The condition of the U.S. corn  crop improved marginally last week and remained above a year earlier as rains across the Corn Belt were enough to prevent notable moisture stress but the first soybean  crop ratings of the growing season came in slightly below last year.
U.S. corn conditions were 72% good/excellent as of Sunday, unchanged from the previous week and up from 67% a year earlier, according to Monday afternoon’s weekly crop update from USDA . The portion of the crop rated excellent rose by 2 percentage points to 15%.
U.S. soybean conditions were rated 65% good/excellent compared with last year’s initial rating of 67%. The initial soybean rating came out a week earlier this year than last due to fast crop emergence. USDA estimated that 79% of the U.S. soybean crop had emerged as of Sunday compared with only 39% last year and the five-year average of 50%.
The trade, on average, was expecting a slight drop in the U.S. corn rating to 71% good/excellent, according to a survey taken by Reuters News Service. The U.S. soybean crop rating was below expectations, which averaged 69% good/excellent.
After a steep drop last week, corn conditions across Illinois and Indiana showed a very slight improvement last week. Illinois corn conditions were rated 66% good/excellent, while the Indiana crop was rated 59% good/excellent. Crop development remains well ahead of normal with the average height of Illinois corn estimated at 19 in., more than double the five-year average.
The Indiana office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service noted, however, that rainfall totals were minimal in some areas of that state, so relief from the drought conditions will be short lived if more precipitation doesn’t come soon.
In the top-producing state of Iowa, the corn condition ratings declined for the second week in a row last week, but were still strong at 77% good/excellent as of Sunday, down 2 points.
Soybean crop ratings indicate some stress on the crop across southern parts of the Midwest with Missouri crop conditions rated only 36% good/excellent and 19% poor/very poor. Soybean ratings remained marginally in Indiana at 52% good/excellent, up 1 point from what the state reported a week earlier, while the Illinois soybean crop was rated 60% good/excellent, unchanged from a week earlier.
The northwest part of the Midwest production belt has been a garden spot for corn and soybeans in the early part of the growing season. Minnesota corn conditions were rated 84% good/excellent with South Dakota corn conditions rated 83% good/excellent and North Dakota conditions 87% good/excellent. The Minnesota soybean crop was rated 77% good/excellent, with the South Dakota crop 83% good/excellent and the North Dakota crop 85% good/excellent.
Editor’s note: Richard Brock, Corn & Soybean Digest's marketing editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.