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USDA: Corn planting varies widely across Midwest

Agriculture.com Staff 05/11/2009 @ 2:35pm

Another week of widely variable planting progress has passed, with farmers in some states making strides toward completion while others watch the calendar blow by without turning a wheel in fields that remain too wet to get planted.

That's the verdict in Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report. Though some planting progress was made in every state in the last 7 days, that's not to say farmers in large portions of the Midwest aren't still well off the normal pace, some to the tune of 40-50% behind normal for this time of year.

In Illinois, this week's report reveals only 10% of the corn crop planted. While that's double last week's progress, it remains 45% lower than last year's plantings by this week and almost 75% behind the previous five-year average. The same is virtually true for Indiana farmers: In that state, 11% of the crop is in the ground versus 57% at this time last year and the previous average of 70%. Farmers in North Dakota, according to USDA, just got started planting corn this last week and have gotten 7% of the crop in the ground, when around half of the corn is usually planted by this time of the year. Michigan's crop is 18% planted compared to 66% at this time last year.

On the flip side, farmers in Iowa and Minnesota have bucked the trend of lower progress this spring, according to USDA. As of Sunday, 81% of both states' corn is in the ground. At this time last year, 29% of the Minnesota crop was planted and 42% of the Iowa corn was in the ground.

But, in those areas where progress is well behind pace, it's starting to look more and more dire as each day passes with more moisture in the forecast, say Agriculture Online Marketing Talk members. That's true for Pat in CMO, whose state of Missouri has 21% of the corn crop in the ground, up from last year but well off the 57% previous five-year average for this week.

"Needed at least one more dry day to be able to run again. Got 1.5 inches of rain instead," he writes. "Got 2/3 of corn planted two weeks ago. It's coming up real spotty, doesn't look good."

The story's similar parts of east-central Kansas as well as west-central Illinois, says Marketing Talk member wcil. In Illinois, it's almost a rerun of 2008, and that's a show he doesn't want to see again.

"Nothing to do again today except watch it rain. Last year, corn planted in late May was at least 40 bushels light on yield. Beans were replanted 3 or 4 times ( I lost track by July) and only yielded in the low 20s," wcil says. "Not much to get excited about around here."

Looking ahead, forecasters see more rain in the outlook for much of the Corn Belt through this week. The pattern of moisture will likely end as next week begins, according to Freese-Notis Weather, Inc. Cooler temperatures after the rains stop may mean a longer drying period before planting can begin in some areas late next week.

"The timeframe from tomorrow through late on Saturday should feature rainfall totals largely on the order of one to two inches for especially areas east of Interstate 35 in the Corn Belt, and as is typically the case we will see locally even heavier totals," according to Freese-Notis on Monday (Read More). "Beyond that we have some good news, as there are some strong signs that rainfall next week for the Midwest will be quite limited. It may still not be that warm though in that time frame; Sunday and Monday mornings of next week may again be quite chilly for especially northeastern parts of the region.

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