Corn, soybeans down from last year's record harvest

Quality of crops improves slightly in latest USDA report

Corn rows show their tassels in central Illinois last week. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Corn rows show their tassels in central Illinois last week. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

The quality of the Illinois corn and soybean crops improved slightly in the latest USDA report, even as farmers came to terms with a decline from last year’s record yields.

The USDA Crop Progress report released Monday by the National Agriculture Statistics Service found that the quality of Illinois corn inched up through the end of last week, with 5 percent rated excellent and 37 percent good, both up a percentage point from last week’s report. The same 39 percent was rated fair, meaning the percentage of the state corn crop rated poor or very poor declined slightly from 21 percent to 19 percent.

Illinois soybeans also showed improvement, up to 6 percent rated excellent and 34 percent good, from 4 and 35 percent the week before. The percentage rated fair inched up from 38 to 40 percent, meaning the percentage rated poor or very poor dropped from 23 to 20 percent.

Illinois farmers have been playing catch-up ever since heavy rains and flooding delayed or prevented planting across the state this spring. The USDA recently declared the entire state an agriculture disaster.

Illinois farmers were still coming to terms with a decline in the expected yield in bushels per acre compared with last year’s records. Estimates released last week found that corn was expected to produce 181 bushels an acre this year, down from a record 210 last year, and soybeans were expected to produce 55 bushels an acre, down from last year’s record 65.

Rodney Weinzierl, executive director of the Illinois Corn Growers Association, continued to question federal estimates that found corn acreage actually holding fairly steady from last year at 10.5 million acres, down from 10.9 million — considered “shocking” by one market analyst, in that it increased the expected supply this year, causing prices to drop.

Weinzierl told he expected those estimates to be adjusted when the next Crop Production report is released in September. “There does seem to be a disconnect somewhere because the NASS acreage estimate for corn planted in Illinois is higher than what our farmer-members are telling us is out there,” he said, “and higher than the numbers that are being shared anecdotally by crop insurance agents.”