By Julie Ingwersen
CHICAGO, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Weekly condition ratings for the U.S. soybean and corn crops declined in the past week after a spell of sweltering heat in the Midwest, government data showed on Monday, but not by as much as most analysts expected.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a weekly crop progress report rated 56% of the corn crop as good to excellent, down 2 percentage points from 58% a week ago, while 13 analysts surveyed by Reuters on average had expected a 3-point decline.
The USDA rated 58% of the soybean crop as good to excellent, down a point from 59% last week. Analysts on average had expected a 3-point decline in soybeans to 56%.
The relatively modest drop in ratings could ease fears about crop stress, particularly for soybeans, which are in their critical pod-setting phase. Benchmark Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures Sv1 topped $14 a bushel on Monday for the first time in a month, ahead of the USDA's report.
The good-to-excellent rating for corn is the third-lowest for this time of year since 2012, a historic drought year. Yet for soybeans, even with this week's decline, the good-to-excellent ratings are the highest for this time of year since 2020.
Pro Farmer, a division of Farm Journal Media, last week projected the U.S. corn harvest at 14.960 billion bushels, which would be the third-largest ever, but the figure fell below the USDA's latest forecast of 15.111 billion bushels. Pro Farmer pegged the soybean crop at 4.110 billion bushels, below the USDA's estimate of 4.205 billion. The United States is the world's No. 2 exporter of corn and soybeans, after Brazil.
Temperatures in Chicago reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) last week for the first time since 2012, the National Weather Service said, and unusually hot weather stretched from South Dakota and southern Minnesota through Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. Temperatures have since cooled but below-normal rainfall is forecast over the next two weeks.
For spring wheat, the USDA rated 37% of the crop as good to excellent, down 1 percentage point and matching the average analyst estimate. The USDA said the spring wheat harvest was 54% complete as of Sunday, in line with trade expectations but lagging the five-year average of 63%.
This was the last week that the USDA expected to release condition ratings on spring wheat, given that the harvest is more than halfway complete.
The winter wheat harvest is virtually complete. The USDA last reported harvest progress at 96% as of Aug. 20.
All figures in percent:
USDA last week
USDA this week
Corn condition ratings*
Soybean condition ratings*
Spring wheat condition ratings*
Spring wheat harvested (%)
(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago Editing by Marguerita Choy and Matthew Lewis)
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