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Corn Planting Blows By Halfway Point -- USDA

Most trade analysts expected corn planting to have reached just shy of the halfway point by Sunday, but USDA's Crop Progress report released Monday shows that point came and went quickly in the last week, with planting sitting at 55%.

That's almost 20% ahead of the average pace for this week, almost 30% ahead of this point a year ago, and reflects a 36% jump in overall planting progress in the last week. The biggest planting strides came in Iowa (14% complete last week and 68% done today), Michigan (4% last week, 30% this week), Minnesota (38% last week, 83% this week), and Nebraska (16% last week, 57% this week).


Farmers made a lot of progress planting soybeans in the last week, too; 13% of that crop is in the ground, up from 2% last week, and just ahead of the 9% normal pace for this week.

Of the corn in the ground already, 9% of it has emerged, up from 2% a week ago but still behind the normal pace of 12% by this week.

The planting strides look to shorten considerably in the week ahead. As the weather window closes, showers canvas the nation's midsection; rainfall amounts of up to 2.5 inches are expected in parts of the central Plains and Corn Belt through this Friday, and some parts of the latter region could stay damp beyond that time frame, forecasters say. Temperatures are still expected to stay at or above-normal levels, trimming the length of the rain delay this week.

"Showers across the northwestern Midwest yesterday marked the beginning of a shift to a wetter pattern across the central and western Midwest this week. The heaviest rains across the Corn Belt this week should occur across Nebraska, Iowa, and northern Illinois," says MDA Weather Services senior ag meteorologist Kyle Tapley. "Persistent rains in these areas this week should stall planting efforts, but they'll improve soil moisture levels for germination of corn and soybeans. Warm weather this week across the Corn Belt will also favor crop germination."

Some parts of the Corn Belt do remain behind the normal planting pace because of inclement crop weather leading up to early May; Ohio farmers have 15% of that state's crop planted. While that's up from 2% last week, it's exactly half of the normal planting pace, Monday's report shows. If you're in that boat, agronomists are now warning not to push it and plant into soggy soils because of the lingering negative ramifications of doing so.

"Growers should avoid tillage and planting operations when soil is still wet. Even if that leads to late planting and the potential for lower yields, getting into wet fields could lead to soil compaction that can instead reduce yields for several years," says Ohio State University Extension agronomist Peter Thomison. "We've seen years where well over half of the corn statewide was planted in a week. In 2005, many growers were forced to replant after a major freeze event hit the region and damaged a lot plants. But that year, we ended up with corn replanted by May 10. Growers can make remarkable progress in the right planting conditions. It's all going to depend on how much rainfall we receive, and how quickly they can get into the fields."

Soybean prices closed Monday's trade higher, but corn and wheat ended the day in the red, a trend that is supported by Monday's crop progress data because planting progress is "way higher" than previous trade estimates.

"When the markets start trading again...Today's report is negative for prices tonight. I expect corn to start out 1 to 2 cents lower tonight," says Kluis Commodities market analyst and grain broker Al Kluis. "The report is slightly negative for soybeans look for prices to move 2 to 3 cents lower. This report will be negative for wheat prices. I expect wheat prices to be 1 to 2 cents lower tonight with spring wheat getting hit the most."

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