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Rapid planting: Almost caught up

Rapid planting progress of corn, soybeans, and HRS wheat occurred last week as we had a wide-open window of planting opportunity for most of the Corn Belt and northern Plains last week. A record-tying 43% of the nation's corn crop was planted last week, and as Pro Ag predicted, corn planting exceeded 70% at 71% complete, now only 8% behind the normal for this time of year. This is a tremendous recovery from the horrendous start to corn planting, and gets us back on track to have corn planting completed in a timely manner.  

States that are ahead of normal progress include Michigan (78% complete vs. 71% normally), Ohio (74% complete vs. 58% normally), Pennsylvania (70% complete vs. 60% normally), and South Dakota (75% complete vs. 69% normally).  Last week Iowa planted a whopping 56% of its crop. However, states more than 10% behind normal include Iowa (21% behind normal), Colorado (23% behind normal), Kansas (18% behind), Kentucky (19% behind), Minnesota (14% behind), and Wisconsin (25% behind).  

With much of the southern two-thirds of the country forecast to get normal to below-normal precip the coming two weeks along with warming temps, it's likely that corn and soybean planting will be completed for many Southern states in May. That includes almost all of the primary Corn Belt states including Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania along with the Delta. States that will continue to struggle include Northern states where above-normal rainfall will accompany above normal temps. North Dakota and Minnesota especially may stuggle, especially those areas that received over 3 inches of rain the past five days, including about 50% of Minnesota and North Dakota; this will keep planters out of fields for at least the next week. Other states that may stuggle include Wisconsin, which is also well behind normal planting pace and is part of that wet forecast. Michigan and South Dakota, however, are ahead of normal planting pace, so these wet states may be OK.  

Soybean planting also is marching forward, with 24% of the nation's soybeans planted vs. 42% normally, but we are catching up to normal. Once producers finish corn planting, more attention will be paid to soybeans, and that will allow soybean planting to advance rapidly over the coming week, especially in the southern two-thirds of the U.S., where relatively dry weather along with warming temps is forecast. States ahead of normal soybean planting include Michigan, Ohio, and South Dakota, while most other states still lag behind the normal pace as they are focusing on planting corn until completed.  

HRS wheat is 67% planted, now only 9% behind normal. A great week of planting occurred in North Dakota last week, advancing 24% to 50% complete. This is the state still lagging the most in planting progress. With wet weather over the weekend, those areas that received over 3 inches of rain will struggle the coming week to get anything planted. However, Minnesota planted 52% of its HRS wheat crop last week - an astounding pace of planting! Barley is 70% planted vs. 77% normally, with 15% planted last week. As late as it is getting for small grains, there could be some acreage shift to soybeans and sunflowers here as the planting progress continues to lag for these crops. Sugar beet planting surged ahead last week, with 29% planted and now 91% complete, ahead 2% of the normal pace of 89% planted.   

Winter wheat ratings dropped to 31% G/E, down 1% from last week. That pushed the Pro Ag winter wheat yield model down to 44.9 bushels per acre, down .13 bushels per acre from last week. That is friendly winter wheat, especially HRW wheat futures in KC.  

Overall, though, the rapid planting progress last week salvaged yield potential in corn and may have rescued this season from its catastrophic start to planting, where essentially the "Ice Age" spring of cold temps in March and April kept planting to a minimum during this time. This is a bearish development, indeed!

Specs and hedgers can now sell corn, soybeans, and CBOT wheat again, putting on hedges for 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016 crops. Downside price targets remain $4.50 December corn, $10 November soybeans, and $6 Chicago July wheat.  

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