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Corn planting nears average pace -- USDA

Jeff Caldwell 05/28/2013 @ 4:08pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Though the last week of corn and soybean planting was punctuated with and ultimately cut short by rain delays, farmers managed to get 15% of this year's corn crop planted, bringing completion for that crop within 4% of the previous average pace at 86%, according to Tuesday's USDA-NASS weekly Crop Progress report.

Soybean planting's further behind at 44% complete compared to the previous average of 61%. Last year at this time, 87% of that crop was in the ground.

Previous trade estimates headed into Tuesday's report were around 50% completion for soybeans and 90% for corn, traders say. But, griculture.com Market Analyst Al Kluis said Tuesday he thought USDA's estimate for Iowa corn planting progress -- at 85% -- was higher even than it should be. Still, with USDA's numbers coming in south of what the trade expected, he says Tuesday he expects the overnight trade to tilt higher based on the fresh data.

"I think the USDA overstated Iowa significantly by going from 71% to 85%. I suspect that does not include all of the re-plant that will have to be done. Nationwide, corn emergence is at 54%, compared to the five year average of 67%. Note that normally, this week, you get the first 'crop condition' numbers in the Monday report. However, there were none. What I have heard from farmers who did get their corn planted, is that it looks yellow and tough," Kluis says. "Today's report is slightly positive for prices. I expect corn to start out 1 to 2 cents higher tonight. Be patient. The extended forecasts are still wet, so it is likely you will get better opportunities within the next few weeks to sell new crop corn, soybeans and wheat."

The weather window, forecasters said Tuesday, looks to be opening up to conditions more conducive to planting in the 11- to 15-day window. But, by then, it will be the second week of June, a tough time to still be planting corn. So, a shortfall -- and corresponding tighter supply chain -- may be inevitable, some say.

"That would mean there are still about 10 million acres of corn to plant. 1.58 billion bushels of corn if you use USDA's 158 bushel/acre yield number," says Agriculture.com Marketing Talk senior contributor roarintiger1. "That's a lot of corn not to have in the supply. 2 billion bushel carryout number? Baloney!"

Adds Marketing Talk advisor BA Deere: "Buyers probably have enough sourced (corn) until September, so they can whistle through the graveyard 'til then. Then there will be a packed theater rushing through a single door at the same time."

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