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Catching up: USDA confirms big planting strides

Agriculture.com Staff 05/26/2009 @ 2:25pm

A week of decent planting weather finally allowed some of the most delayed farmers in the Corn Belt get the majority of their corn acres planted in the last week. But, a lot of soybeans are still in the bag as farmers begin to wonder whether it's reasonable to hope for trend yields for this year's crops.

Tuesday's weekly USDA-NASS Crop Progress report shows 82% of the nation's corn crop is in the ground. That's still just over 10% off the average pace for this time of year, but it shows light years of progress from the previous week's report for place like Illinois. A week ago, only 20% of that state's crop was in the ground, but as of Sunday, 62% has been planted. Farmers in Indiana and Ohio also made big planting strides, while others in Iowa and Nebraska are nearing the corn-planting finish line.

Soybean planting remains well off the average pace, but also saw sharp progress jumps in the last week, according to Tuesday's USDA report. Nationwide, 48% of the crop is in the ground, compared to 49% last year at this time and the previous five-year average of 65%. Farmers from Kansas to Ohio advanced planting progress by double digits to almost double the progress from a week ago.

So, planting is finally catching up. But, is it all for the best? Agriculture Online Marketing Talk member breakout 99 says field conditions were far from perfect, but he was able to make a lot of progress. For him, it's better late than never.

"We went from 30% done as of last Wednesday to 90% Sunday night on corn, with no beans in yet in my part of central Illinois," he says. "It's absolutely some of the worst planting conditions in memory, but it is out there. We planted corn at the end of May last year and it made 200 bushels/acre, so all hope is not lost. I just hope that we get some rain in July."

But, conditions like those in which breakout 99 says he planted don't translate to good chances of meeting trend yield, says Marketing Talk member GB.MN. That makes meeting the yield trendline a heavy lift from here on out, even if conditions are ideal up until harvest.

"My concern would be the conditions the corn was planted in. If things would turn to the drier side, it wouldn't be good," he says. "Either way, trend yields are out of the question, in my opinion."

No so fast, though, says jdog185. With a warmer forecast seen for the next two weeks, yields could easily reach trend or higher. From here on out, he says it's all about the heat.

"I would not throw away trend yields by a long shot. As a matter of fact, I would look at the 14-day forecast and tell you that above-trend is very much still on the table," jdog185 says. "It is far more important that the western Corn Belt get in early than it is the eastern Corn Belt because of late season dryness is a much bigger problem out west than it is in the east."

And, as strange as it may seem to hear it for farmers in the eastern Corn Belt, an altogether different problem is starting to pop up in the western Corn Belt and Plains. Marketing Talk member kyu2852570 says he could sure use some of that eastern moisture on his central Nebraska farm.

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