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June 8, 2016

U.S. Crop Conditions Improve with Warmer Weather

Corn - The condition of the 2015 U.S. corn crop improved 3% last week to 75% rated good to excellent. Eleven states indicated that the corn condition had improved last week and 4 states indicated that the corn condition had declined last week. Most of the improvements were found across the Corn Belt while the declines were limited to four states - Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota. The five states with the highest rated corn are: Wisconsin, Tennessee, North Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. The five states with the lowest rated corn are: Pennsylvania, Kansas, Kentucky, South Dakota, and a tie between Ohio, Missouri, and Indiana.

The corn condition is slightly better than last year and the 15-year average. The warm and humid conditions over the last few weeks has been conducive for early corn development. The topsoil moisture is starting to dry out somewhat and the warmer temperatures forecasted for later this week will accelerate the drying, so that is something we will have to monitor going forward. As of now, I would say the corn crop is getting off to a good start.

Soybeans - The first crop rating for the U.S. soybean crop indicated that 72% of the crop is rated as good to excellent. The five states with the highest rated soybeans are: Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee, North Dakota, and a tie between Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The five states with the lowest rated soybeans are: Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Mississippi, and a tie between Illinois and Kentucky.

The first soybean condition rating for the season indicated that the crop is slightly better than last year and the 15-year average. The soybean crop is 83% planted and 65% emerged, which are both ahead of the average. I would say the soybean crop continues to get off to a generally good start.

Soil Moisture - The nation's topsoil moisture got dryer last week with 8 states indicating that the soil in their state got wetter last week and 10 states indicating that the soil in their state got dryer last week. Most of the wetter conditions were found in the Delta and the far northern Corn Belt while most of the dryer conditions were found in the central Corn Belt. The five states with the wettest soils are: Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Missouri. The five states with the driest soils are: Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Indiana, and a tie between North Dakota and South Dakota.

When I ran the model for the first time last week and again this week, I was somewhat surprised that it indicated that the topsoil moisture across the country was dryer than the 15-year average. I knew it was significantly dryer than last year when there was extensive ponding and saturated conditions in early June, but I had not expected it to be dryer than the long term average, so that was a surprise.

I don't want to make too much of this, but the forecast for later this week is for temperatures in the upper 80°s or lower 90°s and if that forecast verifies, the soils will continue to dry out quickly. Even though the crops are using very little moisture at this stage, there is also little vegetative cover, which allows for increased evaporation from the surface of the bare soil. At this point, I do not view the soil moisture as a problem, but it is something we need to watch going forward.