Will El Niño be too late to save corn, soybean crop?

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Between the blistering heat, dominating drought and dismal forecasts, the USDA reported in its weekly Crop Progress Report even more bad news – declining crop ratings. Since last week, the nation’s corn conditions have dropped 8 percentage points; soybeans dipped by 5 percentage points.  Meteorologists also believe the strengthening El Niño in the Pacific Ocean could ease dry conditions in the U.S. later this summer, but will El Niño’s arrival be too late for American crops?

Corn: Silking doubles, ratings drop
Corn silking was reported at 50 percent, double the July 2 report. As Reuters reported last week, with more acres of corn now entering the key phase of pollination, the time when yields are set, each hot, dry day reduces output.

Nationally, just 40 percent of corn is rated in good to excellent condition, marking the third week of significant drops in ratings:

  Very Poor Poor Fair Good Excellent
This week 9 18 33 35 5
Last week 7 15 30 40 8
Last year 3 6 22 52 17

Many meteorologists have compared this year with 1988, so here is a look at the USDA’s Crop Progress data from July 10, 1988:

Indiana

 

Very Poor

Poor

Fair

Good

Excellent

July 9, 2012

27

34

27

11

1

July 10, 1988

46

44

10

0

0

Kentucky

 

Very Poor

Poor

Fair

Good

Excellent

July 9, 2012

34

38

23

5

0

July 10, 1988

50

38

12

0

0

Missouri

 

Very Poor

Poor

Fair

Good

Excellent

July 9, 2012

28

32

28

11

1

July 10, 1988

29

48

23

0

0

Texas, also compared to last year’s historic drought

 

Very Poor

Poor

Fair

Good

Excellent

July 9, 2012

4

8

29

47

12

July 11, 2011

35

27

25

13

0

July 10, 1988

2

12

28

44

14

U.S.

 

Very Poor

Poor

Fair

Good

Excellent

July 9, 2012

12

18

30

34

6

July 10, 1988

18

32

36

13

1

Bob Nielsen, a Purdue University corn specialist, points that in Indiana especially, much of the damage from the worst drought since 1988 is irreversible.

"A break in the drought and heat for the remainder of the season would certainly minimize further deterioration of the corn crop but would not result in recovery to anywhere close to normal yields," Nielsen said.

Doane Agricultural Services reports that the conditions do contract from 1988.

 “However, in contrast to 1988, generally favorable conditions in the northwestern Corn Belt should limit the downside for the national yield,” Doane experts wrote. “The 1988 yield was 84.6 bushels per acre, 25 percent below the long-term trend. The equivalent national average yield this year would be 120-125 bushels. Expectations for the yield are now sliding to 150 bushels or lower. If dryness persists into mid-July as currently forecast, the yield could fall to 145 bushels or lower, a level the market is seriously considering with December futures challenging the $7.00 mark this week.

Even states reporting higher-rated corn crops saw a drop this week. Minnesota dropped by 5 percentage points to 77 percent of corn rated in good to excellent condition. North Dakota also took a hit, dropping by 7 percentage points to 74 percent in these same conditions. See how your state is doing here.

Soybeans take hit too
Just under half of the nation’s soybeans - 44 percent – are blooming, compared to last year’s pace of 17 percent. Conditions for soybeans are also dropping thanks to the severe weather conditions.


Very Poor

Poor

Fair

Good

Excellent

This week

9

18

33

35

5

Last week

7

15

33

39

6

Last year

2

6

26

52

14

The same states struggling with corn are also struggling with soybeans, including Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri. All three of these states have reported at least 50 percent of their soybeans in very poor to poor condition. Minnesota, Mississippi and North Dakota reported the best conditions, though each state also fell from last week’s report. North Dakota fell the most, dropping by 6 percentage points to 71 percent.



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