Numerous comments have been made regarding the U.S. corn crop stage compared with 10 years ago -- after all, you have to go back to 2009 to find a year when the corn crop was this late in its final stages, along with harvest. And, a look at the different sectors of weekly progress and condition numbers from the USDA Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin offers some similarities and contrasts. Let's dive in.
Many of the key details in the 2019 and 2009 reports line up almost identically.
Early October 2019 finds the corn denting rate at 93 percent. In 2009, the denting rate was 95 percent. Laggard states on denting in 2019 are Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Ten years ago, denting was late in Illinois, North Dakota and Pennsylvania.
Corn maturity in 2019 stands at 58 percent as of Sunday, October 6. That figure is 18 percentage points behind a year ago and 12 points behind average. In 2009, corn crop maturity stood at 57 percent, 13 percentage points lower than the previous year and 27 points (almost two weeks) behind the five-year average.
Harvest progress was noted as most active for early October 2019 in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, with advances of 13 percentage points or more. Harvest activity was very similar in 2009, with the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin noting that Kentucky and Tennessee made good progress on corn harvest, due to producers in those two states having four or more days suitable for fieldwork.
Now, we come to the weekly statistic that shows a notable difference between the two years 2019 and 2009. This year, 2019, the weekly crop report as of the October 6 weekend placed 56 percent of the U.S. corn crop in good to excellent condition -- 1 percentage point below the previous week and 12 points below the same time period in 2018. Ten years ago in 2009, conditions were tabbed as much better: 70 percent of the corn crop in early October, 2009 was rated in good to excellent condition. That number was slightly up from the previous week, and 9 points above the previous year, 2008.
That difference in crop conditions shows the effect of a big difference in planting fortunes in these two years. In 2009, 93 percent of the U.S. corn crop was reported planted as of May 31. In 2019, only 58 percent of the U.S. corn crop was in the ground at the end of May. The lag in planting progress this year has echoed throughout the entire season. And, its impact is tangible in how yield expectations are running. Back in 2009, corn yield estimates increased from summer to the annual report, eventually reaching a then-record 165.2 bushels per acre. This year, the USDA corn yield estimate started at 169.5 bushels per acre in August, then declined to 168.2 bushels per acre in September, and is expected to slip again in the October estimate.
Ten years apart. Two crop seasons with so much in common, yet still with some key divergence.
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