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Why the latest USDA report offers little good news for farmers

By John Roach, AccuWeather staff writer
July 08, 2019, 4:42:51 PM EDT

Matthew Keller

Farmer Matthew Keller stands in his soybean field near Kenyon, Minn. The condition of soybeans in 18 key states dropped one percent from the previous week in the latest Crop Progress. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen)

The latest Crop Progress from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offered little comfort to U.S. farmers dealing with a difficult planting season. For the fourth straight week, the condition of corn and soybeans was rated below 60%.

The rain and flooding that has impacted Corn Belt farmers has affected the percentage of corn considered “good” or “excellent” in 18 key corn-producing states. That number this week is 57%; the first rating of the season was 59%, followed by consecutive weeks at 56%. The condition of corn rated “good” or “excellent” last year at this time was 75%.

The condition of soybeans in 18 soybean-producing states considered “good” or “excellent” is 53%, compared to 54% last week. That figure was at 71% this time last year.

The bad news continues for Illinois, which is joined by Iowa as the top corn-producing states, typically accounting for about one-third of the U.S. crop, according to the USDA. The condition of corn in Illinois rated "good" or "excellent" is just 37%, even lower than last week’s rating of 42%.

Other states with particularly poor corn condition data this week include Missouri (28%), Ohio (34%) and Indiana (38%). Those three states also had low percentages for the condition of soybeans, too: Ohio (28%), Missouri (35%) and Indiana (37%).

Next week’s numbers may not be much better.

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“The weather overall for the heart of the Midwest for the next 10 days is slightly negative,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Jason Nicholls. “There’s not a whole lot of rain, but the temperatures will be favorable because it will be somewhat warmer than normal. It does look like they’ll get some helpful rains later next week.”

A new AccuWeather analysis predicts there will be 13.03 billion bushels of corn produced this year. That would be the lowest total since 2012 when 10.76 billion bushels of corn were harvested. In 2018, the total was 14.42 billion bushels.

The USDA’s 2019 corn production estimate as of June 28 is higher, at 13.88 billion bushels.

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