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Corn Planting, Emergence Slows -- USDA

A week ago, farmers had just wrapped up a week of immense corn-planting progress. That's not necessarily the case seven days later.

Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report shows 73% of the nation's corn is in the ground. While that's only 3% behind the previous average pace for this week, it's a mere 14% advance from last Monday, less than half of the previous week's tally. A week ago, farmers had planted 30% of the crop in the previous seven days alone.

Weather is largely to blame; below-normal temperatures and frequent rainfall in the Corn Belt last week kept planters parked in many points around the Midwest, and Monday's data reflect the delays. While Iowa farmers, for example, planted 14% of their crop in the last week, only 6% of the Illinois crop was planted during the same period.

"This was close to the prereport trade estimates of 70% to 75% and down from the five-year average of 76%," says Kluis Commodities broker and market analyst Al Kluis.

Corn emergence was seemingly just as hampered by the cool, wet conditions in the last week, with just 34% of the crop now out of the ground. That's up from last week's 18%, but 8% off the normal pace. Most states in the nation's center range from about 30% to 50% emerged, with Illinois' crop in the lead at 60% emerged, a 24% increase over last week.

Soybean planting tracked corn's progress in the last week, with farmers overall getting 13% of the crop in the ground. Monday's 33% progress is just 5% behind the normal pace. Progress in the Midwest ranges from 15% in Michigan to 36% in Illinois. Thus far, just 9% of the soybean crop has emerged, 2% off the previous average pace.

Farmers say the last week's cool temperatures -- some low enough to inflict frost damage to young, newly planted corn and soybeans -- definitely hampered crop development. And, some of those setbacks will have long-lasting effects.

"As far as corn goes here, most looks good for the condition it's in. We will lose some to wet spots over east-central Indiana. Here, we had anywhere from 5 to 8 inches of rain last week," says Marketing Talk veteran adviser ECIN. "But beans are another story. The beans we put in on May 5 and 6 got hammered by frost on Sunday morning when it got down to 36 degrees. It caught them in the crooked neck stage. The ones that are still under ground are OK, and the ones that are at VE stage appear to have made it."

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