What to Know This Week: Sluggish Corn Planting; Overseas Ag Tumult

  • 01

    Growing nerves about a repeat of last spring's rain-delayed planting season in the Midwest, mounting dryness in the Plains, and continued upheaval in a key ag region overseas continue to be big stories in ag this week. See what else you need to know.

  • 02

    After much of the week opened up a planting window, weather-wise, it's closed again in the Midwest late this week. At the same time, many parts of the parched Plains missed out on rain that the region's wheat crop badly needs.

  • 03

    Despite the planting progress here and there in the last week, overall corn planting remains well behind the average pace at this early juncture, USDA reported this week. Less than half of the 14% of the crop's in the ground, the normal total by this week of the year.

  • 04

    But the market bears may be watching these unfolding circumstances more closely than the market bulls, one analyst said this week. "In 2013, over 40% of the corn crop was planted in one week in early May, and the market bears are hoping that progress can be repeated if we get a planting window opened sometime in May," says Ray Grabanski.

  • 05

    As the week progressed, signals mounted that this spring may be a repeat of last year, at least in some areas. If you think you'll be late in planting corn, there are some changes you might want to consider, like minimizing field traffic and considering pre-plant nutrient applications.

  • 06

    If corn planting is late like last year, some acres simply may not get planted. Will that mean more soybeans? There will already be a likely bump in soybean acres this year, but how many acres are needed to meet the demand growing out there? One economist looks at answers to that question this week.

  • 07

    While cool, wet conditions remain the biggest concern in the Midwest, the drought -- one that's quickly becoming the most severe on record in California -- is now seen causing major municipal and agricultural water shortages this year, officials announced this week. The water allocation cuts are deep as the summer approaches.

  • 08

    Meanwhile half a world away, the ongoing upheaval in Ukraine is starting to cause "a lot of turmoil" in the ag and energy markets in the Black Sea and eastern Europe region and beyond. The implications of what's happening in the region now could be immense for agriculture, officials say.

  • 09

    Ukraine's farmers are far from immune to the pains caused by that nation's unrest. Wheat prices are sky-high there, but because of currency discrepancies, farmers there will likely see little to no benefit of the price boom, sources say.

  • 10

    Ukraine isn't the only place in the world where the ag industry faces some uncertainty; Brazil's farmers are growing more concerned about that nation's soybean crop size, while there are mounting nerves about the acceptance of genetically modified crops in China, a major buyer of U.S. grain. See what else is going on around the world in agriculture.

  • 11

    Meanwhile, closer to home, federal ag officials made a couple of key announcements this week: One is a new investment program for rural businesses from USDA. The Advantage Capital Agribusiness Fund will take $150 million to help small businesses in rural America thrive and grow.

  • 12

    If you're in the central and western Corn Belt, get used to this name: Cultivation Corridor. That's the new moniker rolled out this week by Iowa state and federal officials by which to identify and market part of central Iowa, an ag and biosciences epicenter. It's the state's "Silicon Valley," officials said this week.

Soggy planting delays and new farm policy at home and tumultuous conditions abroad are big stories this week.

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