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Shoot for May? Corn planting creeps along

Jeff Caldwell 04/22/2013 @ 3:19pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

The good news: Over the last week, U.S. farmers have doubled the amount of this year's corn crop they've planted. The bad news: It's only gone from 2% a week ago to 4% Monday, according to the latest USDA Crop Progress report.

That pace puts this year's crop 12% behind the normal progress level. And while it's been a painstakingly slow start to the season's progress, it's still very early, some farmers say.

"It's still too early to worry about losses from not planting. This isn't an 'average year,' but what year is? Too early for the market to react; let's get into May and see how progress is going before we write this crop off," says Agriculture.com Marketing Talk veteran contributor farsider. "Look at 2011 and the progress that year and see how the market reacted to delays; 2012 planting progress has colored our memories to what feels normal."

Next week at this time -- provided little or any planting progress in key areas -- could be the tipping point, adds Marketing Talk veteran contributor Buckley_HF.

"I'm not sure where ANY significant corn acres were planted this past week. We may have actually lost some acres with cold weather and flooding. But you make a good point. Trade does not seem to care. Don't see much planted this week," he says. "Maybe next Monday's report will get their attention as we creep toward May. Here in east-central Illinois, if we miss the rain expected tomorrow, I still think we are at May 1 before starting."

Another major number of note in Monday's report is winter wheat conditions. As of Sunday, 35% of that crop is in good to excellent shape, with 32% in fair and 33% in poor to very poor. That's just a couple of percentage points lower than last week's USDA guess of wheat conditions, but it comes on the eve of what could amount to a death blow for some of the Plains crop. The National Weather Service issued a hard-freeze warning Monday morning for much of western Kansas, where temperatures could fall to the lower 20s and windchill readings could dip to 6 degrees.

"Not much we can do except sit back and wait, then survey the damage in a few days," says Marketing Talk adviser Shaggy98.

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