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Corn Belt 'exodus' seen in report

Looking at today's planted acreage report, North Dakota State University economist Frayne Olson finds a shift out of the normally good growing areas of the Corn Belt.

"As you dig into the numbers a little bit, we had a big shift from the north to the south," Olson told Agriculture.com.

Olson compared the state-by-state acreage in the USDA's March planting intentions report with today's June 1 planted acres and found, as expected, a decrease in corn acres in Iowa, Minnesota, and his own state of North Dakota. Iowa's corn acres were down by 200,000; Minnesota's by 300,000; and North Dakota by 200,000.

Even that may seem small to anyone in those areas.

Olson expected a bigger drop in North Dakota.

"I'm a little bit surprised by the North Dakota numbers," he said. "Up here, we have had delayed planting. If it did [get planted], a lot of those acres are going to be planted very late, so when you look at yield potential and implications for an early frost, that's something the trade is going to have to consider."

Part of the USDA increase in corn acres came from the South, as well as Nebraska, where improving weather conditions may have contributed to a 300,000-acre increase in plantings compared to intentions. The other big increases were in Texas, up by 300,000 acres from March intentions; Louisiana, up by 150,000 acres; and a northern state, Michigan, with another 200,000 acres.

Soybeans saw a big shift to the South as well, with a 400,000 increase in bean acres reported for Missouri compared to intentions.

The bottom line: much of the nation's crop production will come from areas with higher weather risk.

"It's good to look at the aggregate number, but everybody takes the aggregate number times trend yield," Olson said. "In soybeans, we're going to have to watch the southern growing region more than we have in the past."

There are several risks for corn. Heat stress during pollination could be a bigger factor in the South. And in states like North Dakota and Michigan, frost poses a risk of light test weights. In North Dakota, the average date for a 28-degree killing frost is around the end of September in the state's southeastern counties, where much of the corn is grown.

"From here on forward, in my view, this is the kickoff to the weather market," Olson said.

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