USDA  rated the U.S. corn crop 57% good/excellent as of Sunday, down from 60% a week earlier and 70% a year earlier, while pegging soybean conditions at 59% good/excellent vs. 61% a week earlier and 64% a year earlier.
The 3-point drop in the corn crop rating was larger than expected with the trade generally looking for a 1-2-point drop in both the corn and soybean ratings.
Meanwhile, U.S corn development has nearly caught up with normal as 73% of the crop had reached the dough stage by Sunday, on par with the five-year average, while 33% had reached the dent stage against an average pace of 37%.
The most eye-catching numbers in USDA’s weekly crop update were the condition ratings for the corn crop in the No. 2 producing state of Illinois, as the good/excellent rating for the crop there plunged 8 percentage points to only 42%. Some 20% of the Illinois crop was rated poor/very poor, up from 17% previously.
The Illinois soybean condition rating also declined by 4 percentage points to 53% good/excellent, while 13% of the crop was rated poor/very poor.
Rainfall was below normal last week across all Illinois crop districts and statewide topsoil moisture was rated 66% short/very short and 34% adequate by the state office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Conditions also continued to drop in the top corn- and soybean-producing state of Iowa, with the corn crop there rated 63% good/excellent as of Sunday, down from 67% a week earlier and soybean conditions rated 66% good/excellent down from 70%.
While southwest Iowa received timely rains last week, much of the state remained dry. Iowa topsoil moistures was rated 50% short/very short and subsoil moisture was rated 43% short/very short up from 36% a week earlier.
Even if dry areas of Illinois and Iowa receive rainfall now, the impact on corn yields is likely to be limited as crop development in those crucial growing states has been pushed ahead of normal.
Some 53% of the Illinois corn crop is already denting against the five-year average of 45%, while 51% of the Iowa crop is denting against an average pace of 40%.
And there is no significant rainfall in the short-term forecast, with most of the Corn Belt expected to see light rains of only 0.10-0.50 in. during the five-day period ending Saturday.
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.