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Rains cause patchy corn losses but cotton improves

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Heavy rains took a toll on row crops in some major US producing states, costing corn its rating as the best in 20 years, but helped cotton improve to score among the highest of the past decade.

The rains proved too much for crops in some states, including Iowa, the top ranked corn and soybean producing state, where "severe storms brought high winds and hail", US Department of Agriculture scouts said.

One part of the state, Hampton, received more than 8 inches of rain, while the state-wide average, at 3.7 inches, was three times the average.

The proportion of Iowa corn rated "good" or excellent" fell by 4 points to 79%, with the figure for the soybean crop down three points at 76%.

'Series of tornadoes'

The decline was even more severe in neighbouring Minnesota, where "widespread precipitation left soil saturated, stressing crops and delaying efforts to finish planting", USDA scouts said.

"Wet field conditions also hindered crop spraying and the first cutting of hay," with last week offering only 1.1 days deemed fit for fieldwork.

The proportion of Minnesota corn rated "good" or excellent" tumbled by 9 point to 70%, with the figure for the soybean crop plunging 10 points to 64%.

In Wisconsin, where the corn rating dropped three points, scouts reported that "day after day of severe thunderstorms halted field work this week", with "high winds and hail" damaging crops in some areas and a "series of tornadoes" last Monday night.

"The most widely reported problem for farmers was repeated heavy downpours falling on already saturated soils.

"Soil erosion, ponding, and flooding were reported statewide, stressing or outright drowning some fields."

'Excellent for crop growth'

However, where rainfall was less severe, it was considered a boost to crop condition, as in Indiana, where the precipitation "with warm temperatures has been excellent for crop growth", USDA scouts said.

The proportion of US corn overall rated good or excellent fell 2 points to 74%, a historically high figure, if no longer around the best in at least 20 years, falling firmly behind the 1999 crop and in line with 2003 and 2010 crops.

For soybeans, the proportion nationwide rated good or excellent dropped 1 point to 72%, although that still left it the best in at least 20 years, ahead of the 2003 figure of 70%.

Cotton improvement

For cotton, the proportion of crop rated good or excellent rose by 2 points to 53%, turning a crop which was of roughly average condition, by the standards of the past decade, at the start of June into one of the highest rated.

It now ranks third over the past decade, behind 2005 and 2010.

Rains in the southern Plains, easing long-standing drought conditions, have been an undoubted benefit to spring crops, with the proportion of cotton in Texas, the top producing state, viewed as good or excellent up by 3 points at 40%.

Wheat quality fears

However, the rains have come too late to rescue southern Plains hard red winter wheat, in fact potentially posing a quality threat, while in Midwest soft red winter wheat raising concerns over the spread of vomitoxin, a fungal residue which can lead to grain being deemed unfit even for feed.

"The Ohio River Valley is experiencing incidents of high vomitoxin and light test weight in new crop soft red winter wheat, as the crop continues to turn," CHS Hedging said.

At Benson Quinn Commodities, Brian Henry said: "The quality of the soft red winter wheat crop has suffered, with vomo being mentioned in many areas and a large portion of the early harvest coming off sub #2 grade."

In fact, the proportion of winter wheat rated good or excellent remained stable at 30%, with the harvest now 33% complete, up 17 points week on week.


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