Crop progress marches along, and with planting nearly complete among the three major Midwestern row crops, markets are starting to focus more acutely on crop condition. The corn crop’s condition, in particular, has started strong, but USDA says it slipped just a touch in its latest Crop Progress report.
The 2018 U.S. corn crop started behind schedule but quickly caught up throughout May and early June. As of June 10, 94% of the crop was emerged, compared to 93% last year and a five-year average of 92%.
Crop quality started relatively strong, too. A week ago, USDA rated 78% of the crop in good-to-excellent condition. That rating slipped to 77% this week but still remains a full 10% better than last year’s crop at this time. Another 19% of the crop is rated fair, with the remaining 4% tagged poor or very poor.
Regional variances are always a part of the equation, and so far in 2018, seven states have at least 20% of their corn crop rated excellent. Those states include Illinois (27%), Iowa (21%), Michigan (21%), Minnesota (24%), Ohio (27%), Tennessee (21%) and Wisconsin (26%).
“Corn yield potential remains strong but slipped nearly a half-bushel per acre based on the model of state-by-state ratings,” says Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “Ratings continue to translate into record yields if they hold into the fall. Based on average ratings for this week, yield potential is 181 bpa nationwide, in a range between 166 bpa to 195 bpa. Ratings account for about 50% of the variance in yields historically this week.”
The 2018 soybean planting season is also nearly complete, with 93% of the crop in the ground. That pace remains slightly ahead of 2017’s 91% and moderately ahead of the five-year average of 85%. Another 83% of the crop is emerged, compared to the five-year average of 69%.
This year’s soybean crop is also off to a great start as well, with 74% of the crop rated good-to-excellent. As with corn, this rating slipped by 1% from the prior week but remains substantially higher than the start to 2017 (when 66% of the crop had a good-to-excellent rating).
“Soybean yield potential also dipped a little but remains strong,” Knorr says. “Ratings this week typically account for 63% of the variance in final yields, putting the average yield at 51.6 bpa in a range from 45 bpa to 52.6 bpa.”
The pace of the 2018 U.S. spring wheat crop is also slightly ahead of schedule at 94% complete, matching last year’s pace but getting in the ground faster than the five-year average of 89%. Crop condition of 70% rated in good-to-excellent condition is unchanged from the prior week but remains significantly better than last year’s trend of 45%.
“Spring wheat yield potential edged slightly higher, but remains good, suggesting potential for record yields,” Knorr says, adding that USDA won’t make its first spring wheat production estimates until July.
The U.S. 2017/18 winter wheat crop is substantially worse for the wear, in contrast – with just 38% rated in good-to-excellent condition, improving from 27% the week prior. Harvest is underway for that crop, reaching 14% as of June 10. That’s a marked improvement from the prior week (5%) and the five-year average (10%), but slightly behind the pace of 2017 (16%).
“Winter wheat yield potential edged a quarter of a bushel per acre higher,” Knorr says. “But USDA’s next yield estimate, out Tuesday, may not increase much because ratings slipped in Texas and Oklahoma, where there has been more harvest activity.”
The season’s first sorghum quality ratings are also in, and they are down significantly from a year ago, with 50% of the crop in good-to-excellent condition. Sixty-seven percent of the crop had good-to-excellent ratings in mid-June last year.