U.S. corn and soybean planting progress remains ahead of the normal pace and the corn crop is in good condition even though fieldwork and crop development were slowed last week by cold, wet weather across the Corn Belt.

In its first crop ratings of the season, USDA rated 2010 corn conditions 67% good/excellent as of Sunday. Last year the first crop rating of the season was slightly better at 70% good/excellent, but USDA did not rate the crop until May 31 due to slow development.

On average, over the past five years, USDA’s initial rating of the U.S. corn crop has been 68% good/excellent.

Corn planting advanced 6 percentage points to 87% complete as of Sunday compared to last year’s pace of only 61% done and a five-year average of 78%. Planting progress did slip behind the five-year average pace in the Dakotas.

USDA pegged corn emergence at 55%, nearly double last year’s pace of 28% and about a week ahead of the five-year average pace of 39%.

U.S. soybean planting progress advanced 8 percentage points last week, reaching 38% as of Sunday, up from 23% a year ago and the five-year average of 35%. Planting did slip behind schedule in the Dakotas and parts of the eastern Midwest.

USDA estimated that 13% of the U.S. soybean crop had emerged, compared with only 5% a year earlier and the average pace of 9%.

In the top corn and soybean state of Iowa, 66% of the corn crop was reported emerged compared with the average pace of 42%, while 8% of the soybean crop had emerged against an average of 5%.

The condition of emerged Iowa corn was rated 55% good/excellent and 9% poor/very poor with concerns about frost damage and flooding causing producers to watch crop development closely.

In No. 2 producer Illinois, 78% of the crop had emerged by Sunday against an average of 53%. Last year only 6% of Illinois corn had emerged by May 16. Illinois soybean emergence was pegged at 12% against zero last year and an average pace of 8%.

The Illinois corn crop was rated 73% good/excellent and 6% poor/very poor.

Editor’s note: Richard Brock, Corn & Soybean Digest's marketing editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.