By: Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University
For the past week I have been traveling, first for meetings, then for vacation. However, a market analyst is never completely on vacation when there is a chance to observe agricultural conditions. A week ago, we traveled through the Oklahoma Panhandle, where the last bit of wheat harvest was finishing. Pastures appeared very green for that area for mid-July. Into southeastern Colorado, wheat harvest was well underway and producers were reporting record winter wheat yields. With excellent moisture conditions, even volunteer wheat and grow back after late grazing was producing good wheat yields. Pasture conditions have been very good and cattle gains were excellent through winter and spring. Like the Oklahoma Panhandle, the semi-arid region of southeastern Colorado looked very green for mid-July.
After a couple of days in Denver, we headed east on Interstate 70 where wheat harvest was not really started but the wheat looked very good. Last week Colorado reported 33 percent of wheat harvested in the state compared to 46 percent for the five-year average. Pasture conditions again looked very good with Colorado reporting 71 percent of pastures in good to excellent condition, up from 60 percent one year ago. We traveled the entire length of Kansas west to east on I-70 to Kansas City. As more corn appeared, it also looked in very good condition with the state reporting 67 percent of corn in good to excellent condition. In western Kansas, the majority of the corn is not yet or just beginning tasseling. In eastern Kansas and across Missouri on I-70 more of the corn is tasseling and with no signs of stress on corn or soybeans. Last week 71 percent of Missouri corn and 65 percent of soybeans were reported in good to excellent condition.
From St. Louis, we traveled across southern Illinois and Indiana on Interstate 64. Corn conditions were very good with Illinois and Indiana reporting 76 percent and 74 percent in good to excellent condition. While the majority of corn is tasseling, it is apparent that a significant portion of corn in this area was planted later, is 18 to 24 inches shorter, and not yet tasseling. This later corn needs more time for pollination and is vulnerable yet for late July weather conditions. Soybeans also look very good with the two states reporting 74 and 72 percent in good to excellent condition. A limited amount of late planted soybeans are still very small.
From Louisville we dropped into central Kentucky and then into north central Tennessee yesterday. Pasture and crop conditions in both states appear very good, at least for the parts we have seen. Looking at the drought monitor map, it is clear that we missed some dry areas including south central and eastern Tennessee and other parts of the southeast where Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas are all reporting growing percentages of poor and very poor pasture conditions. Some drier conditions exist in the northern Plains, the eastern Cornbelt and extend into the northeastern part of the country. Parts of the West are still dry with California reporting 40 of poor to very poor pastures conditions but that is down from 50 percent this time last year. Dry conditions have redeveloped in parts of the Pacific Northwest.
All in all, conditions are quite good in much of the country with summer well underway. My travels this last week have revealed very good crop and pasture conditions across the middle of the country in a nearly 1200 mile line west to east from the Rocky Mountains to the Mid-South.