Thanks to the searing heat wave, only 30% of the U.S. soybean crop was rated as good or excellent as of Aug. 25, down from 64% at the start of the month. Significant further deterioration was sustained in the final days of August. Over a three-week period, new crop soybean futures prices were up nearly $2 a bu. Prices of wheat and corn have risen, too, but not nearly as much. Thankfully, prospects for corn remained excellent on the eve of the fall harvest, with confidence standing for a record crop.
Heat, not dryness, was the principal problem in most areas, at least initially. Even as prices began to surge in mid-August, subsoil moisture ratings generally were adequate in most growing areas. In his monthly weather column (see Page 42) meteorologist Drew Lerner calls this summer’s weather a “perfect example of how production is far more influenced by temperatures than by precipitation.” It’s also a good reminder that risks to major crops do not end with the wheat harvest and the corn pollination period.