June 15, 2020 / 4:52 PM / 19 days ago

Column: Crop Watch - Heat and wind nick corn conditions, rain needed this week

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Reuters) - Half of the U.S. Crop Watch corn and soybeans are in immediate need of rain after a warm and windy start to June, though the other half, including crops in Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio, can hold off without a drink until the end of the week.

A fertilising sprayer sprays corn fields outside New Madrid, Missouri, U.S., May 17, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Crop conditions deteriorated the most last week for the Kansas fields, and the corn in Illinois and Nebraska have also begun to show signs of moisture stress. Newly emerged plants in North Dakota are also in need of rain, despite the extremely wet planting season that curbed acres.

Weather forecasts suggest most of this week will be dry for the Crop Watch fields, but a stormy pattern may move across the country late in the week, starting with the Western Belt states on Thursday and reaching the Eastern Belt by Sunday.

Crop Watch 2020 follows one corn and one soybean field in eight major U.S. Corn Belt states, and these are the same eight growers who participated in the 2018 and 2019 versions of Crop Watch. Weekly updates will be issued for these fields from now until harvest.

Condition scores, which are evaluated between 1 and 5, are available for all fields except the North Dakota soybeans. The ratings are similar to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s system where 1 is very poor and 5 is excellent, but the Crop Watch scores do not make any assumptions about yield since that will be separately evaluated later.

The eight-field average corn condition is 4.06, equivalent to the same weekend in 2018 but above last year’s 3.66.

The following are the states and counties of the Crop Watch corn and soybean fields: Griggs, North Dakota; Freeborn, Minnesota; Burt, Nebraska; Rice, Kansas; Cedar, Iowa; Crawford, Illinois; Boone, Indiana; Fairfield, Ohio.

Photos of the 16 Crop Watch fields can be tracked on Twitter using the hashtag #CropWatch20.


The North Dakota grower pegs corn condition at 3. The field was planted while extremely wet, but now the topsoil has dried out and the corn needs some rain. The soybean field is expected to have emerged by Sunday, so conditions can likely be evaluated next week.

The North Dakota fields are incomplete, with only 30 acres of the 100-acre soybean field planted and 25 acres of 290 sown in the corn field. The producer was able to plant roughly a third of his intended acres this year due to the wet conditions that began last fall.


The Minnesota grower keeps corn and soybean ratings unchanged at 4. Although the crops appear to be doing well, the producer says that excellent crops of the past were ahead of the current one in terms of growth. Some discoloration and unevenness of the corn in spots also prevents the 2020 crop from being excellent. These issues predominantly stem from the cool and wet weather to start the season.


The Nebraska corn condition dropped a quarter-point to 3.75 after an extremely windy and warm week. The soybean condition is unchanged at 3.75. The grower reports that the recent wind is among the strongest in years, and that accelerates the stress on plants needing moisture. The crops need rain soon, which is possible on Thursday, though the producer might have to begin irrigation on his corn field this week. The soybeans are dryland.


The Kansas producer reduced corn condition to 3.5 from 4.5 due to heat stress. Soybean condition dropped a half-point to 3.5. Temperatures have been above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) for three weeks now, and high winds during that period sped up the dry-out. Corn leaves are rolling and if rain does not come this week, above-average yield hopes may be dashed. Winter wheat harvest will begin in the area this week, and average yields are still expected.


Conditions remain at 5 for both Iowa fields. The crops are fine on moisture for now but will be looking for some rain at the end of the week. The producer still welcomes warm temperatures to speed up the growth of the plants, so long as the expected weekend rains arrive.


Corn condition fell a half-point to 4.5 last week due to stress from hot and dry weather, though some rain could quickly restore conditions to 5. The soybean condition jumped to 4.75 from 4 after many of the plants recovered from the neighbor’s herbicide damage. However, the producer had to replant about 4 acres of the 90-acre field after the incident.


Conditions in the Indiana corn field rose a quarter-point to 4.25, but that score will drop next week if no rain arrives. The producer initially rates his soybeans at 3. That field was completely replanted on May 26 after the field was damaged by frost. It was initially planted on April 6, and it was sprayed this weekend for weeds. With the dying weeds still larger than the beans, the field is visually ugly, but the producer says the plants are filling in decently.


The Ohio producer places corn condition at 4.5 and soybeans at 4. A hailstorm earlier this month put the Ohio beans in jeopardy, but most of them were able to recover and only a little replanting was needed. The corn was planted relatively late, on May 31, but the producer is pleased with that since some of the earlier planted corn in the area is spottier. The crops are fine on moisture for now but by the weekend will need rain, which is in the forecast.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a market analyst for Reuters. 

Editing by Matthew Lewis

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