Ag Weather Forum

Ratings High in Early July

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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Corn pollination is running about a week ahead of average, with ratings just above a record year back in 2014. (DTN photo by Pam Smith)

Whether you want to say "in general"; or "overall"; or "macro"; or some other round-them-all-in type of description, row crop and spring wheat ratings this year have some high-shelf values, and progress is moving along well.

Corn crop good to excellent ratings declined by one percentage point to 76% good to excellent; down by a point from last week, but eight percentage points above the number a year ago. This rating total is also just above the rating total at the same time in 2014 -- which, as with 2017, turned out to be a year of record corn production. There was some reduction in the Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota ratings, with declines of one, three and five percentage points in the good to excellent totals respectively. That's not surprising, given the heavy rain and flooding that has occurred. But there were also states with improved ratings as well; Illinois rising by two points, and Missouri improving by six percentage points. Missouri's corn, however, at 52% good to excellent, is still indicating dryness issues.

Soybean ratings are also lower than a week ago, at 71% good to excellent, and down a couple points from last week. Again, though, the 2018 crop is rated higher than a year ago by seven percentage points on the good to excellent total. Iowa and Minnesota saw declines of three and two percentage points respectively, again due to flooding.

Row crop progress is impressive. Corn silking is more than double the five-year average at 17%. Soybean blooming is also more than double the five-year average with 27% estimated in the blooming stage.

Spring wheat is also showing some impressive numbers, with 77% rated good to excellent, 40 percentage points higher than a year ago, when the devastating Northern Plains drought was at its peak. In addition, heading of the spring wheat crop, reported at 58% this week, is 10 percentage points ahead of the five-year average. The 2018 hard red spring wheat crop, after going through a delayed planting phase, has certainly made up for lost time.

Cotton is still struggling, with just 43% rated good to excellent, only one point above last week, and 12 percentage points below a year ago.

Now, of course, the focus is on whether a big dose of stifling hot weather will sprawl out over the heartland during the next 10 days. Forecast models are leaning in that vein. Our support is for the European model presentation during the six- to 10-day period.

The European model suggests that upper-atmosphere high pressure (a ridge) will form again over the Rockies and the western Plains. This is in keeping with recent patterns. We expect to see episodes of hotter weather for the Midwest, with a few spells of cooler conditions and scattered showers, but not significant precipitation. Soil moisture reserves will be utilized, along with irrigation. A similar pattern is in store for the Southern Plains as well, with above to much-above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation.

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