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Playing catch-up: Corn planting drags along

Agriculture.com Staff 05/05/2008 @ 2:34pm

Spring planting is finally picking up. But, it's still well behind the average pace and, if the weather outlook holds true, it could stay that way for the next few days.

As of Sunday, 27% of the nation's corn is in the ground, according to Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report. That's down from 45% a year ago and less than half of the average pace of 59% planted as of this week. Yet, Sunday's total marks a 17% jump in progress over the previous week, the point at which it took three weeks to reach 10% planted.

Soybean planting progress is also behind schedule, though by not as much as corn planting. As of Sunday, five percent of the nation's beans are in the ground, compared to eight percent last year and the previous five-year average of 14%.

Considerable planting progress was made in a few states over the last week, but some of the biggest corn-producing states remain well behind schedule. Four percent of the corn has been planted in Wisconsin compared to the average pace of 59%. Eight percent of Minnesota's corn is in the ground versus 65%, the average pace. Eighteen percent of Iowa's corn is planted compared to the usual 64%.

One Iowa farmer says while progress has been made, a dramatic shift in weather conditions is needed before lost ground can be made up.

"Looks like in my neighborhood, the corn is about 50% planted. I don't have a seed in the ground myself," writes an Iowa Marketing Talk member.

The going may not get a whole lot better in the near term, according to Charlie Notis of Freese-Notis Weather, Inc. This week is a critical one for planting progress and, while some areas may see more corn in the ground in the next seven days, the pace may not pick up enough to make up for lost time.

"Historically, the period from April 27 to May 4 has been the biggest week of the year for corn planting, a time frame when typically one quarter of the crop is planted. I doubt that we did that much this year though, given that we started last week with wet soil in a lot of the region, and a lot of the region saw additional rain last week," Notis says. "By next week's report, the five-year average completion pace for corn planting is up to 77% done, and given the weather for this week I think that it is possible that we will not be half done."

Notis sees more moisture moving into much of the nation's midsection through the middle of this week. This will likely cause further delays in parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

"The 2008 planting season has been a struggle for a lot of areas, and for those same areas I do not think that things will be getting a whole lot better over the next ten days to two weeks," he says.

In other crops, 26% of the nation's winter wheat crop has headed out, according to Monday's USDA report. That's a few points behind last year's 33% progress level and lagging further behind the average pace of 38% by this week. Twenty-six percent of the nation's cotton, 29% of the nation's sorghum and 58% of the nation's spring wheat have been planted, all near the average pace for this week of the spring. Oat plantings are behind slightly: As of Sunday, 68% of the country's oat crop had been planted compared to the previous five-year average of 81%.

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