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Corn Planting Wraps, Conditions Drift Slightly Lower -- USDA

There's a chart noticeably absent from Monday's USDA-NASS weekly Crop Progress report: corn planting.

It's a sign that planting is in the books for this year as attention for that crop turns to emergence, which has now surged beyond the normal pace. As of Sunday, 92% of the crop is up, a 12% gain in the last week. And, though this number's down a percentage point from a week ago, 75% of that crop is in good or excellent shape as the midpoint of June nears. That's less than what the trade expected, which could fuel a slight upswing in prices between now and Tuesday's opening bell, traders say.

Now, with corn planting wrapped up, attention for farmers turns to soybeans, 87% of which are planted as of Sunday, 6% ahead of the normal pace. That's a 9% advancement from last week and almost 20% ahead of progress a year ago. Plus, 71% of that crop has emerged, according to Monday's report.

Winter wheat conditions were unchanged from last week, with 30% of that crop in good or excellent shape and 44% in very poor or poor condition. Wheat harvest has gotten underway in the eastern U.S. and southern Plains, with 30% of Texas' crop and 26% of Oklahoma's out of the field. The latter state's farmers are 11% behind average, while Texas is just 2% behind the normal pace. At this time last year, Oklahoma farmers had just 7% of that state's crop out of the field.

Those wheat harvest numbers are likely to fall a little behind in the next week after rainfall of up to 2 inches fell in parts of Texas and Oklahoma during a weekend that saw serious rainfall totals from the central Plains to the mid-South. As if the rain-starved wheat crop's poor condition isn't painful enough, now it's an excess of what was lacking during the growing season that's impeding harvest.

"My chunk in Lane County, Kansas, is closing in on 3 inches for June. The milo is planted. Here in central Iowa, 2.38 inches for June, .54 Saturday, and the low- and high-land corn looks the same. Very good," says Marketing Talk senior contributor Wind.

Adds Marketing Talk veteran adviser Mizzou_Tiger: "I think we are pushing 8 to 9 inches for the month of June. Need some 88-degree weather and sun for a few weeks. Things are waterlogged."

In terms of market implications, Monday's report shouldn't be too big of a shocker. The corn ratings -- with 75% of the crop in good or excellent shape -- are slightly lower than the trade expected, a fundamentally bullish factor. But, in areas where the crop was expected to have trouble making it up and getting started because of cool, wet conditions, it's doing better. So, the net takeaway, says Al Kluis of Kluis Commodities?

"This was a little below what the trade had expected," he says of the corn condition number. "Soybean planting came in at 87%. The surprise is that the late-planted corn crop up north looks so good. In Minnesota, 80% is rated good to excellent, Wisconsin is at 81%, and in North Dakota it is 89% good to excellent."

In the meantime, Kluis says wheat will likely see no change in prices as a result of Monday's report, while soybean futures could drift slightly lower in overnight trading preceding Tuesday's opening.

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