Mixed Crop Conditions Across The U.S.


August 1, 2022



In the national news we continue to hear about the drought and extreme heat in the southern plains and western States, while the focus has been excess rain and flooding in in places like Kentucky and the St. Louis area. Even in the Upper Midwest, there is a wide range of soil moisture and crop conditions across the region, with some areas getting very dry and approaching drought conditions, while other locations actually having received excessive rainfall. Portions of the Upper Midwest States received some much-needed rainfall this past weekend, ranging from a few hundredths of an inch to near two inches in some locations. Most areas received fairly small amounts of precipitation; however, the rainfall provided some much-needed temporary relief to crop deterioration in very dry areas.

The southern half of Minnesota provides a great example of the variability in rainfall during June and July. The University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Center at Waseca in eastern south-central Minnesota received 4.36 inches of rainfall in June and 4.6 inches in July, for a two-month total of nearly 9 inches, which is less than an inch below the long-term average June and July precipitation for that site. By contrast, the U of M research site at Lamberton in southwest Minnesota received only 1.07 inches of rainfall in June and 1.59 inches in July, for a two-month total of only 2.62 inches, which is well below the long-term average of 7.73 inches for the two-month period. The available stored soil moisture at the Lamberton site is well-below normal and is comparable to late July in 2021.

There is a growing area of Minnesota extending from the south edge of the Twin Cities into South Central Minnesota, as well as into portions of West Central Wisconsin, that is categorized in either “moderate drought” (D1) or “severe drought” (D2) category in the latest “U.S. Drought Monitor” on July 26. A large portion of the southern half of the State and the north half of Wisconsin, except for Minnesota counties near the Iowa border, were listed as “abnormally dry” in the latest Drought Monitor. Nearly all of North Dakota and the northern half of Minnesota, as well as northern and eastern South Dakota, are not listed in any drought category or as being abnormally dry in 2022. A year ago in late July, nearly all of these same areas were in the “extreme drought” (D3) or the D2 drought category in late July and early August.

According to the latest Drought Monitor” map, the areas categorized by some level of “drought” in the Drought Monitor have been expanding further into the portions of the Midwest in recent weeks. Much of Nebraska, as well as portions of southern South Dakota, and northwest Iowa are now categorized to be in either the moderate drought (D1) or severe drought (D2) category, with a small portion of northeast Nebraska and northwest Iowa categorized in the extreme drought (D3) category. Nearly the entire western third of the United States is in either severe, extreme, or exceptional drought, with a majority of the region in the two top-level drought categories. About the only exception to being under the intense drought pressure are the northern tier of States near the Canadian border. Areas that are in the extreme or exceptional drought areas are likely seeing significant crop loss and limited forage production, as well as longer term effects on lakes, rivers, streams, and ground water supplies.

Sometimes the “Drought Monitor” is somewhat misunderstood. It is meant to measure the overall long-term impacts of extended drought conditions, as compared to representing current crop conditions. This is why some areas that are listed in “moderate” or “severe” drought may still have fairly good crop potential with below average rainfall, provided that these areas have received some timely rainfall. Some portions of the Midwest also benefitted from starting the 2022 growing season with average or above levels of stored soil moisture, which has also helped maintain crop development through some very dry periods during the Summer months. However, it should be noted that the stored soil moisture levels have been rapidly depleted in many locations, with some areas now near zero available stored moisture.

The 2022 growing season started out with later-than-normal corn and soybean planting in many areas of the Upper Midwest, with especially delayed planting in North Dakota and portions of western and northern Minnesota, as well as eastern South Dakota. In addition, temperatures were cooler than normal during most of May, which got the planted crop off to a slow start in many areas. The good news is that the warm temperatures in June and July have allowed for rapid development of the crop and have all but eliminated the impacts of the later planting dates, except in those areas on North Dakota and Northern Minnesota that had the extremely late planting dates. In late May the crop “growing degree units” (GDU’s) were nearly 10 percent behind normal at many locations in Southern Minnesota; however, by the end of July, the GDU accumulation since May 1 had actually improved to 5-10 percent above normal in many portions of the region.

The weekly USDA Crop Report released on July 25 listed the condition rating of the corn in the U.S. at 61 percent “good-to-excellent”, which declined from 64 percent a week earlier. However, there is a wide variation in the “good-to-excellent” crop ratings across the major corn and soybean producing States. The highest “good-to-excellent” corn rating was 80 percent in Iowa, which is the largest corn producing States in the U.S. Some of the other higher crop ratings included “good-to-excellent” ratings were 79 percent in Wisconsin, 74 percent, in North Dakota, 71 percent in Illinois, and 65 percent in South Dakota. This compares to the much lower “good-to-excellent” corn ratings of 39 percent in Kansas, 46 percent in Indiana, 53 percent in Missouri, 55 percent in Ohio and 57 percent in Nebraska. Minnesota was at 63 percent, slightly above the national average.

The latest USDA Crop Report listed 59 percent of the U.S. soybean crop as “good-to-excellent”, which also declined by 2 percentage points from a week earlier. Wisconsin had the highest “good-to-excellent” soybean rating in the Midwest at 79 percent, followed closely by Iowa at 75 percent. By contrast, the “good-to-excellent” soybean ratings were 46 percent in Missouri, 48 percent in Indiana, 51 percent in Kansas and 54 percent in Ohio. The following States were between 60-64 percent “good-to-excellent”, which is just above the national average rating: Nebraska at 60 percent, Illinois at 61 percent, Minnesota and North Dakota at 62 percent, and South Dakota at 64 percent.

There is not a lot of historical correlation between weekly crop ratings in early August and final corn and soybean yields. Timely August rainfalls and favorable growing conditions can enhance final yield levels in areas that are not in extreme drought conditions; however, lack of late season rain events can reduce final crop yields in the very dry areas. The latter situation occurred in most of North Dakota, as well as a large portions of South Dakota and western Minnesota in 2021 when very dry conditions from late June until early September greatly reduced final corn and soybean yields. Farmers at many locations in this area experienced their lowest corn and soybean yields since the drought year of 2012. On the other hand, timely rainfall and favorable growing conditions in August and early September enhanced the final 2021 corn and soybean yields in much of southern Minnesota and Iowa, as compared to yield expectations in early August.

Some private companies will have Midwest crop tours later in August which may provide some indicators regarding 2022 corn and soybean yield trends in the region and allow for some early projections for total U.S. corn and soybean production in 2022. These crop tours tend to concentrate on the core areas of the Corn Belt in Illinois, Iowa, Eastern Nebraska, Southern Minnesota, and Southeast South Dakota, which account for a large percentage of the U.S. corn and soybean production each year. These crop tours will give us some guidance on anticipated 2022 U.S. corn and soybean production; however, given the wide variation in crop conditions across the Midwest, we will likely not have solid U.S. yield and production estimates until well into the harvest season.


Note — For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst and Sr. Vice President, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. (Phone — (507) 381-7960)

E-mail — kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com) Web Site — http://www.minnstarbank.com/


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