My farm got dumped on again Wednesday night. My gauge, here at the farm, showed only seven tenths of an inch. Some of my neighbors must have gotten a lot more than that. I left town for home around 9 P.M. in a downpour. By the time I got to my driveway, the rain was light but steady. It was exactly the opposite of what we need for the second week of May. A few days of warm dry weather would have been better.
The planting progress that started out so good is gradually beginning to appear like it might end up being later than normal. I started planting corn on April 19 and finished on April 29. That is about my normal planting rate. The corn that my neighbors planted the first two weeks of April is far ahead of mine. The earliest of my planting has mostly emerged. What was planted April 28 and 29 was just beginning to spike on Thursday.
I tried to start planting beans on May 5 but my old planter had other ideas. I did finally get four acres planted that day. It was just enough to determine that the problems I had when I first tried to start were finally solved. It was amazing how many things went wrong with the 17 year old planter that was in good shape when planting corn just a few days before.
That cold weather has kept the soybeans from emerging, which is probably a good thing. I hope the top-off-the-line seed treatment that I am using, for the first time this year, will compensate some of the slowness caused by the cold weather. My custom sprayer does not have the burn down herbicide on yet, so slow emergence may be a blessing this time around. With the choice of herbicides now available, the window for effective spraying done is much wider than it was when I first started doing no-till in 1993.
Usually about this time of year, when there is excess rain, the trade starts getting excited about planting delays causing yields reduction. Seldom does that concern turn into a bull market or even last very long into the growing season. Whenever planting delays become a market factor I think back to 1982, absolutely the worst year for planting corn and soybeans in my career. I began planting that year on June 1. I finished up on the river bottom on June 7. I planted the whole corn crop in a week! On that river-bottom farm the soybeans yielded 45 bushels per acre. That corn made the same 45 bushels per acre with a test weight of 45 bounds per bushel.
Delayed planting seldom has much of a positive effect on grain markets. That is even truer now than in the past because of the high capacity machinery currently in use. In 1982 the grain markets were in a steady down trend from late spring all the way through harvest. Farmers wanting to take advantage of a rally caused by delayed planting need to be quick on the trigger. There is always the possibility that this year could be different. There is also the possibility that rainy weather and cool temperatures could turn into drought as happened in 1974. A better bet is that forward pricing in May and early June will look good when the combines roll next fall.