Fundamentally Speaking

Eradication of Drought Key in Very Favorable First 2024 US Corn Rating

Joel Karlin
By  Joel Karlin , DTN Contributing Analyst
Chart by Joel Karlin, DTN Contributing Analyst

The latest USDA drought monitor shows almost a complete lack of drought across the key agricultural regions as the soil moisture profile is the best for this time of year since 2020.

Soaking rains hit much of the Corn Belt during April and May and while this delayed plantings in some areas and perhaps led to some intended corn acreage not getting in the ground, the net benefit seems assured.

This is reflected using our usual ratings system where we weight the crop based on the percent in each category and assign that category a factor of 2 for very poor, 4 for poor, 6 for fair, 8 for good, and 10 for excellent and then sum the results this year's initial corn rating is 770.

As we noted in an earlier blog piece, that is well above the 1986-2024 average of 745 and is the highest initial corn rating since 2018.

In fact, this is only the tenth time since the USDA started issuing national corn ratings in 1986 that the figure has been at 770 or higher.

A state-by-state breakdown of the first corn crop ratings of the year vs. the initial 2023 condition report notes that there are a number of states that have much higher ratings this year than last including IL, KS, MO, NE, PA and SD and for almost all, this is linked to much lower D1-D4 drought ratings as of the end of May compared to the end of May 2023.

IL has zero percent in any sort of drought vs 31% a year ago with their initial crop rating 6.2% better than a year ago, KS has 48% of corn area in drought vs 86% a year ago with a crop rating 65.5% better than a year ago, MO with no drought vs 50% a year ago with crop ratings 6.7% higher and a really big change in Nebraska where just 6% of states corn area in some form of drought vs 84% last year resulting in a first corn crop rating 8.1% ahead of the year ago level.

With the exception of CO, MN and WI, all of the other top corn producing states have equal or lower percent of their corn area in drought for the end of May vs end of May last year.

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