Farmers welcomed a break in a late-season heat wave and dry spell, but did the cooler, rainy weather come too late?

Rain too late to help crops as corn harvest kicks offAccording to the USDA’s latest “Crop Progress” report, both corn maturity and harvest progress is about half of the five-year average, a trend that has continued for months. Currently, 22 percent of corn is mature and 4 percent harvested.

Corn conditions are still dropping, with 18 percent of the nation’s corn in poor or worse condition, compared to 17 percent last week. This percentage has dropped slowly – but steadily – since mid-August, when 11 percent of corn was reported in these conditions.

Thanks to excessive rain and flood across Colorado, 40 percent of corn in the state is in poor or very poor condition, compared to 33 percent last week. Further to the east, corn in Kansas, Iowa and Missouri are also showing signs of struggle after enduring weeks of near-triple digit heat and few rain showers.

Soybean maturity is creeping closer to average, with 26 percent dropping leaves. Like corn, however, soybean conditions are inching downward. Currently, 18 percent of soybeans are in poor or worse condition, compared to 16 percent last week. Many of the same states report high percentages of struggling soybeans, including Iowa and Missouri.

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There may be a break on the horizon for the Corn Belt, though it’s doubtful that it will be enough to help most crops. Temperatures are forecast to remain lower than average, easing the stress on some late-planted soybeans, but meteorologist Joel Widenor of the Commodity Weather Group warns that while 60 percent of the Corn Belt will see between 0.35 to 1.25 inches of rain, it will arrive too late to help most soybean plantings.

"From a soil moisture standpoint, it will start to reverse some of those deficits," Widenor told Reuters. "It's too bad it wasn't three or four weeks ago."

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