2020 US Corn Belt Crop Tour

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Midwest Yield Trends

U.S. Midwest Corn & Soybean Yield Trends

U.S. Midwest farmers reduced the total 2020 corn acreage from March intentions by 5 mil to 92 mil acres; soybeans up by just over 300,000 acres to 83.825 mil!

After last year’s early wet spring fiasco that delayed planting, U.S. Midwest farmers have raced off the blocks this year to avoid a repeat, especially in corn. The spring planting was brisk. The corn planting this spring was concentrated into a very narrow window, which could make the crop more vulnerable to adverse weather later in the summer because so much of the crop will be pollinating and filling grain at about the same time toward late-July/early-August. Despite some regions in the U.S. Corn Belt being less than ideal and not dry enough, farmers put ‘their strongest foot forward’ and tried to get as many acres planted as possible.

The USDA June Acreage report showed that the U.S. Midwest farmers planted 5 million corn acres less (at 92 mil acres) this year than they had intended in March! That is by far the largest move in either direction since at least 1996. And what’s more, the reduced acreage from corn did not go to soybeans. Soybeans acreage is up by much less than expected and wheat acres are down from March. According to USDA, in the June report, U.S. principal crop acres dropped by 7.2 mil from the March intentions report, and the major reductions were in the Dakotas and Texas.

Despite the reduced acreage, 92 million is still among the top 5 largest corn planted acres of all time. U.S. corn acreage saw reductions vs. March intentions in almost all major states except Wisconsin and Kentucky. North Dakota, expectedly, saw the most reduction of 25%, Arkansas and Mississippi are down by 20% and 23% respectively.

Only a bit over 300,000 acres were added to the March 20/21 U.S. soybean acreage estimate, which came in at 83.8 million acres and below market expectations. But this too will be the 3rd highest planted soybean acreage on record. North Dakota saw a reduction by 9% vs. March, but the Delta states and Indian saw increases in acreage. (Please see charts below)

usda june 2020 acreage report estimates

usda june 1, 2020 quarterly grain stocks report

The real impact of the lower corn acreage is that, in one move, the USDA removed about 1 billion bushels off their U.S. 20/21 corn production estimate. The game has been changed, at least until more is known on yield, which still has hot and dry weather on the radar, despite recent favorable weather.

U.S. soil moisture is below the long-term average

In the latest Crop Progress update, U.S. topsoil moisture improved in 8 states, while it deteriorated in 10 states. The improvements were mostly in the northern parts of the Corn Belt and the deterioration was in the central and southern parts. Minnesota, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and North Dakota had the best soil moisture in the latest USDA update, while Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, and Arkansas. (Please see charts below)

NOAA Departure from Normal Precipitation Valid as of July 15th, 2020

us precipitation map

us subsoil moisture condition

USDA Crop Progress as of July 12th, 2020

According to the USDA Crop Progress report released on July 12th, 2020, U.S. corn conditions dropped -2% G-E and added +2% to P-VP. The resulting 69% G-E & 8% P-VP are still much better than last year’s 58% G-E & 12% P-VP. A few states saw small improvement, like Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin, while Colorado was off -12% & Pennsylvania was down -11%. There were -4% G-E reductions in Texas, Nebraska and Michigan, and -6% in Ohio.

29% of the U.S. corn crop is now silking, slightly behind average but well ahead of last year's 14%. 3% of the crop is in the dough stage, mostly outside the real Corn Belt. (Please see charts below)

us corn condition

us corn condition

U.S. Soybeans are 68% G-E, down from 71% last week and below the trade estimate of 70%. Last year, the crop was 54% G-E on the same date. The states that saw the greatest deterioration were Arkansas with -2%, Illinois -4%, Indian -2%, Nebraska -3%, North Carolina -3%, North Dakota -2%, Ohio -6% and South Dakota -3%. The rains over the past 3-5 days touched most of these states although there are holes in that coverage. The states that saw the greatest improvement were Kansas with +2%, Kentucky +2%, Louisiana +2%, Mississippi +35, Missouri +2% and Wisconsin +4%.

Soybeans are 48% blooming, ahead of the 40% avg. for this date. They are 11% setting pods, near the 10% avg. for this date. (Please see charts below)

us soy condition

us soy condition

U.S. Midwest Weather Update as of July 15th, 2020

CPC's latest outlook (as of June 30th) for July 2020 suggest that the entire U.S. Corn Belt is likely to be warmer than usual. But the first half of the month has seen more rain than expected which has provided some relief to the crops, that had generally been facing dry conditions prior. (Please see maps below)

NOAA 1-Month Temperature Outlook Valid as of June 18, 2020

More rains than expected in the near-term but drier by late-July

The weather forecast supports scattered showers and thunderstorms in much of the U.S. Midwest over the coming week with a little less rain in the second week of the outlook, according to World Weather Inc. The second week outlook may not be as aggressive with rainfall as this first week, but there is still scattered showers and thunderstorms expected while temperatures are warm. The southwestern Corn Belt may be driest, but there will be a generally favorable crop environment still prevailing into the last days of July even though the latest GFS model run has reduced some of the second week rainfall. Corn pollination still looks to be successful in the majority of the Midwest even with a few drier pockets still possible. (Please see map below)

GFS Total Precipitation

As we look at how the U.S. Midwest has fared so far this summer, many areas are seeing a top 20-30 warmest on record, especially in the north. Multiple areas in eastern Kansas, western Missouri, and southwestern Iowa, Indiana and Ohio are running in the top 20-30 driest on record. (Please see maps below)

Linear Forecast Trend

U.S. Drought Monitor shows expansion of dry conditions in Midwest

The U.S. Drought Monitor map continues to show an expansion in the Southern Plains and the ECB is dry. Recent rains help some regions, but others are not out of the woods yet. (Please see map below)

temperature map


Conditions on the ground are still mostly dry but as of now the 6-10 day and 8-14 day maps are warm, but not too hot, and damp, which is beneficial for pollinating crops. Trade estimates that close to 2/3rd of the U.S. corn crop will be pollinating by the end of that forecast period?

The first weather rally scare is over, but we could still get a second weather scare as the long-term forecast remains hot and dry. The weak La Niña is proving that the hot and dry weather could be just the beginning?

2020 US Corn Belt Tour
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