Drier and hotter weather in the US, plus storms bringing hailstones "nearly
the size of a softball", wrought a
surprise reversal in the condition of corn and soybean crops with ideas of dryness
continuing to rise in some parts of the Midwest.
The proportion of the US corn crop rated "good" or "excellent"
fell by 1 point in the week to Sunday, the first decline in five weeks to 75%, US
Department of Agriculture data showed.
For soybeans, the proportion seen as good or excellent
dropped by 2 points to 71%.
Although these ratings are still unusually high for the time
of year, the falls defied market expectations of at least stable numbers, and
potentially some increase, and helped soybean futures extend gains in early
deals in Chicago, where the November contract was 0.7% higher at $11.15 a
"Although soil moisture levels are still good at lower
levels, rain will soon be needed to prevent yield expectations from being
revised downwards," Commerzbank said.
'In need of moisture'
The declines reflected the first spell of notably hot
Midwest weather in a summer marked, so far, by mild temperatures, which have
been ideal for corn pollination, a heat-sensitive process.
In Wisconsin, where the proportion of corn rated good or
excellent sank by 4 points to 72%, scouted noted that "crops on light soils
were in need of moisture", as the
proportion of soil rated short of very short of moisture tumbled 14 points week
on week to 23%.
"This is the first time short soil moisture has climbed into
the double digits this season," the scouts said.
Further west, in South Dakota, ratings of both corn and soybean
crops fell by 4 points, to 72% and 68% respectively, in a week which gave "very
little rainfall", although being accompanied by modest temperatures.
'Hail nearly the size
of a softball'
However, Brian Henry at Benson Quinn Commodities noted that the
"current areas of concern are south western regions of the Corn Belt", where
southern parts of Illinois, one of the top producing states are "starting to
In fact, Illinois crop ratings nudged higher last week.
But in southern neighbour Kentucky the proportion of corn
rated good or excellent tumbled by 9 points to 66% good or excellent, and of
soybeans by 11 points to 66, as the state suffered a cocktail of weather
setbacks – ranging from temperatures in the middle 90s Fahrenheit ahead of "severe"
"Portions of Lexington saw straight line winds around 95
mph, while one report from Leslie County measured hail at over 4 inches in
diameter, nearly the size of a softball," scouts said.
"High winds resulted in corn and tobacco being blown over in
a few locations."
However, "there were some reports of corn twisting due to
lack of adequate rainfall", while "some farmers reported soybeans are wilting
in the afternoons and a few are replanting double crop soybeans".
'Dryness will build'
To the west, in Kansas, the proportion of corn rated good or
excellent fell by 5 points to 59%, with the figure for soybeans dropping 6
points to 61%.
"Hot, dry conditions returned to Kansas, stressing crops in
many areas," scouts said, noting temperatures 2-6 degrees Fahrenheit higher
than normal in most of the state, with some areas recording temperatures above
And there are forecasts for a continued dearth of rainfall in
the south western Midwest, where MDA forecast that "dryness will continue to
build, especially in Missouri, south western Illinois and south western
"Dry conditions should continue in the drier areas in the
six-to-10 day period," before "notable improvements" in conditions in the second
week of August.
'Dry weather has
The drier weather has, however, proved helpful for US cotton
crops, which thrive on drier and warmer weather, and had struggled somewhat
with the cooler start to summer.
Signally, in Texas, the top cotton growing state, where corn
and soybean condition both declined a notch, the proportion of the fibre rated
good or excellent rose by 2 points to 39%.
"The majority of the state averaged no more than 0.5 inches
in rainfall," scouts said noting that some areas "experienced hot and dry temperatures
with minimal moisture".
In Arkansas, where the proportion of cotton seen as good or
excellent rose by 4 points to 71%, one scout noted that "dry weather has
arrived" but that "heat units are needed to mature our rice and cotton crops".