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Two fields of corn and soybeans next to each other in late afternoon sunlight Willard/iStock/GettyImages

USDA crop progress: Corn finally in sight of finish line

Nearly one in 10 U.S. acres still have yet to be planted, however

The historically slow 2019 planting season continued to see minimal forward momentum this past week, with 92% of the country’s corn acres now in the ground, in line with analyst expectations but (not surprisingly) still behind the typical pace, according to the latest USDA crop progress report, out Monday afternoon.

Progress improved from 83% the prior week up to 92% complete as of June 16, according to USDA. Still, that progress failed to match 2018’s pace and the prior five-year average, both at 100%. Seven of the top 18 production states failed to clear 90% this past week, including Illinois (88%), Indiana (84%), Michigan (84%), Missouri (89%), Ohio (68%), South Dakota (78%) and Wisconsin (87%).

Among planted acres, 79% of the crop is now emerged, up from 62% a week ago but well behind 2018’s pace and the five-year average, both at 97%.

“Corn planting progress was even slower than expected last week, setting another record,” says Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “Normally, this is USDA’s last corn planting report for the season, but a measure of the historic delays came in a footnote to this week’s release that said planting progress will be surveyed again next week.”

Today’s numbers echo what growers have been sharing on Feedback from the Field, Knorr adds – and in total, around 7 million acres still haven’t been planted as of Sunday, he says.

“While a few of those acres could be planted this week, they could be cut for silage rather than harvested unless the growing season turns out to be a very long one that allows fields to mature,” he says.

Corn condition held mostly steady, with 59% rated in good-to-excellent (unchanged from last week). Another 31% of the crop is rated fair (down from 32% last week), with the remaining 10% rated poor or very poor (up from 9% last week).

“Today’s crop ratings overall eased slightly, knocking a third of a bush off yield production, but remain better than expected given corn’s troubles this year,” Knorr says.

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For soybeans, analysts expected USDA to report that 79% of the crop was now in the ground, but the agency’s official tally came in lower than that, at 77% completion. That’s up from the prior week’s tally of 60% but still far behind 2018’s pace of 96% and the five-year average of 93%. States in the eastern Corn Belt including Indiana (64%), Michigan (53%) and Ohio (46%) are among the furthest behind at this time.

Soybean emergence has progressed to 55%, improving over the prior week’s 34% but still far behind 2018’s pace of 89% and the five-year average of 84%.

“Soybean planting was the third slowest for the week, with South Dakota and the eastern Midwest lagging seriously behind,” Knorr says. “Some farmers are talking about taking prevent plant on that crop too with November futures still below the spring price for crop insurance.”

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The 2018/19 winter wheat crop prepares for harvest, meantime, with 89% of the crop now headed. That’s slightly behind 2018’s pace of 94% and the five-year average of 95%. Harvest is now 8% complete, up from 4% the week prior but bucking analyst expectations of 10%. Recent years have kicked off harvest more aggressively, with the prior five-year average at 20% complete by mid-June.

USDA also held crop quality ratings mostly steady, with 51% of the crop in good condition and 13% rated excellent (versus 50/14 last week). Another 27% of the crop is rated fair, with the remaining 9% rated poor or very poor – all unchanged from a week ago.

Spring wheat crop quality took a dip, however – with 77% of the crop now rated in good-to-excellent condition, versus 81% a week ago. Another 21% of the crop is rated fair (up 3 points from last week), with the remaining 2% rated poor or very poor (up 1 point from last week).

Physiologically, 95% of the spring wheat crop is now emerged, up from 85% a week ago and slightly behind 2018’s pace and the five-year average, both at 97%.

“Winter wheat production potential slipped slightly this week as harvest is slow,” Knorr says. “Some states in each growing region gained and lost, evening out the impact on a class basis. Spring wheat conditions declined again this week, cutting about three-quarters of a bushel off yield potential, but overall remain above normal. Dry conditions spilling over from the Canadian Prairies don’t appear to be a series issue yet.”

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Click here for additional crop progress updates, including southern row crops not mentioned here.

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