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Another week of drought damage -- USDA

Jeff Caldwell 07/30/2012 @ 3:23pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

The week-over-week decline in corn and soybean conditions wasn't as sharp as the previous 2 weeks, but the trend remains firmly entrenched: the crops are going downhill quickly.

Monday's USDA-NASS weekly Crop Progress report shows only 24% of the nation's corn crop is in good or excellent condition. That's just a 2% decline from the previous week, while the amount of the crop in very poor or poor conditions went from 45% to 48% in that same timeframe.

Just like corn, the soybean crop didn't see the monster slide in conditions that it did the previous couple of weeks, but it's still moving lower; as of Sunday, 29% of that crop's in good or excellent shape versus 37% in very poor or poor condition, Monday's report shows.

At this point in the season, the drought's damage has been done and there's not a whole lot that can be done to save the crops in some of the hardest-hit areas, says Craig Solberg, senior ag meteorologist with Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., in Des Moines, Iowa.

"It is a disaster this year in the Midwest and I think that we need to start talking about disaster-type yield losses. In my mind this may mean a national corn yield below 120 bushels per acre (and maybe a national corn crop below 10 billion bushels) and a national soybean yield below 36 or even 35 bushels per acre," Solberg said Monday.

The crop losses thus far already have some farmers looking ahead to next year, and the way things look now, some are starting to wonder how long the drought conditions will strangle U.S. farmers.

"The thought by most is that when this year is over,  we get back to normal. What if we continue?" says Agriculture.com Marketing Talk contributor ag-?. "This drought could be longer in term and may have significant effects on production even into next year. Will farmers adjust their acreage based on soil moisture for the coming year?"

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