Agriculture • Tumble in health of US corn ‘has further to go’
Tumble in health of US corn ‘has further to go’
A bigger-than-expected drop in the health of the US corn crop, which has rated is as the worst in 20 years, is not the end of its decline, with dryness this week expected to take a further toll.
The proportion of US corn rated in "good" or "excellent" condition slumped by seven points to 56% in the week to Sunday, US Department of Agriculture data showed.
The decline, more than the two-to-three point drop investors had expected, compared with a 68% reading a year before, and indeed rated the crop worse than 2002′s, the worst in condition terms since 1990, according to a report by Paragon Economics and Steiner Consulting.
The soybean crop too – downgraded by three points to 53% in good or excellent health, a drop in line with market forecasts – rated as the worst since 1990, falling below the 1993 crop.
"This crop is in trouble in some important areas. And things are no better for soybeans," the briefing said.
‘Damage can no longer be reversed’
And a further decline can be expected given an outlook for dry weather for much of the US, Commerzbank said.
"No rainfall is forecast for the next 10 days in the Midwest either, so the condition of the plants can be expected to deteriorate even further," the bank said.
The dryness is particularly worrying at this stage of corn crop development, with the crop entering the heat-sensitive pollination period.
"Because corn in particular was planted early this year, many of the plants are now at a stage in their development where the damage can no longer really be reversed, even if more moderate and damper weather were to begin," Commerzbank said.
In Indiana, where "drought conditions have spread over most of the state… producers are concerned about corn pollination as the crop begins to tassel under very dry conditions", USDA officials said.
Indeed, the data highlighted the epicentre of crop concerns on states in the eastern Corn Belt and southern states, with areas to the west, and heading north to the Canadian border, showing far better crop condition.
In the southern Plains state of Kansas, of which all but 0.03% is rated as abnormally dry or in drought, and where "producers experienced relentless heat and wind" last week, row crops "showed increased signs of stress from the heat and lack of rainfall", the USDA said.
And in Illinois, the second-ranked producing state, where "weather patterns again turned hot and dry", the proportion of corn rated good or excellent tumbled by 15 points to 37%.
However, crops were stable and even improving in a pocket including North Dakota, Nebraska and, importantly Iowa, the top corn and soybean producing state.
"Conditions for all [Iowa] crops improved slightly for the week," the USDA said.
In Minnesota, where some areas received more than five inches of rain in the week, making flooding rather than drought a problem, 83% of corn and 63% of soybeans were rated good or excellent.
"Minnesota, about which we were very concerned when planting stared, is the garden spot," Paragon Economics and Steiner Consulting said.
The north-south divide was also evident in the relatively decent condition of some crops, such as oats and barley, grown largely in states such as Minnesota and the Dakotas.
The proportion of oats rated good or excellent rose by two points to 69% over the week, while spring wheat was seen as 76% in the two condition bands, a rise of one point.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Tue Jun 26, 2012 6:23 am
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