WASHINGTON, July 15, 2014 – The U.S. corn crop, the nation’s biggest, continues to improve, with the fields in the best condition for this time of the growing season in years.

About 76 percent of the crop in the 18 main growing states were rated in good or excellent condition as of July 13, up 1 percentage point from a week earlier and a full 10 percentage points better than at the same time last year, USDA said Monday afternoon in a weekly report. In five states – Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania and South Dakota – the combined good-excellent ratings topped 80 percent.

Some 76 percent of the crop in Iowa was rated good or excellent, as was 75 percent of the crop in Indiana. Both states are major producers. Only one state North Carolina (16 percent), had combined poor or very poor conditions in excess of 10 percent.

The crop conditions have led some analysts to predict record production well in excess of 14 billion bushels, more than the USDA’s latest forecast for 13.860 billion bushels. The 2013 crop is the biggest on record, at 13.925 billion bushels.

About 34 percent of the crop was in the critical silking stage as of July 13, compared to 33 percent, the average for the previous five years.

For soybeans, the second most-valuable U.S. crop, 72 percent of the fields were rated good or excellent, the same as a week earlier but up from 65 percent a year earlier. About 41 percent of the plants were blooming, up from 37 percent at this time in 2013.

The USDA is predicting a record soybean crop of 3.8 billion bushels, up from 3.289 billion last year.

The spring wheat crop in the top six producing states was rated 70 percent good or excellent, the same as a week earlier and a year earlier. The winter wheat harvest was about 69 percent complete, just over the previous five-hear average of 68 percent, USDA said.

Some 53 percent of the cotton crop was rated good or excellent, down from 55 percent a week earlier but up from 42 percent a year earlier. The crop in Texas, the biggest growing state, was rated 39 percent good/excellent.

The rice crop was also in better shape than a year earlier, with 70 percent rated good or excellent, compared to 68 percent in 2013.


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