FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Reuters) - Plentiful rain in most of the U.S. Crop Watch locations last week boosted expectations for corn yield to the highest levels of the season, though the prediction calls for just slightly above average results.
The week ahead looks drier for most of the Crop Watch locations, which should be fine, but the temperatures will be a little cooler than is ideal, especially in northern areas that need heat to push the crops to the finish. However, the week should contain good stretches of much-needed sunshine.
Crop Watch 2019 follows one corn and one soybean field in eight major U.S. Corn Belt states, reporting on weekly progress as of Sunday. The fields belong to the same eight growers from last year’s Crop Watch.
Each week, the producers evaluate crop condition and yield potential for both crops on a scale of 1 to 5. For conditions, 1 represents very poor and 5 represents excellent. For yield potential, 1 is well below farm average, 3 is near farm average, and 5 is well above. The growers are asked to evaluate each separately and to not bake in to the condition score certain yield factors such as late planting.
The eight-field average for corn yield increased to 3.19 from 3 in the previous week after improvements in Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska. This is the highest collective yield score of the season so far, and it was the biggest weekly boost to the score as well.
Corn condition rose to 3.41 from 3.38 last week after favorable rains fell in Iowa. Soybean condition is unchanged at 3.59 with no changes in any state, but soybean yield improved slightly to 3.19 from 3.16 on a better outlook in Illinois.
The North Dakota producer left scores unchanged this week: corn condition 2.5, corn yield 2, soybean condition 3, and soybean yield 2.5. The fields received about 1 inch (25 mm) of rain over the weekend, which was beneficial for soybeans. However, the producer is growing concerned over whether the corn crop can finish. Cooler-than-normal temperatures have prevailed in North Dakota for much of the summer, and the near-term forecast does not contain much heat.
The Minnesota grower raised corn yield to 3.75 from 3.5 last week, but he left all other scores unchanged: corn condition 4.25, soybean condition 4.75, and soybean yield 4. More rain is needed as the fields received up to 0.2 inch (5 mm) of rain last week. The producer would prefer the temperatures to be a little warmer than is forecast, since his crops need until late September to reach full yield potential. The corn and soybeans on his farm were planted mostly on time.
The Nebraska grower increased corn yield to 4 from 3.5 but left all other scores unchanged: corn condition at 4, soybean condition at 4, and soybean yield at 3.5. The corn got 0.4 inch (10 mm) of rain last week and the soybeans got 0.7 inch (17.5 mm), and the forecast is for another 0.5 inch (13 mm) this week. The rain has bolstered crop expectations after several weeks of too-dry conditions, but now the producer would prefer slightly warmer temperatures than are predicted.
All scores remain the same as last week: soybean condition and yield at 3 and corn condition and yield at 2.5. The fields got 2.75 inches (69 mm) of rain last week, which could boost soybean potential, but will likely have little impact on corn, which is up to 12 days from maturity or black layer. The fields are OK on rain for now, but a little more would not hurt. Overly hot temperatures early last week gave way to cooler ones later on, and the milder, more favorable conditions look to continue this week.
The Iowa producer increased corn conditions to 4 from 3.75 last week, but he left all other scores unchanged: corn yield and soybean condition both at 4, and soybean yield at 3.5. The fields got 2 inches (51 mm) of rain last week and another 1.5 inches (38 mm) overnight into Monday, which is especially favorable for pod fill in the soybeans. The producer does not mind the upcoming cooler temperatures but notes the crops really need some sunshine to finish.
The Illinois grower raised corn yield to 3.5 from 2.75 and soybean yield to 3.5 from 3.25. Corn and soybean conditions remain at 4 and 3.75, respectively. The fields got 1.3 inches (33 mm) of rain last week and the mild temperatures all summer have boosted crop expectations to slightly above average after a very wet and frustrating start. The producer has also noticed that because of the favorable summer weather, the replanted part of the corn field has just as much, if not more, potential than the original planted corn.
The Indiana grower left ratings unchanged this week: corn condition and yield at 2.25 and soybean condition and yield at 2.75. The fields received more than 2 inches (51 mm) of rain last week, and that was after a prolonged dry stretch that may have permanently limited yields. However, the Indiana soybean field was the final Crop Watch field planted on June 14, so the plentiful rain should help the filling of pods.
The Ohio grower left all scores the same as the previous week: corn condition 3.75, corn yield 3.5, soybean condition 3.5, and soybean yield 2.75. About 0.5 inch (13 mm) of rain fell last week, and the milder temperatures were very favorable after a streak of hotter weather that nicked the crops. More rain is in the forecast, which is ideal. Corn is about two to three weeks from black layer and the soybeans continue to add pods at a slow pace.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a market analyst for Reuters.
Field photos and more information on Crop Watch 2019 can be found on Twitter using the hashtag #CropWatch19 or by following the handle @kannbwx.
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.
Editing by Matthew Lewis