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Farmers Eye Optimal Corn Planting Dates

The early bird gets the worm. That old adage may be challenged as this year’s U.S. corn planting season approaches its optimal April dates.

In fact, this weekend may mark the time that the annual early-bird corn growers will decide to switch acres to soybeans, due to inclement planting weather.

What’s interesting about this year? Southern farmers who normally get the chance to plant early have been hampered by wet weather. Likewise, the U.S. lower Midwest farmers trying to get into fields ahead of schedule have been set back a bit.

For example, Mizzou_Tiger, an Iowa farmer and member of’s Marketing Talk, shared his planting concerns Wednesday.

“I just had a little hail and a downpour; was hoping to miss it and might be able to run by Saturday. Doubtful now and more rain coming. It appears it’s going to be a battle this spring,” Mizzou_Tiger stated.

However, it looks like the weather will help farmers in the heart of the Corn Belt to get a chance at top yields by planting within their April optimal planting dates.

For instance, to hit top yield potential, corn growers in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana, shoot to plant their spring crop anywhere from mid- to late April. After this point, as the chart below indicates, the chances for top yields drop in early to mid-May.


To be sure, in its weekly Crop Progress report Monday, the USDA released uninspiring corn planting progress numbers.

  • Texas 37% complete vs. 20% last week, 50% last year, and 50% average.
  • Louisiana 67% complete vs. 16% last week, 80% last year, and 93% average.
  • Mississippi 34% complete vs. 4% last week, 39% last year, and 57% average.
  • Alabama 16% complete vs. 0% last week, 26% last year, and 32% average.
  • Georgia 36% complete vs. 0% last week, 55% last year, and 59% average.
  • Arkansas 27% complete vs. 2% last week, 24% last year, and 43% average.

Aside from optimal planting dates, some U.S. farmers will be battling input costs in this low commodity market environment. As a result, reports are all over the board regarding more or less volumes of nitrogen being applied to this year’s corn crop.

On Wednesday, Al Kluis, Kluis Commodities, reported farmer comments highlighting input cutbacks in his daily note to customers.

“The greater threat to corn yield this year will be farmer's pessimism on the ability to grow and market a profitable corn crop. We are considering reducing fertilizer use by 5% (cutting yield goals) and eliminating expensive micronutrients and fungicides. Not sure we will see any return on investment in these add-ons this year,” Erik from Nebraska.

“NH3 rigs are running hard in all quarters along I-80 in east-central Iowa,” stated Jim Meade/Iowa City, an east-central Iowa farmer and Crop Talk member.

Optimal Soybean Planting

Also, April is an important month for soybean planting. The closest to late April and early May that farmers can plant, the higher chance of capturing top yields, according to the chart below.


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