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Corn planting just ahead '08 pace, USDA says

Agriculture.com Staff 04/20/2009 @ 2:33pm

In its weekly Crop Progress report, USDA-NASS indicated 5% of the nation's corn crop is in the ground compared to 4% at this time last year. This year's number is almost 10% behind the previous five-year average.

But, '09 planting thus far isn't a carbon-copy of last year; Monday's report shows better progress in some states and a slower pace in others. In Iowa, for example, 6% of the crop was in the ground as of Sunday versus last year at this time, when planting had yet to begin there. On the other hand, planting is behind last year's pace in states like Kentucky and Tennessee.

Though progress is relatively slow in general, it's expected to pick up in the eastern Corn Belt, where planters have yet to turn a wheel so far.

"Ten days left in April and nary any field work has been done in this area. Every time it gets close to being dry enough, then another front comes through and more rain," says Dan Towery, Crop Tech Tour correspondent and Certified Crop Adviser with Ag Conservation Solutions LLC in Lafayette, Indiana. "Total rainfall so far in April has been about 4.5 inches. It has rained 10 out of the 20 days so far this month. However, once we endure another 2 days of cold and drizzle, then sunny and warm weather with highs near 80 degrees will be in the offing."

For other crops, Monday's USDA report indicates cotton and rice planting is behind the average pace, while sorghum planting is on pace with the previous five-year average. Winter wheat conditions are rated similar to one week ago. Monday's numbers don't include them, though next week's report is scheduled to provide early soybean planting progress numbers.

Farmers say planting progress in the Corn Belt is variable at best (READ MORE). On Monday afternoon, USDA officials verified that bumpy progress.

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