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Light at the end of the spring planting tunnel

Agriculture.com Staff 05/23/2008 @ 1:31pm

The spring planting chapter in the story of the 2008 corn and soybean crops may be ending in the next week. But, reaching that end may be a challenge, depending on your planting and fieldwork progress.

The Memorial Day holiday weekend will likely be a cool, damp one for many parts of corn and soybean country.

"Clearly a lack of soil moisture will not be a problem for the Corn Belt for the opening weeks of the meteorological summer (which begins on June 1)," according to Charlie Notis of Freese-Notis Weather, Inc. "Delays getting remaining corn and soybean acres planted clearly is going to be the bigger problem."

This weather outlook is a double-edged sword, depending on where you are with planting and fieldwork. If you've still got planting to do, expected rains may keep you out of the field, halting crop progress that way.

But, if your crops are already in the ground, the rain may be a blessing in how it could break up crusty soils that may be making seed emergence a tough task.

"We could use a nice rain to soften the crust on many fields where crops have not yet emerged," says Iowa State University Extension field agronomist Virgil Schmitt of Muscatine, Iowa. "Hopefully the areas where crusting is most severe will soon receive rain to alleviate the crusting problems."

Despite the soggy near-term forecast, it's expected to dry up beyond Memorial Day, with normal to above-normal temperatures to enter the outlook starting in early June, according to Freese-Notis. This is cause for optimism for planting's conclusion soon.

"U.S. corn planting as of Sunday, May 18 was 73% completed compared to a normal 88%. The week before planting was 20% behind normal so, good progress was made last week," says AccuWeather.com ag weather specialist Dale Mohler.

Mohler adds he sees soybean planting, in general, between four and six days behind normal pace, with corn planting postponed by up to two weeks in some area, but the gap could narrow in the next few days.

"This week will be even better with most estimates believing the corn crop close to 90% planted by this weekend," he says.

Now that there's light at the end of the spring planting tunnel, farmers are taking stock of what damage their young corn and soybean crops have incurred.

"Twenty-six percent [corn emergence according to Monday's USDA Crop Progress report] is going to haunt us later," writes Agriculture Online Marketing Talk member 4speed. He adds he's seen estimates of seven percent yield loss because of poor early-season germination and emergence conditions. Another farmer adds he thinks his yields have already taken a 10% hit.

"It's easily the farthest-behind emergence number in the last 10 years," writes Marketing Talk member farmpro10. "I am boldly stating my yield estimate as of today at 140 [bushels per acre]."

Still, others say they've got reason to hold out hope for trendline yields. Marketing Talk member and farmer ontheridge says summer conditions could support a big bounceback in his area of south-central Nebraska.

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