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Mother Nature keeps her chokehold on spring planting

Agriculture.com Staff 04/28/2008 @ 2:41pm

Half of the corn that was planted last year at this time is in the ground. Less than a third of what's usually in the ground has been planted.

The delays in some big-time corn-producing states are huge in Monday's planting numbers. Missouri farmers are usually two-thirds of the way through their planting by this week. But, as of Sunday, farmers there have eight percent of the crop in the ground. Planting progress is also around one-third or less of the average pace in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

"Eight to nine inches [of snow] 135 miles west of Sioux City on [Highway] 12," writes one Agriculture Online Marketing Talk member and Nebraska farmer. "Heaviest snowfall I've seen in a while...a couple of inches an hour. Maybe we will finally get some good weather after this. This snow deal is getting old."

Winter's clinging to life further south, too. Certified Crop Adviser Ernie Flint says a frost in his Kosciusko, Mississippi, area has farmers in the field evaluating damage to their newly planted corn and already beginning to replant where field conditions permit.

"The results of this complex situation has been very difficult to deal with since, in most cases, large portions of fields survived reasonably well while in other portions, stands dropped to population levels below 10,000 plants per acre," Flint says. "No farmer likes to begin a crop with too few plants to produce the yield his soil can potentially produce. Going forward with a poor stand is like running a race after being told to give everyone else a ten second advantage. You may feel that you can finish; but you also know you are probably going to lose."

The weather of late has cleared out a lot of room for the corn market to move up, traders and market-watchers say. With another round of moisture expected for a large part of the Corn Belt later this week, the bulls ought to stay in charge in the corn trade, according to Matt Pierce of Futures International, LLC.

"Over the weekend, it rained from northern Arkansas to the Dakotas. It hit everything," Pierce says. Waterloo, Iowa, has reported 10 inches of rain in the last seven days, eliminating all plantings there. You have another storm hitting right now in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio for the next 48 hours. These are the states where we need to make planting progress, and we're just not going to see it.

Pierce adds, "Couple all of that with early frost possibilities hitting as far south as Texas and you have a perfect storm for a big upside boost in the corn market."

If you're looking for a glimpse at the market direction moving forward beyond this week, keep your eye on the weather, adds Grainanalyst.com floor trader and analyst Vic Lespinasse.

"Overall, the market views the weather currently as bullish and is building a weather premium into prices so keep an eye on the latest weather updates for market direction," he says.

So, what's that forecast got in store? Some parts of the nation's midsection will see "nice warming" later this week only before another shot of cooler air and more chances of precipitation over the weekend and into next week, according to Monday's Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., Weather Market Commentary.

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