It's Not Quite 1988 Just Yet

10/07/12 -- Upon reading dozens of stories likening this year's demise of the US corn and soybean crops to 1988, I've spent most of the day trying to find copies of the weekly USDA crop condition data for 1988.

After a fair bit of rummaging about about in the delicate soft underbelly of the internet I've managed to pull it off (oh, er missus) and produce this chart (click to enlarge).

This plots good/excellent ratings for this year, last year, the five year average and 1988. At 40% good/excellent last night things aren't as severe as the just 14% in the top two categories that we were looking at 24 years ago. As it happens, this week in 1988 was the worst that things got, although there probably aren't many out there that would bet on that also being the case this time round.