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USDA crop progress: Corn planting slows but nears the finish line

planter in a field / BIG GAIN: Of the top corn-producing states, Iowa is furthest along in planting, with 78% of its crop in the ground.
Both corn and soybeans are getting in the ground much faster than a year ago.

Corn planting progress was again hampered by ample Midwestern rains this week, but farmers were still able to make some forward momentum for the week ending May 24, per the latest USDA crop progress report. Both corn and soybean planting progress are much faster than 2019’s historically sluggish start and maintain moderate leads over the prior five-year average.

Corn progress reached 88% by Sunday, up from 80% a week ago. The tally was a bit behind analyst expectations, with an average guess of 90%. Still, progress is significantly ahead of last year’s pace of 55% and moderately ahead of the five-year average of 82%. All but 18 of the top production states – Pennsylvania (47%) and North Dakota (54%) have at least seven out of every ten acres in the ground.

And 64% of the crop is now emerged, versus 43% a week ago, 28% a year ago and a five-year average of 58%. State-by-state progress varies widely, from just 10% in Pennsylvania all the way up to 88% in Texas.

USDA is also providing corn quality ratings starting this week, offering an initial assessment of 70% in good-to-excellent condition. Another 25% of the crop is rated fair, with the remaining 5% rated poor or very poor.

Soybean planting progress also gained some forward momentum this past week, moving from 53% a week ago to 65%. Analysts were expecting a swifter pace, with an average trade guess of 69%. This year’s pace is still more than double 2019’s mark of 26% and remains moderately ahead of the five-year average of 55%. Iowa leads all states, at 92%.

If soybean planting is ahead of schedule, then it’s a reasonable expectation to think that emergence is also ahead of schedule. And that is indeed the case – 35% of the crop is now emerged, moderately besting the prior five-year average of 27% and nearly quadrupling 2019’s pace of 9%.

Spring wheat, in contrast, is getting planted a bit more slowly than usual this spring. Planting progress reached 81% this week, which is slightly ahead of 2019’s pace of 80% but moderately behind the prior five-year average of 90%. Washington (99%) and Idaho (98%) are nearly wrapped up, and North Dakota (70%) has made the least progress so far. Fifty-one percent of the crop is emerged nationwide, versus a five-year average of 65%.

More than two-thirds (68%) of the 2019/20 winter wheat crop is now headed. That’s a bit ahead of last year’s pace of 63% and mostly in line with the prior five-year average of 72%. USDA firmed quality ratings by two points, with 54% of the crop now in good-to-excellent condition. Another 30% of the crop is rated fair (down two points from last week), with the remaining 16% rated poor or very poor (unchanged from last week).

Click here to read the latest USDA crop progress report in its entirety.

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