U.S. corn and soybean conditions improved last week as favorable rains boosted crops across western and northern parts of the Midwest, but crop development continues to lag well behind normal following a cool weekend.

Monday afternoon’s weekly crop update from USDA rated U.S. corn conditions 70% good/excellent as of Sunday, up 2 percentage points from a week earlier and 6 percentage points from a year earlier.

U.S. soybean conditions were rated 69% good/excellent, up 3 percentage points from a week earlier and 8 points from a year earlier.

The percentage of the U.S. corn crop that had reached the dough stage was put at 57%, up from 40% a week earlier, but behind 66% a year earlier and the five-year average of 79%.

The portion of the corn crop that had begun denting was pegged at 18%, compared with 25% a year ago and the average of 43%.

USDA reported that 85% of the U.S. soybean crop was setting pods as of Sunday compared with 86% last year and an average of 92%.

Corn conditions in the top-producing state of Iowa were rated 79% good/excellent, up from 77% a week earlier, but only 49% of the state’s crop had reached the dough stage against a five-year average of 72%, and 10% had reached the dent stage against an average of 34%.

In the No. 2 corn state of Illinois, corn conditions slipped slightly to 61% good/excellent from 62% a week earlier, and crop development remained far behind normal with only 12% of the state’s crop having reached dent stage against an average of 58%.

The biggest weekly improvement in corn conditions was noted in Kansas, where 71% of the crop was rated good/excellent as of Sunday, up 10 percentage points from a week earlier after very favorable rains.

Iowa soybean conditions also improved to 79% good/excellent from 77% a week earlier, while Illinois conditions held stable at 60% good/excellent

The portion of the soybean crop rated good/excellent also rose by 2 percentage points in Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Indiana. As with corn, the biggest jump in soybean conditions came in Kansas, where the portion of the crop rated good/excellent jumped 9 percentage points from a week earlier to 68% good/excellent.

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.