After a hot and dry start to June, the U.S. Crop Watch corn and soybean fields last week experienced much more favorable weather, prompting many of the producers to raise condition scores.
Many of the fields within the last week received at least 1 inch (25 mm) of rain and up to 3.5 inches (89 mm) at most. The southeastern Illinois location measured about 0.7 inch, North Dakota 0.4 inch, South Dakota up to 0.25 inch and Ohio 0.2 inch.
Seasonal to cool temperatures aided the crop improvement or maintenance in the drier areas, but the need for rain continues. The producers in the Dakotas and Ohio report that crop conditions may decline next week without any rainfall, but even growers in areas that recently got good rains note that it will not be long until more is needed due to how much water the plants use this time of year.
The 11 Crop Watch producers report weekly condition scores on a 1-to-5 scale where 1 is very poor and 5 is excellent. This week, four producers increased corn a half-point and another four bumped it a quarter-point. Two of the three that did not raise conditions were already rated at 5.
That brought the 11-field, unweighted average corn condition to 4.16 from 3.89 a week earlier, tying the season high from the first week of June. Perfect scores were given in eastern Iowa, southeastern Illinois and Ohio, and 4.5s were assigned in Minnesota, western Illinois and Indiana.
Five of the producers increased soybean conditions by a half-point and another added a quarter-point, raising the average to 4.14 from 3.89 last week. That is slightly lower than the average score from the end of May to early June. The same locations that have 5s and 4.5s in corn also have the same scores for beans.
The lowest scores remain in North Dakota at 2.5 on corn and 1.5 on soybeans, both up a half-point after some light but timely rain. The producer is currently more confident on corn yield potential than that for soybeans.
The weather will become particularly important when the corn begins pollination, as hot and dry weather can disrupt that process and reduce yield potential. The first Crop Watch corn fields are likely to begin pollination in about 10 days, and the two weeks that follow will be the key time for most of the subject fields.
The South Dakota corn is likely to pollinate during the last week of July and mid-August is most probable and normal for the North Dakota corn.
Currently, the long-term guidance approaching mid-July suggests that the biggest concerns lie in the western Corn Belt where persistent hot and dry weather is more likely to be observed than in the east. The active, wetter pattern appears destined for eastern areas including Illinois, Ohio and points south.
In the next few days including Monday, active weather is still a possibility for many of the Crop Watch locations, but that bias is heavier toward the east. Immediate rain chances are the least likely in the Dakotas where the moisture is needed most.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will publish its June planted area survey on Wednesday, and this is one of the most highly anticipated reports of the year due to the associated price volatility. The Crop Watch producers in heavily rotational areas (Iowa, Illinois, etc.) did not report any change of planting plans following the spring rally.
The North Dakota grower thinks that the market’s signal to farmers following the March 31 planting survey was to plant more corn, so he is more confident of a larger increase in corn acres than for soybeans in his area. His observation is that acreage increases for soybeans may have occurred on marginal ground, which is noteworthy for yield potential later on.
The Kansas producer did not change any of his plans this year, but his opinion is that corn and sorghum acres were more likely than soybeans to have increased in his area since March. He noted that some of his neighbors who rarely plant sorghum have planted some this year due to its profitability advantage versus corn and other crops.
The South Dakota grower did not expect a huge shift in acres for his area. He says USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has competed for acres, but he notes there could be a small shift from corn to soybeans locally due to availability of capital.
The following are the states and counties of the 2021 Crop Watch corn and soybean fields: Griggs, North Dakota; Kingsbury, South Dakota; Freeborn, Minnesota; Burt, Nebraska; Rice, Kansas; Audubon, Iowa; Cedar, Iowa; Warren, Illinois; Crawford, Illinois; Tippecanoe, Indiana; Fairfield, Ohio.
Source: Reuters (By Karen Braun)