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Crop conditions take a big step lower

Jeff Caldwell 08/27/2013 @ 9:27am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

It's not all that uncommon for corn and soybean conditions to turn lower around this time of the year, but the ratings released in Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report show things may be sliding more steeply than usual, analysts say.

Monday's report shows 59% of the nation's corn crop is in good or excellent condition, a 2% decline from last week. Soybeans saw a 4% cut in good-to-excellent-rated numbers, to 58%.

While soybean development is nipping at the heels of the previous average pace, corn progress continues to lag. As of Sunday, 23% of the crop was in dent stage, 22% behind normal. This is a major part of why analysts are starting to lower their expectations for crop output once the combines start rolling this fall.

"This shows how far the corn crop is behind normal; it is still way behind. The corn-denting numbers show Iowa at 9% (compared to 46%), Minnesota, North and South Dakota are only at 5% (compared to 25% to 35%)," says Kluis Commodities analyst and broker Al Kluis. "And it looks like after we boil the crop, next we'll freeze it. The extreme heat and late maturity will take a toll on test weight and yield."

With heat and dryness expected to persist for the most part through the next week to 10 days, most expectations are for the stress to ramp up and be reflected in even lower crop ratings next week.

“Crop conditions continue to decline, and that trend is likely to continue with the extremely warm weather that is being forecast for the week ahead,” says Iowa ag secretary Bill Northey. “Hot temperatures and dry soils can hurt yields on both corn and soybeans at this point of the season.”

In the meantime, the weather and resulting market pressure may call for a change in course and to possibly start making some sales, Kluis says. "I've been telling you to not panic, and to be patient, but now the time has come to act. Stay disciplined," he says.

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