US crop concerns, which had been focused on the western Corn Belt, spread further east after data showed hefty deteriorations in corn and soybean condition, and hampered wheat harvesting.
The condition of all three major US crops, corn, soybeans and winter wheat, declined by 2 points overall last week, in terms of the proportion rated “good” or “excellent” by the US Department of Agriculture.
However, the headline readings disguised sharp differences in fates of crops in eastern Corn Belt states such as Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, where ratings declined dramatically under the deluge brought by Tropical Storm Bill, and more westerly areas, where ratings were largely stable.
Indeed, the extent of the difference in fortunes prompted Mike Zuzolo at Global Commodity Analytics to talk of “two corn crops being grown in the US”.
One, largely early planted, he termed “lush”, including even in parts of Illinois, while in the east of the state he reported, following a crop tour, “I have never seen such waterlogged corn stands” for the time of year.
‘Signs of distress’
In Illinois overall – the second-ranked US corn producing state and top soybean grower – the proportion of corn rated good or excellent dropped by six points to 70% in the heavy rains in the week to Sunday, while the rating for soybeans fell by 10 points to 60%.
The week brought the state 3.6 inches of rain – compared with a “normal” reading of less than an inch.
In neighbouring Indiana, the proportion of corn rated good or excellent slumped by 15 points to 58%, and of soybeans by 13 points also to 58%, as “persistent, heavy rains and strong winds left many corn, soybean, and wheat fields in standing water”, USDA scouts said.
“Flooding was more widespread, and soil moisture surpluses grew across the state while condition ratings declined,” with “many corn and soybean fields already show signs of distress such as poor colour and lodging”.
The scouts also noted that the rains, averaging 4 inches, prevented fieldwork such as crop spraying too, although the “full effects” of the missed applications, and of fertilizer leaching “won’t be known for some time”.
‘Areas of sudden death’
However, the worst impact was seen in Ohio, where the proportion of corn rated good or excellent slumped by 19 points to 61%, while that of soybeans tumbled by 14 points to 55%.
“Heavy rains throughout the state have brought on numerous concerns for producers,” USDA scouts in the state said.
“Standing water is evident in nearly every field, drowning out crops and favouring disease.
“The muddy, saturated fields have prevented producers from being able to spray and fertilize causing concerns over disease, growing pest presence, and increasing weed pressure.
“Yellowing of field crops and areas of sudden death are popping up around the state.”
‘Crop going backwards’
The impact of rains was also evident in USDA too on wheat, which showed not just a particular deterioration in crop condition in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio – all soft red winter wheat growing states – but an especially slow harvest too.
Indeed, while crops in major hard red winter states, such Oklahoma, showed “manageable deterioration”, the ratings for soft red winter wheat states “showed a crop that is going backwards fast”, said Brian Henry at broker Benson Quinn Commodities.
“The decline in winter wheat ratings was much more pronounced for soft red winter wheat,” and “point towards lower production” of the wheat type, the one which is traded in Chicago.
Mr Zuzolo said that the lag in harvest progress in hard red winter wheat states was “likely to quickly get made up” – an outcome not likely for soft red winter wheat areas.
Overall, the US winter wheat harvest was 19% completed as of Sunday, behind the typical 31% by then.
(Source – http://www.agrimoney.com/news/rains-provoke-emergence-of-midwest-crop-troublespot–8486.html)