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Planting remains behind schedule; is a corn rally in store?

Agriculture.com Staff 06/01/2009 @ 2:44pm

A frustratingly slow spring continues for some farmers as they forge ahead with a difficult corn and soybean planting season. Despite early setbacks measured by weeks and inches of rain, most farmers have made what this year qualifies as "good" progress. But, overall corn and soybean planting remains behind the average pace, leading some to ponder whether the grain trade is sitting on a rally in the coming weeks.

Corn and bean planting as well as emergence remain behind schedule, according to Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report. Usually for this week of the year, 97% of the corn crop's in the ground, but 93% was planted as of Sunday. And, 73% of that crop, overall, has emerged compared to 86% a year ago. The soybean crop's seeing similar lags: 66% of the crop's planted and 36% of it has emerged. Almost 80% of the soybeans are usually planted by this time of the year, and just over half of those typically have emerged by the first of June.

But, a lot has to happen for that rally to come together, farmers say, both in the field and elsewhere.

"The only way we can see corn above $5 for a significant amount of time is if the end-user can start making money," says Agriculture Online Marketing Talk member ag678. "Right now, if nothing changes, I think even the ones in the best shape will be out of the money in the next year."

But, even without a surge in end-user demand, other farmers say yield projections for this year's crops will likely sag as spring unfolds into summer as planting delays continue, translating to a bump in prices, some say.

"I went out this afternoon and did some pop counts, and it looks like 100% replant," says Marketing Talk member Jr1066. He's lucky, though: Many farmers in his area of southeastern Illinois hadn't started planting corn yet on Sunday. "If it doesn't rain anymore, maybe Wednesday or Thursday we could get back in the field. No beans planted taht I know of. Looking at June 10 for the cutoff date for corn.

"I've got to get some planted, as I sold some last year when it was above $5," he adds.

While the rush is on in the eastern Corn Belt to get the crops in the ground before time runs out, it's looking better out west. In southwest Iowa, Marketing Talk member and farmer 4wd says his crops have "never looked better," and it's shaking his belief that a rally is in the cards in the corn trade, regardless of how slow planting crawls further east. Now that planting's nearing its end, it's all about the demand, he says.

"Either the demand goes crazy to hold or raise these prices or the bottom will fall out," 4wd says.

And, even that demand stands on shaky ground, says RichILL. He's in the area of Illinois hit hardest by this spring's torrential rain, and now area farmers are going "full bore" with beans after wrapping up corn planting last week. The crops are going in, but as late as it is, it will take "perfect weather" if farmers are to hit or get near trend yields.

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