U.S. crop conditions declined noticeably last week as dry conditions across the Midwest continued to take a toll on filling corn and soybeans, especially in the eastern half of the region.

Monday afternoon’s USDA weekly crop update rated U.S. corn conditions 61% good/excellent – down from 64% a week earlier, but above 59% a year ago.

U.S. soybean conditions were rated by USDA at 57%, down from 61% a week earlier and only 1 percentage point above a year earlier.

The drop in the soybean ratings was larger than expected as trade with trade estimates calling for a 1- to 3-point drop in the good/excellent rating.

The condition change for corn was in line for trade expectations for a decline of 1-3 points. Some decline was anticipated at this time of year, although corn crop development remains well behind normal.

USDA estimated that 83% of the U.S. corn crop had reached the dough stage, up from 68% a week earlier, but behind the five-year average of 91%.

However, only 45% of U.S. corn was reported denting compared with 75% last year and an average of 65% and only 6% of the crop was said to be mature against an average of 16%.

Soybean development also remains behind, although shorter day lengths are causing the crop to mature. USDA reported that 94% of U.S. soybeans were setting pods against a five-year average of 97%.

Signs of moisture stress continued to be most evident in the eastern half of the Corn Belt, which has been drier than normal since early July.

The corn crop rating for the No. 2 producing state of Illinois fell by 6 percentage points to 68% good/excellent, while the good/excellent rating fell by 5 points in Indiana and another 4 points in Ohio.

The biggest decline in corn conditions came in Wisconsin, where the good/excellent rating for the crop fell by 13 percentage points to 49%.

In the top corn state of Iowa, conditions also slipped, but not as much, as late week rains helped the state. The Iowa corn crop was rated 63% good/excellent as of Sunday, down from 65% a week earlier.

Iowa soybean conditions held relatively stable with the good/excellent rating for the state’s crop falling by only 1 percentage point to 62%.

Rating declines were larger across the rest of the Midwest with the Illinois soybean rating down 6 points to 62% good/excellent. The largest rating drops were in Wisconsin and Indiana, where the soybean good/excellent ratings fell 14 percentage points and 10 percentage points, respectively.

The Indiana office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported “growing concerns of light grain weight in corn and pod abortion in soybeans,” stating that “hot, dry conditions are causing the crops to shut down prematurely in some areas. “

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.