Dryness trims ratings but potential remains strong -Braun

Most of the U.S. Crop Watch corn and soybean fields over the last week endured a hot and dry stretch, but the producers are still hopeful for a big harvest, assuming rains arrive within the next couple of weeks.

Crops may continue to be stressed in the near term as dry conditions will prevail for the next few days and unseasonably warm temperatures are expected in western locations. However, the forecast for the following week shows promise for some much-needed precipitation ahead of pollination next month.

The producers of Crop Watch, which follows 11 U.S. corn and soybean fields on a weekly basis, maintain mostly strong ratings despite unfavorable weather last week. The condition scores are on a 1-to-5 scale, where 1 is very poor and 5 is excellent, similar to the system used by the U.S. government.

The unweighted, 11-field average corn condition dropped to 4.07 from 4.16 last week as a slight improvement in Nebraska was outweighed by reductions in South Dakota, eastern Iowa and Indiana. Without rain, corn plants’ leaves in these areas are rolling in the heat of the day, a sign of moisture stress. (https://tmsnrt.rs/3xfqvp2)

The average soybean condition score fell to 4.05 from 4.18 in the previous week as a minor bump in Minnesota could not offset declines in both Iowa locations and North Dakota. Dryness in Iowa has caused a small slide in plant health, and it is holding back growth in western Iowa.

North Dakota soybean conditions fell to a 1 from a 2 last week because a severe hail storm ruined at least half of the field early on Friday, on top of the drought already causing major stress. The producer is hoping to replant this half of the field if it is approved by insurance. He will know more on the situation later on Monday.

The North Dakota corn held at 2 after a bit of rain last week, though very high winds early Friday pushed the plants over. The producer will not know for a few days whether any damage resulted, but he is hopeful for now. Less than 1 inch (25 mm) of rain fell last week, so more will be needed very soon.

Aside from North Dakota, the corn and soybean crops still hold a condition rating of 4 or above in all other locations except western Iowa, where both scores are at 3.75 due to prolonged dryness. All these growers believe good crops remain in the cards if some better weather arrives soon.

The southeastern Illinois and Ohio locations have enjoyed near-perfect weather and all four fields carry a 5 rating. The Ohio fields received about a half-inch of rain every day last week and temperatures have been favorably moderate. The extreme heat has also avoided southeastern Illinois and the rainfall has been ample.

Kansas as of last week was also in the ideal weather group after plentiful rains without heat, but the fields are going on two weeks with no moisture and the forecast remains dry. This week will feature temperatures near or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius). Nebraska and other western locations could also be in for at least one or more days of scorching temperatures.

Weather models early on Monday suggest that cooler weather could set in for many areas starting this weekend or early next week, and this new pattern could bring ample moisture to parched fields. Current guidance shows the heaviest amounts in the central and eastern portions of the country, though totals may be unfavorably light in western areas.

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 Brown)

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