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Best Corn Crop Start Since 2007; Wheat, Soy Seedings Gain

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May 21 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. cornfields are in the best shape for this time of year since 2007 after warm, dry weather led to early planting and recent rains gave plants a good start, the government said. Soybean and wheat planting moved closer to completion.

About 77 percent of the corn was in good or excellent condition as of yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in its first assessment of this year’s crop. An estimated 96 percent was planted, compared with 87 percent a week earlier, 75 percent a year earlier and the previous five-year average of 81 percent. About 76 percent of the seeds had emerged from the ground, up from 56 percent a week ago, 38 percent a year ago and the prior five-year average of 48 percent, the USDA said.

“The corn crop looks very good, but not perfect because of some lingering dryness,” Mark Bernard, the president of Agro-Economics Inc., a crop consulting company in Richmond, Minnesota, said today in a telephone interview. “Subsoil moisture supplies are low and we will need timely rains throughout the season to reach full yield potential.”

The report was issued after the close of trading on the Chicago Board of Trade, where corn futures for July delivery rose 0.4 percent to settle at $6.33 a bushel. The most-active contract jumped 9.4 percent last week, partly on speculation that dry weather may slow development this week.

Record Crop Forecast

Domestic corn production will jump 20 percent to a record 14.79 billion bushels as farmers plant the most acres since 1937, and yields will expand to a record 166 bushels per acre, the USDA May 10.

About 76 percent of the soybean crop was planted, compared with 46 percent a week earlier and the previous five-year average of 42 percent, the USDA said. Plant emergence rose to 35 percent from 10 percent a year earlier.

Farmers had sown 99 percent of the spring-wheat crop as of yesterday, up from 94 percent a week earlier, the department said. The average for the date for the previous five years is 78 percent. Plant emergence rose to 86 percent, compared with 50 percent on average during the prior five years, the agency said.

The winter-wheat crop was in worse shape than a week ago as adverse weather stressed crops from Kansas to Indiana, USDA data showed. An estimated 58 percent of the crop was in good or excellent condition as of yesterday, compared with 60 percent a week earlier. About 32 percent of the plants got the top ratings a year earlier.

Cotton planting was 62 percent completed, compared with 48 percent a week earlier and 53 percent, on average, the prior five years, the USDA said. Rice seeding in the top six producing states was 91 percent completed, up from 80 percent a week earlier and the average of 86 percent from 2007-2011.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Wilson in Chicago at jwilson29@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net.

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