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Crop Watch: Corn ratings slide after hot, dry week in the east -Braun

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Repeats column first published on Monday. Karen Braun is a market analyst for Reuters. Views expressed above are her own.

By Karen Braun

NAPERVILLE, Illinois, June 24 (Reuters) -U.S. Crop Watch corn in the eastern Corn Belt did not make it through last week’s hot and dry stretch unscathed, and crop health in the west was dinged by overly cool temperatures and excessive rain.

Crop Watch fields in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa received between 2 and 7 inches of rain for the week ended Sunday with mixed impacts. The largest totals were in Minnesota, and some of those crops are now sitting underwater.

Most Crop Watch producers consider the moderate temperatures expected in the week ahead as favorable, but locations in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio received between 0.25 and 0.6 inch of rain last week combined with scorching heat.

Eastern producers are now feeling the pressure of picking up the modest rainfall forecast for this week before a potential return to dry conditions. U.S. forecasters last week predicted July to be warmer and possibly drier than normal, especially in the eastern Corn Belt.

Some producers reported last week’s warmth as helpful for soybeans, and despite the weekend’s oppressive temperatures in Kansas, high humidity levels have helped preserve moisture there.

But the cool start to the growing season has stalled out crop growth in North Dakota, and the much-needed heat remains absent from the forecast through at least the end of the month.


Crop Watch producers assign weekly condition scores to their corn and soybean fields using a scale of 1 to 5. The ratings are similar to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s system where 1 is very poor, 3 is average and 5 is excellent.

However, the Crop Watch condition scores, unlike USDA’s, are more of a visual assessment and do not incorporate yield assumptions. Yield ratings will come later in the season.

The 11-field, unweighted average corn condition fell to 3.45 from 3.68 in the prior week on half-point declines in North Dakota, Minnesota and Indiana, and a 1-point drop in Ohio.

The 11-field average soybean condition fell to 3.75 from 3.91 in the prior week after a one-point cut in North Dakota, a half-point loss in Minnesota and a quarter-point trim in Indiana.

The current Crop Watch corn average of 3.45 is the season’s lowest so far and compares with 3.86 the same week last year, which also featured 2023’s lowest. The biggest factor holding down corn ratings this year is population loss, which has been reported from Illinois to the Dakotas due to excessive rainfall immediately following planting.

Producers generally feel good about corn yield potential for the emerged plants, but the overall yield penalty due to widespread emergence issues, if any, remains unclear.

USDA as of June 16 rated 72% of the U.S. corn crop in good-to-excellent (GE) condition, down from the initial 75% two weeks earlier. That 72% GE is the week’s highest since 2018 and is well above the year-ago 55%.

U.S. soybeans were rated 70% GE as of June 16, the week’s highest since 2020 but down from 72% a week earlier. Both corn and soybean conditions have the tendency to decline in mid-to-late June, which is predicted for Monday afternoon’s update.

Crop Watch follows 11 corn and 11 soybean fields across nine U.S. states, including two each in Iowa and Illinois, and this is the seventh year of the project.

The following are the states and counties of the 2024 Crop Watch corn and soybean fields: Kingsbury, South Dakota; Freeborn, Minnesota; Burt, Nebraska; Rice, Kansas; Audubon, Iowa; Cedar, Iowa; Warren, Illinois; Crawford, Illinois; Tippecanoe, Indiana; Fairfield, Ohio. The North Dakota soybeans are in Griggs County and the corn is in Stutsman County.

Karen Braun is a market analyst for Reuters. Views expressed above are her own.

Writing by Karen Braun
Editing by Matthew Lewis


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