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Corn Planting Slumps Forward -- USDA

Corn planting remains behind the normal pace, though a weather window may be opening this week to allow farmers to play a little much needed catch-up.

As of Sunday, 6% of the nation's crop was planted vs. the usual 14% for this point in the year, according to Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report. Missouri farmers made the longest strides in the nation's center, going from 9% last week to 26% as of Sunday. Iowa farmers hadn't registered on last week's report and tallied 2% planting progress as of Sunday. Illinois farmers went from 1% to 5% in the same time period, Monday's report shows, while farmers in Ohio have yet to get started, and Indiana farmers have planted just 1% of the crop.

"The most important number in this afternoon’s USDA Crop Progress report: Nationwide, the corn crop is only 6% planted," says Kluis Commodities and market analyst Al Kluis. "However, I look for rapid corn planting progress next week in the central and eastern Corn Belt."

"Corn planting is just starting to get underway and will likely accelerate rapidly if temperatures continue to increase," Iowa ag secretary Bill Northey said on Monday. "Much of the state remains fairly dry and will need more moisture for the growing season."

Rainfall in the Corn Belt is on the verge of becoming a catch-22; the land needs the moisture, but the moisture falling right now isn't the most welcome sight considering the lagging planting progress.

"Would look for the planters to get rolling this next week, as I'm hoping to start Tuesday if weather permits. Have heard some corn being planted to the north of us and heard of a couple guys going to try some today," says Marketing Talk frequent contributor north ia farmer. "Looks like temps are getting more normal for this next week. From what I have been hearing, not as much corn being planted in northern Iowa as more are thinking beans are going to the moon."

Adds Marketing Talk senior contributor Wind: "Here in central Iowa, a few planters were going yesterday, and more will start today. The topsoil conditions are just right: Nice and mellow with good moisture but crumbles nice."

Even though planting progress may not be up to snuff everywhere, it's far from a death sentence yet; planting can advance quickly given a good weather window (like that opening up this week in much of the Corn Belt), and while that should be reason for some continued optimism, it's also reason to expect a downturn in the corn market, says market analyst Ray Grabanski.

"Once again in 2014 we have delayed planting similar to in 2013, as most progress numbers are very similar to the slow start in 2013. It's the delayed planting that is supporting the market, as we are unsure if planting will be done on a timely basis," Grabanski says. "Recall that 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.

"In the U.S., we desperately need an open window of planting to allow for planting progress to catch up to normal. This window of planting opportunity may be in the offing, as the eight- to 14-day forecast is hinting at a potential window in early May. That would be just what the doctor ordered for producers, and we are holding out hope that we can still get this crop planted on time," Grabanski adds.

Winter wheat conditions continue to see a slow ratings erosion, especially in the southern Plains where states ilke Oklahoma now have more than 60% of the crop in very poor or poor condition, according to Monday's USDA data. Overall, 33% of the nation's crop falls in those two categories, up 1% from last week.

"We are at or near the 'too little, too late' time frame," says Marketing Talk veteran adviser Shaggy98, who raises wheat in central Kansas. "Just took a look at the latest radar map for my area. Looks like we've been successful at dodging another rain event. This miss might actually drive the dagger into this wheat crop."


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