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Crop Conditions Hold Steady as Harvest Approaches

Market Intel / August 28, 2018

USDA’s August 27 Crop Progress report reveals 68 percent of the U.S. corn crop is in good-to-excellent condition, unchanged from last week. Analysts expected the conditions to stagnate this time of year as crops are maturing. The percent of crops in good-to-excellent condition is up slightly over the five-year average of 67 and up 6 percentage points over the prior year. Crops in poor-to-very-poor condition have also remained unchanged from last week’s 12 percent. Figure 1 outlines the condition break-down on a state-by state-level for corn crops.

For the week ending August 26, USDA reports 66 percent of the soybean crop is in good-to-excellent condition, up 1 percentage point from last week. The figures seen this week are up 5 percentage points from last year’s 61 percent and up 1 percentage point from the five-year average. Soybean crops in poor-to-very-poor condition have remained unchanged from last week at 11 percent. Figure 2 outlines the condition breakdown on a state-by-state level for soybean crops.

Cotton crop conditions have seen a slight increase in what has been a very dry year. USDA estimates 44 percent of the U.S. cotton crop is in good-to-excellent condition, up 2 percentage points from last week. The current rating is down 21 percentage points from last year’s rating of 65 percent. This past week areas of the Cotton Belt received some much-needed precipitation of about 1 to 6 inches, leading to improvements in crop conditions. The percent of crops in poor-to-very-poor condition has increased substantially over last year’s 11 percent, up 20 percentage points, to 31 from last. Figure 3 outlines the condition break-down on a state-by-state level for cotton crops.

Megan Nelson
Economic Analyst
(202) 406-3629

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On July 26, the Department of Labor published a proposed rule that would amend its regulations regarding certain provisions of the H-2A program. Among the many changes in the proposed rule are revisions to the methodologies used to determine the Adverse Effect Wage Rate. Rather than a single AEWR for all H-2A workers within a region, DOL has proposed AEWRs by agricultural occupation. The proposal reflects the department's concern that the current AEWR methodology for field and livestock workers (combined) may have an adverse effect on the wages of workers in higher-paid agricultural occupations, such as farmworker supervisors and construction laborers on farms. Following the data supplied by DOL in the proposed rule, this Market Intel will look at what the proposal means for farms utilizing the H-2A program.

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While on the higher side of pre-report estimates, the USDA September Crop Production report shows corn and soybeans yields are down from 2018 and lower than the projections posted in the USDA August Crop Production report.

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