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Where is the most 'excellent' corn in the country this growing season?

Across the top 18 corn growing states, USDA says just 7% of the country’s corn crop is in excellent shape. However, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri have higher rates of excellent corn. Here’s a more detailed look at weather and crop conditions in three of the leading states.

Illinois Crop Conditions

Illinois Corn

Monday’s USDA Crop Progress Report indicated 21% of Illinois corn is in excellent condition.

West central Illinois farmer Matt Swanson raises corn, soybeans, and cattle. Corn in his area is not excellent, he says.

Green map of LaHarpe, Illinois
Photo credit: Google Maps

“I would say it’s at APH (actual production history), or slightly under. The earlier planting dates are kind of tough looking right now. They went through pollination and grain fill when it was a lot warmer,” he explains.

Later planted corn looks better, but whether it will yield more remains to be seen, Swanson says. “The majority of the area has dent corn, approaching maturity. You’ve got some that is still R4, or milk.”

Statewide, USDA said Monday 37% of the Illinois corn crop has dented, surging from 12% the week prior, but behind the five-year average of 44%.

Swanson says, “The northwest part of the state, and the northeast, under Chicago, where it has been raining, is probably where your best Illinois corn is at.” The Midwestern Regional Climate Center confirms those areas reported below average temperatures and above average precipitation for this time of year the week ending August 21.

Illinois Soybeans

Illinois soybean condition declined to 4% very poor, 5% poor, 23% fair, 51% good, and 17% excellent in Monday’s Crop Progress Report. Soybeans blooming are at 95% in Illinois, slightly behind the five-year average of 97%. USDA says 80% are setting pods, up from 73% the week prior, but trailing the five-year average of 87%.

Swanson says, “Soybeans still have a decent chance if it would rain sometime soon, but the clock is ticking.”

This week he is making some late season fertility applications hoping to push the soybeans to the finish line. “Right now we’re applying phosphorus and trying some experimental stuff with nitrogen and other things. We’ll hit almost every acre of our beans,” Swanson says.

Illinois pasture and soil condition

Pasture condition across Illinois was rated 4% very poor, 13% poor, 34% fair, 42% good, and 7% excellent.

Top soil moisture supply across Illinois was rated 7% very short, 20% short, 68% adequate, and 5% surplus. Subsoil moisture supply was rated 7% very short, 19% short, 71% adequate, and 3% surplus.

Map of Illinois drought conditions
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

The U.S. Drought Monitor updated August 18 shows less than 1% of the state, mostly a portion of Champaign county, is suffering from D2 severe drought. D1 moderate drought is present in a couple of pockets across central Illinois, including Hancock county where Swanson farms. Abnormally dry conditions stretch across almost 30% of the state. More than 70% of the state is free of moisture stress.

There are no counties with USDA disaster designations in Illinois.

Graph of corn condition
Data source: USDA

Iowa Crop Conditions

Iowa Corn

Monday’s USDA Crop Progress Report indicated 15% of Iowa corn is in excellent condition. A little over half of the state’s corn is in good condition. USDA rated the rest of Iowa corn 26% fair, 6% poor, and 2% very poor.

Iowa corn at dough reached 84%, jumping up from 72% the week prior and ahead of the 82% five-year average. Iowa corn is 30% dented, doubling progress from the week prior, but behind the five-year average of 34%.

Some corn harvest for silage has begun.

Iowa Soybeans

Iowa soybeans were rated 2% very poor, 7% poor, 29% fair, 49% good, and 13% excellent by the USDA on Monday.

Soybeans blooming are equal to the five-year average at 97%. Soybeans setting pods jumped up 8% from the week prior to 88%, but remain slightly behind the five-year average of 89%. The Iowa Department of Agriculture (IDALS) reported 2% of soybeans are turning color.

Green map of Arion, Iowa
Photo credit: Google Maps

Like Swanson, western Iowa farmer, Kelly Garrett decided to make an additional fertilizer pass on his soybeans at R5 in late August.

“We chose to make the application at R5 because it’s a very critical stage in the growth cycle and it has been neglected in our past fertility programs,” Garrett says, explaining he hopes the practice will prevent small beans.

Soybean harvest is about two and a half weeks away, Garrett estimates.

Iowa pasture and soil condition

Pasture and range condition in Iowa was rated 12% very poor, 27% poor, 28% fair, 27% good, and 6% excellent. IDALS reported grasshoppers are a concern in some areas.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 18% very short, 30% short, 50% adequate, and 2% surplus. Thanks to widespread rain during the week ending August 21, less than half of the topsoil is considered short to very short compared to 53% the week prior.

Subsoil moisture condition rated 21% very short, 33% short, 44% adequate, and 2% surplus.

“Iowa experienced cooler temperatures and much-needed rainfall over the final week of the State Fair,” said Iowa secretary of agriculture Mike Naig. “While showers and thunderstorms brought heavier totals across the drought region, we need several months of above-average precipitation to relieve the most intense drought conditions. The rain received last week was welcomed as stressed soybeans continue to set and fill pods.”

Map of Iowa drought conditions
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

The U.S. Drought Monitor updated August 18 showed D3 extreme drought in northwest Iowa shrank slightly to just over 2% of the state. D2 severe drought covers nearly 14% of the Hawkeye State. D1 moderate drought is present in much of southern and western Iowa, covering an additional 22% of the state. Conditions are abnormally dry across another 28% of Iowa. About 33% of the state is free of moisture stress.

Of Iowa’s 99 counties, five have USDA disaster designations.

Michigan Crop Conditions

Michigan Corn

Monday’s USDA Crop Progress Report indicated 11% of Michigan corn is in excellent condition. A little over half of the state’s corn is in good condition. USDA rated the rest of Michigan corn 31% fair, 5% poor, and 2% very poor.

Corn at dough sage is well ahead of the 61% five-year average, coming in at 71% on Monday. Dented corn is also beyond the five-year average pace at 24%.

Farmers in Michigan have been preparing for corn silage harvest.

Michigan Soybeans

Soybeans (and dry beans) are showing stress due to the lack of soil moisture, reported the USDA on Monday.

Crop condition was rated 1% very poor, 6% poor, 36% fair, 45% good, and 12% excellent.

Soybeans in Michigan are more than 10% ahead of the five-year average with 94% setting pods.

Michigan pasture and soil condition

Despite temperate weather and scattered rains last week, Michigan field crops are still in need of precipitation as grain fill continues, says Marlo Johnson, Director of the Great Lakes Regional Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Pasture and range condition in Michigan was recently rated 8% very poor, 23% poor, 35% fair, 30% good, and 4% excellent.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 11% very short, 21% short, 63% adequate, and 5% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 13% very short, 34% short, 51% adequate, and 2% surplus.

Map of Michigan drought conditions
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

The U.S. Drought Monitor updated August 18 showed no change in the D1 moderate drought conditions that covered nearly 7% of the state the week prior. Another 20% of the state faces abnormally dry conditions. More than 72% of the state is free of moisture stress.

There are no counties with USDA disaster designations in Michigan.
 

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