U.S. crop progress continues strong

by Laura Lloyd
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WASHINGTON — Progress for U.S. wheat and row crops continued to show strong results in the latest week, as reported Monday afternoon by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The winter wheat crop was 64% good to excellent, up one percentage point from a week earlier and sharply higher than the 34% good to excellent posted a year ago for the end of April.

A total of 54% of the current hard red winter wheat crop in the 18 major states was headed as of April 29, up from 42% a week earlier and 29% in the same week a year ago, the U.S.D.A. said.

The largest state producer of hard red winter wheat, Kansas, was 74% headed, according to the U.S.D.A., much more than the 13% headed at the same time a year ago. Oklahoma’s hard red winter wheat crop was 97% headed, compared with 80% a year ago, and Texas was 82% headed as of April 29, up from 61% in the same week a year ago.

Hard red spring wheat plantings were continuing to proceed at a fast pace. A total of 74% of the crop was planted as of April 29, up from 57% a week ago and significantly more than the 9% planted at the same time a year ago. A total of 30% of the spring wheat crop had emerged, up from 18% in the previous week and only 3% a year ago, the U.S.D.A. reported.

In Minnesota, almost nearly all of the spring wheat was planted with 93% of the crop in the ground, compared with 2% a year ago, when flood conditions prevailed in the state. North Dakota at 66% planted as of April 29, also was experiencing vastly different crop conditions from 2011, when only 1% of the crop was seeded by the end of April, the U.S.D.A. said.

Farmers were also much further along in planting other major crops in 2012 compared with the same time in 2011, the U.S.D.A. said. Corn planting was especially advanced. In Illinois, 79% was planted, up from 59% a week ago and only 10% a year ago in the same week. Kentucky was 86% planted, up from 75% a week ago and sharply higher than the 17% planted a year ago. Ohio was 57% planted, up from 34% a week ago and massively higher than the 1% in the ground a year ago.

The corn crop was emerging as well, although not every corn-producing state was far along. Corn emerged in Illinois was at 34%, up from 21% a week ago and 2% in the comparable week a year ago, but Iowa was only at 5% emerged, up from 1% a week ago and none a year ago. The Kentucky crop was 56% emerged, up from 35% a week ago and only 5% a year ago, the U.S.D.A. reported.

Soybeans were following the trend of strong planting progress, the U.S.D.A. reported, although states such as North Dakota, Iowa and Kansas were not far along in their plantings. Indiana was 28% planted, up from 11% in the previous week and none by the end of April a year ago. North Dakota, however, was only 1% planted and Iowa was only 3% planted, compared to none planted a year ago, and Kansas was only 5% planted, up from 1% in the same week a year ago, the U.S.D.A. said.

Crop conditions across the Midwest have been much more favorable so far in 2012 than they were in 2011, when northern parts of the region flooded and middle and southern areas experienced severe drought. This year, drier weather, punctuated by favorable rains, has been the pattern so far.

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