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Planting weather roller coaster screams on

Jeff Caldwell 04/29/2013 @ 11:01am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

The weather finally turned seasonably warm and sunny in much of the Midwest over the weekend, allowing some farmers to get into the field. But planting progress is way behind schedule, and there are still pockets where nary a wheel has turned. And Mother Nature's got more tricks up her sleeve.

"Warm spring temperatures are forecast across much of the Corn Belt today and tomorrow giving us an easy feeling. But then, a freaky weather pattern is forecast for the mid- to latter part of the week and this weekend, delivering a one-two punch," says Harvey Freese of Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., in Des Moines, Iowa. "First, a strong cold front will push much cooler weather into the Midwest the next few days. Second, an area of low pressure will develop in the upper atmosphere over the Midwest, capturing this pool of unusually cool air at the surface keeping temperatures chilly especially in the western Corn Belt states for much of the week."

With this shot of cool, wet weather ahead, some farmers are ready to start changing plans for this year's crop.

"This is the first morning I believe we now have a serious issue. If we receive forecast rains, we will be two weeks out, at least, here in east-central Illinois. I hate to break it to the guys in Chicago, but it's essentially May and no one has anything planted, and if they do, good luck getting it up," says Agriculture.com Marketing Talk veteran contributor Buckley_HF. "If I were a trader, I'd be eyeing the updated forecasts really close. Stress levels are rising across the Midwest as we speak."

Adds Marketing Talk frequent contributor Wrestler: "Usually planting delays are fool's gold, but this year feels different. Hard to believe that we went from a drought to this. Old-timers can tell you that we have been through this before. No way in hell that we put any seed in the ground with this forecast."

That was happening as the trading week started out Monday; early trading saw corn futures surge sharply. Though the weather market faded late last week, it is back with a vengeance on news of more likely planting delays.

"Planting and yield concerns, which waned at the end of last week, are now back in play as the corn bears get a little nervous," says Jeff Coleman, Trean Group analyst and floor trader.

Buckley_HF says the delays up to this point have him getting in touch with his seed dealer to find out about the availability of soybean seed, as he's looking to plant more beans in the place of corn whose yields will likely be trimmed by the rain delays to planting, much of which will probably happen outside the optimal time window. If you're weighing a similar change, make sure you're not acting too soon, though, experts say.

"Research in central Illinois finds that, all else equal, average corn yields are not found to be substantially different for planting dates ranging from early April to mid-May. Yields generally decline at an accelerating rate for planting dates after mid-May," says University of Illinois Extension ag economist Darrel Good. "However, since planting dates have generally become earlier over time, yield response to planting date is nonlinear, and planting occurs at different times in different regions, defining late planting over time for the U.S. is not straightforward."

   

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