FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Reuters) - Most of the U.S. Crop Watch corn and soybean fields welcomed rain over the last several days, but the crops in Illinois, Indiana and North Dakota are still in need of moisture.
The corn has hit a growth spurt after recent heat and plenty of sunshine, though the temperatures have moderated and the next few days should be favorable for growing crops.
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. (tmsnrt.rs/2Y1qfLZ)
Producers have assigned condition scores to their fields using a scale of 1 to 5. 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 rose to 4.09 from 4.06 a week ago as improvements in Minnesota and Nebraska slightly offset declines in Illinois and Indiana. That is a better score than the same weekend last year but slightly lower than two years ago.
The addition of North Dakota into the soybean conditions dropped the average to 3.75 from 4 last week, but the average of the other seven fields was unchanged at 4. Rains bolstered soybeans in Minnesota and Nebraska, but Illinois still awaits moisture.
The eight-field soybean condition score is similar to that in 2018 but a little better than last year.
The North Dakota grower keeps corn condition at 3 and rates the soybeans at 2. The crops missed out on much-needed rain last week, and the recent extreme winds damaged the newly emerged soybean plants. But most of the current crop problems stem from the excessive moisture issues that arose last fall. That has also caused plant counts to be lower than intended.
The reader is reminded that only 9% of the corn field and 30% of the soybean field could be planted, and that will be a consideration when evaluating yield potential.
Corn conditions in Minnesota rose to 4.75 from 4 and soybeans increased a half-point to 4.5. Hot and windy weather earlier last week gave way to 1.8 inches (46 mm) of rain on Thursday evening. The weather has been much more favorable ever since, leading to the score increase. The crops got a little over an inch of rain Sunday night, so they are good on moisture for now.
The Nebraska producer increased both corn and soybean conditions a quarter-point to 4 after late-week rains that totaled between 1 inch and 2.6 inches (25-66 mm). Plants are looking much better now, especially since the winds and temperatures have moderated. The grower sees the upcoming week as favorable for the crops.
Condition scores in Kansas remain at 3.5, but they have upside potential after some soaking rains over the weekend. Those rains totaled anywhere from 1.5 inches to 4 inches (38-102 mm), but some of the storms brought strong winds and hail, so the producer needs to check around his fields for any damage. Growing conditions are favorable over the next few days, and the grower expects the corn to respond well.
Winter wheat harvest began on Thursday and the early results suggest better-than-expected yields with high test weights but also high moisture. The wheat harvest is less than 5% complete in the area.
Conditions remain at 5 for both Iowa fields, but the crops would not maintain that rating for another week without some rain. Some much-needed moisture arrived on Monday morning, more than had been expected, so the fields should be good through the week. The grower is pleased with the upcoming weather forecast for this week.
The producer reduced condition scores to 4 for both crops after another dry week. Corn had been at 4.5 and soybeans at 4.75. However, a good shot of moisture could quickly restore plant health, though the forecast is a bit spotty through much of the week. Monday evening holds some rain chances, but after that, the next opportunity may be Friday or afterward. Moderate temperatures until then should slow the deterioration of crops should they miss out on Monday rains.
The crops in Indiana also missed rain last week, though some surrounding areas did receive sufficient moisture late on Sunday. The soybeans maintain a score of 3, but the producer reduced corn condition a quarter-point to 4 on stress from dryness. Parched corn plants have been rolling up their leaves in the hot and dry conditions during the day. Temperatures should be much cooler this week with chances of rain late Monday and on Tuesday, so there may be some upward potential for conditions.
Conditions in Ohio are unchanged on the week with corn at 4.5 and soybeans at 4. Up to an inch of rain arrived late Sunday night, providing enough moisture for the crops to go up to two weeks without more rain if necessary. There are more rain chances in the next couple of days and the temperatures will be cooler than last week.
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. (tmsnrt.rs/2AdG7Sh)
Photos of the 16 Crop Watch fields can be tracked on Twitter using the hashtag #CropWatch20.
(The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a market analyst for Reuters.)
Editing by Matthew Lewis