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Drought fears heat up as planting wraps

Jeff Caldwell 05/21/2012 @ 3:23pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Almost all the nation's corn is planted and just over 3/4 of the soybeans are in the ground, according to Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report.

Monday's report also is the first of the season to show corn conditions. Seventy-seven percent of the crop's rated good-to-excellent, with states like Illinois leading the way, quality-wise, with 79% of the crop rated in the 2 top quality categories. At the lower end of the range is Missouri and Tennessee, both of whose crops are rated at 67% good-to-excellent.

The planting progress figures tell a story of a spring that allowed a lot of quick progress, as both corn and soybean planting numbers are well ahead of the normal pace for this week. And while many farmers have welcomed the trend, there's another trend unfolding around the nation that could spell trouble, especially for the crops that were planted earlier than normal. A growing "heat dome" is expected to spread around the mid-South and Corn Belt in the next week, with it reappearing again during the first 10 days of next month. And, that heat will only add existing crop stress.

"In 2004, our first-planted corn was shoulder-high by the 10th of June," says Agriculture.com Marketing Talk senior contributor highyields. "Now our first-planted this year is going to have to pick it up a lot in order to get that big and we had it planted the 11th of April 2012 versus April 17, 2004."

But, it hasn't just been dryness that's hurt corn yield potential. It's a combination of factors that includes the early planting and warmer-than-normal temperatures in March followed by cooler weather in April, adds Marketing Talk frequent contributor Buckley_HF.

"Not only was there replant, but I just don't believe we had the GDUs necessary in April to get this crop moving along quick enough to harvest it early enough to cover end-of-summer needs," he says. "I had an agronomist tell me the average soil temperature in the area was 5 degrees warmer on March 28 than April 28. Shows how cool April was."


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