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Farmers Face Fading Ideal Planting Dates

With the optimal time to plant soybeans either gone or passing soon, many U.S. farmers are rapidly trying to finish corn planting to shift to soybeans. 

The race is on to get the crop in before the tail end of the "ideal" dates goes by in May.

Discuss soybean planting in Marketing Talk. 

So why the wait, when a lot of university research indicates that farmers can gain higher yields by planting early. In recent years, the higher corn market has attracted more acres of that grain compared to soybeans. Plus, farmers justify planting soybeans after corn because delayed planting often reduces yield proportionally more for corn than soybeans.

This year, cold and wet weather has farmers playing catch-up on the corn planting season. As of Monday's USDA Crop, many key corn-producing states were over 70% completed. It's believed many farmers are finishing on corn this week and are on to soybeans.

For soybeans, the completion rates on planting vary from 20% in Iowa to 36% in Nebraska. Indiana and Illinois farmers were 23% and 26% finished, respectively, with soybean planting, as of Monday's USDA Crop Progress Report.

So, what are the key dates for optimal soybean planting throughout the Midwest? The chart below shows that April 1-25 catches most key soybean-producing states. But it's the next planting time frame, May 15-30, that farmers are trying to seed within. That may be problematic for eastern Corn Belt farmers, according to Donald Keeney, senior ag meteorologist, MDA Weather Services.


Farmers are turning their attention to the recommended planting dates at the end of the optimum scale (May 20-30), so the 10-day weather outlook is of high interest.

Keeney says there will be lingering light showers across the central Midwest over the next two days, which will slow planting in Indiana and northern Illinois. "However, planting should progress well in Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and the eastern Dakotas," Keeney says. 

Drier weather, this weekend, will favor planting in all of the Midwest and northeast Plains, he says.

"There will be some showers moving across the region early to mid- next week, which will slow planting again. However, amounts will not be all that heavy. So significant delays are not expected."

Also, drier weather should return later next week, and any remaining planting will increase again then, Keeney says. 


The map shows the precipitation % normal over the next 10 days, showing the generally below normal rains in the area.

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