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USDA: Corn stable despite dryness

Jeff Caldwell 06/04/2012 @ 3:31pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

About all of the nation's soybean crop is planted, and all but a handful of the nation's corn acres have emerged, according to Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report. Corn conditions didn't change from the previous week, with 72% of the crop in good-to-excellent condition. And, for the first week of the year, USDA showed soybean conditions Monday, with 65% of the crop in good-to-excellent shape.

Though on the surface crop conditions are still seemingly stable, farmers say they have growing concerns about drought. Soils are already dry, and if the current rainfall trend continues, it could begin to gut yield potential.

"We can describe the effects but it is difficult to predict the exact results on grain yield. Grain yield in corn is the multiplicative result of plant population, kernel number per plant, and weight per kernel. The effects of stress on grain yield are determined by how the stress directly or indirectly affects these components of grain yield," says Purdue University Extension agronomist Bob Nielsen. "The good news is that the season is yet young and the return of moderate growing conditions could still turn around this crop. But time’s a' wasting. The sooner the dry spell breaks, the sooner additional loss in yield potential can be avoided."

And, the market's starting to take note of the dry trend in corn and soybean country. Monday's corn trade shot higher by double digits, and though the crops look good now in some areas, it won't be long until the drought's more of a widespread condition.

"If you are one of those who missed the rains last week, or had limited amounts, you may not be buying what these crop ratings are telling us this week," says Cargill Senior Grain Merchandiser Ray Jenkins. "The numbers for good/excellent corn in the U.S. are identical to last week’s 72% level. I suspect these corn ratings may be enough to get the 5PM trade started off a touch weaker."

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