Blogging by the Bushel
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At a time of year where we would normally be expecting corn and soybean conditions to begin to decline this year’s big crop is bucking the trend.  Tuesday afternoon (delayed due to holiday) the USDA showed crop conditions improving for corn and soybeans.  With conditions improving this late in the growing season does this mean that already big crops are getting bigger?

As of the week ending August 31st the USDA is reporting corn crop conditions at 74% good to excellent.  This is a 1% increase from the previous week.  This means that at this point this is the best rated corn crop in almost 20 years.  This is reigniting the talk about super sized yields and bigger production estimates.  While we will likely have a new record national average yield and a new record production figure will it really be as big as some of the more aggressive estimates?

The very good crop conditions and the very large production expectations highlight the potential of this corn crop.  However, we may or may not realize the full potential we have out there right now.  This crop conditions report also showed that the corn crop was 8% mature at this point compared to the 5-year average of 16%.  So, there is a good percentage of the corn crop that is a bit behind and we are getting to the end of the growing season.  An early frost, or at this point even a normal frost could cut into the potential of this corn crop and limit the upside potential of the national average yield.  Most weather forecasts at this point are not looking at a catastrophic frost event, but the situation will need to be monitored closely.

For soybeans the USDA reported the crop at 72% good to excellent for the week ended August 31st.  This is a 2% increase over last week and represents historically good soybean crop conditions.  This comes at a time where, like corn, we would normally expect conditions to begin to decline.  This also comes after a week that saw a lot of talk about soybean disease, namely SDS and white mold.  Diseases are still a concern, but this 2% increase in soybean conditions may put that discussion to rest for now.

Soybeans may have benefited the most from the consistent rains most areas have received since August 1.  Late season rains may have added bushels and weight to soybean crops.  Soybeans are also not as far behind as corn is.  The USDA is reporting that 5% of the crop is dropping leaves compared to the 5-year average at 7% and last year at 3%.  This may give soybeans a better shot at getting to the finish line but there is a lot of variance in fields right now and frost may be a limiting factor to the national average soybean yield as well.  However, with soybean crops rated 72% good to excellent and a least a week or two before the first chance at a frost it seems that the soybean crop could have gotten bigger in the last few weeks.

In all big crops could be getting bigger.  The potential for corn and soybeans certainly has gotten bigger with crop conditions improving.  However, it will take a little more time to react full potential.  Weather and when and where we get the first frost of the season will have a lot to say about how close these big corn and soybean crops get to their potential.

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