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U.S. Corn-Crop Conditions Are Unchanged; Soybeans Gained

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Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- The condition of U.S. corn crops was unchanged last week, and soybeans improved as cooler weather eased plant stress from the worst drought in half a century.

About 23 percent of the corn in the week ended yesterday was rated good or excellent for a third straight week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. The agency gave 31 percent of soybeans the top ratings, up from 30 percent. July was the hottest month on record in the U.S., excluding Alaska and Hawaii, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data show.

“The weather has stabilized and maybe benefited a few areas” in the main soybean-growing region, Jamey Kohake, the branch manager at Paragon Investments in Silver Lake, Kansas, said in a telephone interview before the data was released. “The reports are pretty much done. Now, people are going to start focusing on the harvest.”

Corn futures for December delivery advanced 2 percent to settle at $8.2375 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. Earlier, the price reached $8.25, the highest for a most-active contract since the rally to a record $8.49 on Aug. 10. The grain has jumped 63 percent since mid-June because of the drought.

Soybean futures for November delivery rose 2.3 percent to $16.835 a bushel. The price has gained 28 percent since June 15.

Soybean-meal futures for December delivery jumped 2.6 percent to $512.80 per 2,000 pounds. Earlier, the livestock feed reached a record $513.50.

Poor Ratings

The USDA data showed 51 percent of the corn crop was poor or very poor, unchanged from a week earlier, and 38 percent of soybeans got the lowest ratings, compared with 37 percent.

Corn farmers have harvested 4 percent of the crop, up from 1 percent a year earlier.

Rice farmers have gathered 18 percent of the crop, up from 14 percent a year earlier. The top ratings went to 70 percent of the grain, down from 73 percent a week earlier.

The USDA data showed that 79 percent of the spring-wheat crop was harvested, compared with 25 percent a year earlier.

Corn is the biggest U.S. crop, followed by soybeans, hay and wheat.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony C. Dreibus in Chicago at tdreibus@bloomberg.net.

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

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