Corn Belt crop conditions decline along with topsoil moisture

Two of every three corn fields in Illinois are rated in poor or very poor condition, says USDA in the July 23 crop progress report, as the national corn crop continues to decline. Although Illinois produces more corn than some other states, their ratings are even worse. 

For example, 71 percent of Indiana corn is rated poor to very poor, and 78 percent of Missouri corn is poor to very poor. The ratings were released moments after the market closed with substantial losses in commodity prices, but those declines continued into the overnight trading session. Details follow.

Nationally, the 2012 corn crop is rated 45 percent poor to very poor and only 26 percent good to excellent. That represents a 7 percent slide into the bottom categories from last week, and 5 percent sliding out of the top category from the prior week. Nationally, soybeans were rated 35 percent in poor to very poor condition and 34 percent in good to excellent. That represents a 5 percent slide into the bottom categories and a 3 percent slide out of the top categories.  The numbers were listed in the July 23 USDA Crop Progress and Condition Report.

As indicated in Illinois, 66 percent of the corn crop is rated poor to very poor, a function of the fact that 99 percent of the topsoil is rated short or very short of soil moisture. Subsoil moisture is 97 percent short to very short. USDA says Corn conditions continued declining and were rated at 36 percent very poor, 30 percent poor, 27 percent fair, and 7 percent good. There were several reports from southern areas of producers cutting corn originally intended for grain into silage or even disking it under. Soybean conditions were rated at 24 percent very poor, 25 percent poor, 38 percent fair, 12 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.

Indiana remains the epicenter of the drought, but rain arrived in some of the worst areas in the past week, but well short of what was needed to break the drought. 71 percent of the corn is poor to very poor and only 7 percent is good to excellent.  53 percent of the soybeans are poor to very poor and 12 percent good to excellent.  89 percent of pastures are poor to very poor.  68 percent of the topsoil is sort of moisture, an improvement from the 77 percent a week ago.  But over 70 percent of subsoil moisture remains in a water deficit situation.

Iowa reported another hot and dry week without precipitation and reports of some farmers beginning to chop corn. Topsoil moisture levels declined to 74 percent very short, 23 percent short and 3 percent adequate. Corn condition is reported at 14 percent very poor, 26 percent poor, 37 percent fair, 21 percent good, and 2 percent excellent.  Soybean condition is rated 10 percent very poor, 20 percent poor, 42 percent fair, 25 percent good, and 3 percent excellent.  State climatologist Harry Hillaker said, "This now has been the hottest start for July and the summer season since 1936. Iowa has now recorded below normal rainfall for ten of the past eleven weeks and above normal temperatures for eleven of the past twelve weeks."

Kansas topsoil moisture supplies continued to decline to 64 percent very short, 31 percent short, 5 percent adequate, and none in surplus. With 95 percent in the very short to short categories, this is the lowest July rating for topsoil moisture supplies since 1991. Kansas subsoil moisture supplies also declined to 58 percent very short, 35 percent short, 7 percent adequate and none surplus. As many producers decided to chop non-irrigated corn for silage, the hot and dry conditions were preventing adequate pollination of many row crops.  Row crops continued to show stress as corn, soybeans, and sorghum were all rated over 50 percent in the very poor to poor categories. Only 12 percent of corn and 14 percent of beans are listed good to excellent.  84 percent of pasture is rated poor to very poor.

In Michigan above normal temperatures with below normal rainfall was again the norm. Topsoil is 80 percent short to very short, corn is 51 percent poor to very poor and soybeans are 40 percent poor to very poor. 29 percent of beans are rated good to excellent and 17 percent of corn is also rated good to excellent.

Minnesota remains a state with periodic rainfall. And 40 percent of the topsoil was rated as having adequate moisture and 4 percent was surplus. Even so, 56 percent was short to very short. Only 11 percent of corn and soybeans were rated poor or below with 61 percent if corn in the good to excellent categories, along with 60 percent of the soybeans.

Missouri is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Minnesota with 90 percent of the topsoil very short and 9 percent short of soil moisture. Grass fires continue to be a concern. Well pumps have been lowered to account for dropping ground water levels.  Corn condition rated 48 percent very poor, 31 percent poor, 16 percent fair, 4 percent good, and 1 percent excellent. Rain will not help most of the corn crop at this point. Some producers cut silage and baled corn to salvage it due to low yields. Soybean condition was 31 percent very poor, 37 percent poor, 24 percent fair, 7 percent good, and 1 percent excellent. Extreme drought conditions and excessive heat prevented some soybeans from flowering, and there were several reports of soybeans not setting pods.

In Nebraska drought conditions coupled with above normal temperatures continued to take a toll on dryland crops. With pastures and forage supplies short, corn acres have begun being chopped for silage or cut for hay. Irrigators were struggling with water demands and in some cases more water has been used to date than a full season would require. Corn conditions declined and rated 14 percent very poor, 19 poor, 30 fair, 32 good, and 5 excellent, well below last year's 80 percent good to excellent and 79 average. Irrigated corn conditions rated 57 percent good to excellent and dryland corn rated 9 percent. Soybean conditions declined and rated 10 percent very poor, 22 poor, 40 fair, 26 good, and 2 excellent, well below last year's 78 percent good to excellent and 77 average. Topsoil moisture is rated 95 percent short to very short, compared to 92 percent last week.

In North Dakota dry conditions and excessive heat caused most crop conditions to decline last week. Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 20 percent very short, 53 percent short, 26 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 13 percent very short, 44 short, 41 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus. Maturity of most crops was accelerated due to the abundance of heat, and all small grain crops were ahead of their respective averages in stages of development. Eleven percent of corn was rated poor to very poor with 58 percent in good to excellent condition. 9 percent of beans were rated poor to very poor and 59 percent were good to excellent.

Ohio farmers have been getting more rain and precipitation averaged more than an inch across the state in the past week. USDA says, " Conditions throughout the state remain hot and dry. The heat and dry weather during the last number of weeks has continued to put significant stress on both crops and livestock. There has been more rain this week, some areas throughout the state report 1-2 partial days of rain; however topsoil moisture is still far below normal conditions." Corn is rated 52 percent poor to very poor and 25 percent in good to excellent condition. Soybeans are rated 44 percent poor to very poor and only 20 percent good to excellent. Topsoil is still rated 90 percent short to very short, a slight improvement from the prior week.

Scattered showers were recorded in South Dakota but more was still needed to give row crops relief from the heat. Small grain harvest was able to advance with the dry conditions. Topsoil moisture was rated at 13 percent adequate, 35 percent short and 52 percent very short. Subsoil moisture was rated at 14 percent adequate, 35 percent short and 51 percent very short. Corn is rated35 percent poor to very poor, with 31 percent in the good to excellent category. 24 percent of soybeans are rated poor to very poor and 34 percent are rated good to excellent.

Minimal showers have done little to provide relief to a hot and dry Corn Belt. Crop rating all continued to decline along with moisture content in the topsoil and subsoil.

Source: FarmGate blog