Illinois Deterioration Dents Comfort in US Corn, Soy Crop Ratings

August 22nd, 2017


Category: Grains, Oilseeds

(Agrimoney) –  A sharp deterioration in crop condition in the key producing state of Illinois distributed repose at data showing an improvement in the overall US soybean crop, and stability in the corn condition rating.

The US Department of Agriculture, in a weekly crop monitor, pegged the domestic corn crop at 62% in “good” or “excellent” condition, unchanged week on week, if below the average figure of 72% for the previous three years.

The soybean crop was rated at 60%, a rise of 1 point week on week, although, again, behind the elevated readings of recent years, with the three-year average at 69%.

Both figures were bang in line with market expectations.

‘Drought relief’

But the stability in the headline figures disguised large changes in readings for individual states, with Terry Reilly at Chicago broker Futures International flagging “wild swings in combined good/excellent conditions this week”.

South Dakota ratings, for instance, jumped 8 points for both corn and soybeans.

“Much of the state received over an inch of rain,” USDA scouts said, adding that “the precipitation, along with cooler-than-normal temperatures, provided drought relief to portions of South Dakota”.

‘Drier weather prevailed’

However, a decline in the condition of crops in Illinois and India – two of the so-called “I states” much watched by investors – attracted more attention, and helped corn and soybean futures make modest gains in early deals on Tuesday.

In Illinois – a particularly important state, being the second-ranked corn grower, behind Iowa, and often the top soybean producer – the soybean condition rating dropped 3 points to 60%, with the corn rating tumbling by 8 points to 54%.

The fall underlined worries about a lack of rain in Illinois, with the USDA noting that “drier weather prevailed across most of the state last week”.

The proportion of topsoil rated “short” or “very short” of moisture rose by 8 points to 50%, with the equivalent subsoil reading gaining 9 points to 46%.

‘Began to whiten from the heat’

In Indiana, the proportion of corn rated good or excellent eased by 2 points to 53%, with the figure for soybeans down 3 points at 53%, in a week when “few areas across the state received rain, and in many areas the rain was not enough to be beneficial for crops”.

“Continued dry and hot weather increased stressors on corn and soybeans, especially in sandy soils and areas without irrigation,” said USDA state statistician Greg Matli.

“The presence of rust remained prevalent in corn fields, along with ear rot and diplodia stalk rot.

“Soybeans grown in sandy soils began to whiten in the afternoons from the heat.”

‘Mounting scepticism’

The data chimed with persistent unease among some investors over the US Department of Agriculture’s decision two weeks ago, in its monthly Wasde crop briefing, to give only a small trim to its estimate for the US corn yield.

Richard Feltes at RJ O’Brien noted “mounting scepticism of USDA row crop yields in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio, following a dry August and results of private sector crop tours”.

A tour by one Illinois co-operative last week forecast the state’s corn yield at, on average, 15% below year-ago levels, according to Benson Quinn Commodities.

The market is paying particular attention to this week’s Farm Journal Midwest crop tour, one of the best-established events.

Benson Quinn Commodities said that the tour “will get a lot of attention, as this year’s crop is going to show more variability than the prior couple of years”.


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