WASHINGTON, DC, US — In its first assessment of the 2024 US soybean crop in the June 10 Crop Progress report, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) rated the crop in the 18 major growing states at 72% good-to-excellent as of June 9.

The initial rating was 22% (13 percentage points) higher than the 59% good-to-excellent rating for the same week last year. Soybeans in top producers Illinois and Iowa on June 9 were rated 69% and 73% good-to-excellent, respectively. Condition ratings for these two states were much improved compared to a year ago when the USDA gave soybeans good-to-excellent ratings to 47% in Illinois and 66% in Iowa.

During the same week, the USDA said 87% of the soybean crop had been planted, behind the brisk pace of 95% a year ago but above the five-year average rate of 84%. Emergence reflected a similar pattern with 70% of the crop emerged by June 9, behind the prior year’s pace of 83% but ahead of the 2019-23 average of 66%.

While planting progress for the US soybean crop slightly lagged the speedy pace set a year ago, the 2024 crop seems to be more robust in these initial stages. Of course, there is plenty of time for weather to disrupt the strong start, and high crop condition ratings early typically slide as the season progresses. From 2019-23, the soybean crop on average declined approximately eight percentage points from early June to early October.  

Abundant spring rains across major Midwest growing areas have provided a healthy boost to the crop this season. The US Drought Monitor said 6% of soybeans in Illinois and 23% of soybeans in Iowa were growing in areas that were abnormally dry, but neither state showed indication of drought. This is much improved compared to the prior year when 51% of soybeans in Illinois and 56% of soybeans in Iowa were growing in some level of drought.

As a result, topsoil moisture conditions were greatly enhanced. On June 9, the USDA said adequate-to-surplus topsoil moisture conditions were at 90% in Illinois and 95% in Iowa, compared with the prior year’s adequate-to-surplus topsoil moisture rating of 27% (all adequate) in Illinois and 40% in Iowa. The USDA rated contiguous states’ topsoil moisture condition at 81% adequate-to-surplus, down slightly from 83% the week prior but above 53% during the same week in 2023.