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Painfully Slow Crop Progress

Only 17% of corn is silking, compared with a five-year average of 42% in the 18 top states, USDA reports. Likewise, 22% of soybeans are blooming, against a 49% average. The states we serve are among those lagging well behind average.

 

Corn

Soybeans

 

July 14

Average

July 14

Average

Iowa

8

40

26

52

Kansas

36

56

15

35

Nebraska

11

42

28

54

South Dakota

0

21

32

50

18 States

17

42

22

49

 

Condition is virtually unchanged in the 18 states, with corn and soybeans each improving 1 percentage point on the upper end, to 58% and 54% good/excellent, respectively. No change was seen on the bottom end, with both corn and soybeans at 12% poor/very poor.

Grain sorghum is not as far behind, with 24% headed and 14% coloring in the six reported states. This compares with 31% and 19% averages. Almost three quarters of the crop is rated good/excellent and only 3% poor/very poor.

Spring wheat is 9 points behind average in heading, at 78%. Its condition is rated good/excellent on 76% of the acres (down from 78% a week earlier) and just 4% poor.

Winter wheat harvest in the 18 reported states also is still running late, with just 57% cut compared with 71% on average.

 

July 14

Average

Kansas

81

95

Nebraska

14

52

South Dakota

0

21

18 States

57

71

 

Early end to season?

Naturally, the late start to the spring crop season has raised concerns about whether there will be enough time for crops to mature. Feeding that concern are forecasts by several weather companies that a normal frost date could be the best-case scenario; early frost is a distinct possibility. That would be especially bad for the tardy crops in the northern reaches of the Corn Belt. 

For instance, Drew Lerner, founder of World Weather Inc., said: “I do not see this growing season being extended, especially in the northern parts of the Midwest. The odds are really high that we’re going to end up with the northern areas finishing out early.” He bases that observation on a repeating sunspot cycle: In 1965 and 1983 saw early frosts and were tied to solar minimums, which we are approaching again. “Further research also reflects that anytime the solar minimums are at play and we have a slight cooler bias [which he predicts for this summer, despite current heat], we tend to verify with early frost or freezes.” Click to view full forecast on agweb.com.

In the same article, Farm Journal agronomist Ken Ferrie noted that an early frost/freeze can take 30-40 bu./acre off corn yield in some areas. 

This worry is keeping December corn futures above $4.20/bu. and November beans above $8.90 – despite 2018/19 corn exports 11% below a year earlier at the same time into the marketing year. In its July supply/demand report, USDA reduced its projected exports for the third time, to 56 mmt, compared with 62 mmt in April. Yet exports are still running below the average weekly pace needed to reach USDA’s projection.

Meanwhile, because of logistics snarled by historic flooding, soybean exporters are struggling to deliver some 7 mmt of beans purchased by China before trade talks broke down last month. Shipments to all locations reached 38.5 million metric tons by July 4, compared with 50.3 mmt a year earlier. Outstanding sales, on the other hand, were 10 mmt, up from 7.2 mmt last year.

Beans not moved this summer could leave bins too full and clog delivery channels this fall for those lucky enough to have good crops. The challenging 2019 season hasn’t yet outlived that adjective.   

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