NAPERVILLE — The US Crop Watch producers continue to dote on their corn crops, though soybeans still do not look as good since recent weather has not favored development.
Crop Watch planting finished over the weekend with the Ohio corn field sown on Saturday and the North Dakota soybeans on Sunday. Those two are the only fields of the 22 planted in June. In 2019, five of the 16 Crop Watch fields were planted in June , all soybeans.
Crop Watch follows 11 corn and 11 soybean fields across nine US states from planting through harvest. Each week the producers assign condition scores to their fields using a scale of 1 to 5.
The ratings are similar to the US Department of Agriculture’s system where 1 is very poor, 3 is average and 5 is excellent, but the Crop Watch condition scores are more of a visual measure and do not include yield assumptions.
Crop Watch corn conditions rose this week to an average of 4.58 from 4.42 last week. That is based on a nine-field average, the same nine as last week as North Dakota and Ohio are not yet ready for ratings.
Producers in Minnesota and western Illinois bumped their corn conditions to 5, joining both Iowa locations and southeastern Illinois with perfect corn scores. None of the nine producers have rated their corn below a 4.
Many of the Crop Watch farmers report that their corn is off to one of the best starts they have ever seen, with even emergence and plentiful populations. But they are less excited about the soybeans, where populations are thinner and heavy post-planting rains hampered emergence.
The nine-field average soybean condition score is 3.78, excluding Ohio and North Dakota for now. The average across the same nine fields in the same week last year, when crops were planted earlier, was 4.33.
The roughest conditions are in South Dakota, where the producer scored his soybeans a 2 due to wet and cool weather since planting. Emergence is very spotty, but he is hopeful the beans can grow out of this in the coming weeks if warmer weather is observed without excessive rains.
The only other sub-4 soybeans are in Nebraska and western Illinois, which have faced similar issues as South Dakota. Both are rated 3.5, though that was a half-point increase for western Illinois and a half-point decrease for Nebraska.
USDA’s statistics service on Monday afternoon will publish its first national corn crop conditions for the season, and high scores are expected. The highest initial rating in recent years was 79% good-to-excellent in 2018. Last year’s initial score was 76%.
USDA will not offer soybean conditions on Monday, though soybean ratings often start the season lower than corn. The government’s crop conditions are judged on only the portion of crops that have emerged.
WEATHER AND NORTH DAKOTA
Most of the Crop Watch fields could use some heat, particularly to boost soybeans, though that is unlikely to arrive until the weekend in the western Corn Belt and next week for points east. Producers are always cautious wishing for heat because hot weather can greatly damage yield potential if observed down the road.
None of the producers reported an urgent need for rain, but some moisture would be welcome soon, including the Illinois and Indiana locations. Scattered showers are expected in parts of the Corn Belt this week, though the two-week outlook is drier than normal for most places, a trend to keep an eye on later in the month.
The North Dakota producer resumed planting on Friday after wet weather the previous weekend, so progress in his area was certainly not full-speed last week. He reports that more area farmers kept going on corn and wheat perhaps longer than he was thinking a week ago , but everyone is mostly focused on soybeans and specialty crops now.
The producer says recently emerged corn in the area is looking OK, but he is concerned about the unseasonably cool temperatures and the impact on growth given how late it is. He had planted 46% of his total planned crop acres as of Sunday, and he would plant beans up to June 15 if needed, though a big rain from here would probably end his planting season.
As of Monday, the North Dakota grower predicts at least 30% of his planned acres will be prevented from planting, up from 20% a week ago, though the share could always go much higher pending the weather. A lot of fields in the area are still too wet to plant despite a drier weekend.
The following are the states and counties of the 2022 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.
Photos of the Crop Watch fields can be tracked on my Twitter feed using handle @kannbwx. Karen Braun is a market analyst for Reuters. Views expressed above are her own.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)