Supposing you hadn’t followed the drought-decimated corn crop so far this year, or watched corn futures break beyond $8 for the new crop. All you had to do was look at a single crop progress report this summer to get a notion of the challenging conditions.

According to the Aug. 20 Crop Progress report from USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), at least 50% of pastures were rated as Poor or Very Poor in 21 states. Analysts at the Livestock Marketing Information Center point out that USDA-NASS defines pasture and range conditions of Poor and Very Poor as needing some level of supplemental feeding to sustain livestock.

For the week ending Aug. 19, 51% of the corn crop was rated as Poor or Very Poor, compared to 17% a year earlier. Only 23% was rated in Good or Excellent condition, compared to 57% a year earlier.

The World Agriculture Supply Demand Estimates (WASDE) went from predicting record corn production of 14.8 billion bu. – 2.4 billion bu. more than the previous year – in May, to August estimates of 10.8 billion bu., or 2.2 billion bu. lower than the previous month’s estimate. Estimated yield of 123.4 bu./acre would be the least since 1995-96. Corn production would be the lightest in nine years.

WADSE corn price estimates went from $4.20-$5.00/bu. in May to a season average estimate of $7.50-$8.90/bu. in August.

At this stage, it appears that most hopes rest upon fall moisture for cool-season grasses and cereal crops, as well as what appears to be abundant corn silage (see "Use Caution Feeding New Silage").

For the week ending Aug. 19, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service:

Corn – 89% is in the dough stage, 22% more than last year and 23% more than the five-year average. 60% is in the dent stage, 32% more than last year and 31% more than the five-year average. 17% is mature, 13% more than last year and the five-year average. 4% is harvested, 3% more than last year and the five-year average. 51% is in Poor or Very Poor condition, compared to 17% a year ago. 23% is in Good or Excellent condition, compared to57% last year.

Soybeans – 91% are setting pods, 12% more than last year and 8% ahead of the average. 4% are dropping leaves, 3% more than last year and the average. 31% is in Good or Excellent condition, compared to 59% a year ago. 38% is rated as Poor or Very Poor, compared to 14% last year.

Sorghum – 75% is headed, 1% more than last year but 5% behind the average. 41% is coloring, 8% more than last year and 5% more than the five-year average. 26% is mature, 4% more than last year and 5% more than average. 23% is in Good or Excellent condition, compared to 27% last year. 51% is in Poor or Very Poor condition, compared to 41% last year.

Winter wheat – 97% is harvested, 5% more than last year and 2% more than the average.

Spring wheat – 79% is harvested, which is 54% ahead of last year and 39% more than the five-year average.

Oats – 98% is harvested, which is 22% ahead of last year and 18% ahead of the average pace.

Barley – 66% is harvested, which is 47% more than last year and 28% ahead of normal. 60% is in Good or Excellent condition, compared to 66% last year. 13% is in Poor or Very Poor condition, 6% more than last year.

Pasture – 17% of the nation’s pasture and range is rated as Good or Excellent, 20% less than at the same time last year. 59% is rated Poor or Very Poor, 20% more than a year ago. States reporting more than 50% of pasture as Poor or Very Poor were: Arizona (54%); Arkansas (85%); California (85%); Colorado (81%); Illinois (89%); Indiana (78%); Iowa (84%); Kansas (92%); Missouri (99%); Montana (65%); Nebraska (93%); Nevada (83%); New Mexico (84%); North Dakota (41%); Ohio (67%); Oklahoma (77%); South Dakota (75%); Texas (54%); Utah (54%); Wisconsin (54%); and Wyoming (82%).