Ideas that heavy rains may be proving more beneficial than
harmful to US crops received a boost when data showed the condition of corn
showing a surprise improvement.
The proportion of US corn rated "good" or "excellent" rose
by 1 point to 75% in the week to Sunday, cementing its place as the second-best-rated
crop in the past 20 years, and beating market expectations for an unchanged
The data showed that heavy rains in some northern areas,
some of which received more than six inches over the week, indeed damaged
In Minnesota, where the proportion of corn rated "good" or "excellent"
dropped 5 points to 65%, "precipitation and wet field conditions continued to
stress crops and delay alfalfa hay cuttings", USDA scouts said.
"Conditions declined for all crops during the week as a
result of excess moisture and standing water."
In North Dakota, where the proportion of corn rated "good"
or "excellent" dropped 4 points to 81%, crops faced "cool temperatures and excessive
rainfall" l in the western half of the state.
Besides impairing crops directly, the conditions have "slowed
fieldwork", scouts said, noting that farmers were "having a difficult time
applying herbicides and cutting hay due to excessive moisture in the fields".
In Minnesota too, "many farmers have been unable to get equipment
into their fields, delaying fertilizer and chemical application", while in
Iowa, the top corn and soybean producing state, "recurring precipitation continued
to limit fieldwork".
'Corn was improving'
However, further south, rains proved more beneficial,
notably in the southern Plains where the precipitation is breaking drought.
In Texas, where the condition of corn improved by 2 points
to 64% seen good or excellent, "corn was improving due to recent rainfall",
USDA scouts said.
In Kansas, the proportion of corn seen good or excellent
rose by 4 points to 55%, despite thunderstorms which "brought widespread
rainfall over several days, and some hail damage to crops.
"The rain and high humidity… was beneficial for row crops
Taking to the air
A similar north south divide was seen in soybeans too, in
which a national crop rating static at 72% good or excellent disguised
deterioration in the north, offset by improvements in Kansas and the south.
In Mississippi, where the proportion of soybeans rose by 5
points to 68%, "growers are having to use planes" for spraying, "with the
ground too wet for hiboy tractors", one scout said.
"Weeds continue as the main issue."
For cotton, for which the southern US is the main growing
region, the benefits and damage from the US weather also balanced out, leaving
the proportion of crop seen as good or excellent at 53%.
For wheat, the rains did hamper harvest, with the harvest,
which had been running ahead of the average pace a week before, falling back
behind, at 43% finished compared with the typical 48%.
In Kansas, the top wheat producing state, where 40% of crop
was in the barn, compared with a typical 66%, scouts highlighted that the wet
conditions "limited wheat harvest last week".
However, the damp also fostered some late improvement in the
condition of the crop, offsetting declines in parts of the Midwest, where
vomitoxin, a toxic fungal residue, is being seen as a growing threat.
For spring wheat, grown in the northern US, the proportion
of the crop rated good or excellent eased 1 point to 70%, reflecting deterioration
in Minnesota and South Dakota.