Key crops keep progressing toward five-year averages

by Laura Lloyd
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KANSAS CITY — A weekend of favorable weather, coupled with earlier scattered dry, sunny conditions, led to solid progress in the planting of row crops and spring wheat, helping to allay worries that the cool, wet spring would produce significant delays and sharply reduced yields.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent Crop Progress report released June 24 said the 2013 corn crop was 96% emerged in the 18 main corn-growing states, three percentage points behind the five-year average. Soybeans were 92% planted, compared with 95% for the five-year average in the 18 main soybean-growing states. The U.S.D.A. also reported that, in the six main spring-wheat growing states, the new crop was 96% planted as of June 23, three percentage points behind the 99% five-year average.

Other statistics in the report painted a picture of crops that had significantly mitigated the consequences of early delays in planting because of excessively wet field conditions. The U.S.D.A. said 81% of the soybean crop was emerged, up by 15 percentage points in a week but still behind the 89% emerged that is the five-year average.

A total of 95% of the hard red winter wheat crop, currently being harvested, was headed, equal to the five-year average. That crop had a limp beginning, with some growing areas in the grip of drought while others suffered from excess moisture and overly cool temperatures, even freezing at several junctures. The harvest made good progress in the week ended June 23 — moving from 11% complete to 20% complete — but it still lagged the five-year average of 37% considerably.

The spring wheat crop, which faced flood conditions in some upper Midwest states such as Minnesota and North Dakota, was almost completely planted. The U.S.D.A. said 96% of the spring wheat crop was in the ground, down from a 99% five-year average.

In addition to having been mostly planted in a timely fashion, the 2013 corn and soybean crops improved their condition. The U.S.D.A. said 65% of the corn crop in the 18 main growing states was in good-to-excellent condition and 6% was in very poor to poor condition as of June 23, better than last year on the same date, when 56% was good to excellent and 14% was poor to very poor, the U.S.D.A. said.

The 2013 soybean crop is also in better condition than a year ago on the same date. The U.S.D.A. said 65% of the new crop is in good-to-excellent condition and 7% is in very poor-to-poor condition as of June 23, up from 53% good to excellent and 15% very poor to poor at the same time a year ago.

The hard red winter wheat crop may have sustained some damage by the extremes of soil moisture and unseasonably late freezes of its growing season. The U.S.D.A. said 32% of the 2013 crop is in good to excellent condition while 43% remains in very poor to poor condition. A year ago at the same time, only 17% was very poor to poor while 65% was in good-to-excellent condition.

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