Sprout of corn on right side surrounded by dirt.

USDA crop progress: Corn nears the finish line

Corn planting progress reaches 92%, while soybean progress hits 77%.

From moderately behind to slightly ahead, the 2018 corn crop is already off to an interesting start.

In the latest USDA Crop Progress report, released Tuesday this week to accommodate the Memorial Day holiday, corn planting has reached 92% as of May 27 - up from 81% the week prior and a bit ahead of 2017’s pace and the five-year average, both at 90%.

Corn emergence in 2018 is also slightly ahead, at 72%. The pace this time a year ago was at 70%; the five-year average is 69%. The crop is at least 50% emerged in every major corn production state except for Pennsylvania (32%) North Dakota (34%), Michigan (40%) and Wisconsin (48%).

USDA began tracking corn crop condition this past week, too – and the agency thinks this year’s crop is off to a strong start, with 16% of the crop rated excellent and another 63% rated good. That total good-to-excellent rating of 79% was significantly higher than industry expectations of 72% and 2017’s start of 65%.

Another 18% of the crop is rated fair at this time, with just 3% rated poor or very poor.

Soybean planting progress, now at 77% complete, is even further along last year’s pace of 65% and the five-year average of 62%. Soybean emergence is also tracking ahead, with 47% this year versus 34% in 2017 and a five-year average of 32%. Seven states have already passed the halfway mark for soybean planting, including Arkansas (77%), Illinois (75%), Indiana (63%), Louisiana (92%), Mississippi (79%), Missouri (52%) and Nebraska (53%).

The winter wheat crop is also progressing physiologically, with 73% of the crop now heading. That’s not significantly behind the pace from a year ago (79%) or the five-year average (75%).

Crop quality continues to edge higher as well, according to USDA, with 38% of the crop rated good to excellent, versus 36% the week prior. Large portions of the winter wheat crop continue to struggle, meantime, with 28% rated fair, 20% poor and 14% very poor.

Spring wheat planting is nearly complete this year, reaching 91% as of May 27. That’s slightly ahead of the five-year average of 89%, but still can’t match 2017’s pace of 95%. Of that, 63% of the crop is emerged.

Here are some more crop progress updates of note:

  • Barley – 93% planted (up from 81% a week ago)
  • Oats – 94% planted (versus a five-year average of 95%)
  • Sorghum – 49% planted (slightly ahead of the five-year average of 44%)
  • Cotton – 62% planted (up from 52% last week)
  • Pasture and range condition – 49% good-to-excellent (versus 46% last week)
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