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Kansas and Nebraska Leap Ahead of Average Corn, Soybean Planting Pace

After a productive week in the fields farmers in Nebraska and Kansas are at or ahead of average planting pace for both corn and soybeans according to the USDA Crop Progress Report released Monday, May 21, 2018.

While dry conditions persist in some areas, many counties have experienced some drought relief since the beginning of the month.


Despite a late start in some areas, corn progress has reached or surpassed the 5-year average pace in Kansas and Nebraska.

Kansas farmers passed the 5-year average planting pace, getting 14% of the state’s crop in the ground over the last week. That puts Kansas at 3% above the average planting pace and 13% ahead of last year at this time.

Corn emergence is also running ahead of schedule in the state of Kansas. The 5-year average for this point in the growing season is 49%, but Kansas corn is ahead this year by 7%, which is 56% emerged.

According to the USDA 2017 Crop Production Summary Kansas farmers planted 5,500,000 acres of corn in 2017.

Farmers in Nebraska caught up to the 5-year average planting pace of 88%, which is 2% ahead of where they were this time last year. That means 16% of the Nebraska corn crop was planted in the last week.

Over the last week 27% of the Nebraska corn crop emerged, pushing the state beyond the 5-year average by 5% to 53%. Last year at this time 49% of the corn crop had emerged.

Last season, according to the USDA 2017 Crop Production Summary 9,550,000 acres of corn was planted in the state of Nebraska.


Similarly, soybean progress has taken off in the last week in both Kansas and Nebraska.

After farmers in Kansas planted 19% of the state soybean crop in the last week, the planted acreage has reached the halfway mark. That is 25% ahead of where they were last year at this time, and 26% ahead of the 5-year average for the state.

Emergence numbers for Kansas soybeans leaped this week as well. The state crop now sits at 21% emerged, which is more than double the 5-year average pace of 8%. At this time last year 12% of the Kansas soybean crop had emerged.

The USDA 2017 Crop Production Summary reports 5,150,000 acres of soybeans were planted in Kansas last year.

Nebraska growers also made significant progress by planting 27% of the soybeans just in the last week. That brings total planted soybean acres to 68% for the season so far, which is well ahead of the 5-year average of 51% for this time of year. At this point last year 50% of the Nebraska soybean crop had been planted.

Soybeans in Nebraska are ahead of typical emergence pace as well. The latest USDA Crop Progress report says a quarter of the state’s soybeans have emerged. That is a 20% gain over last week, and well ahead of the 2017 pace of 12%.

Nebraska farmers had 5,700,000 acres of soybeans last growing season according to the USDA 2017 Crop Production Summary.


As dry conditions have tormented the region for most of the season there has been concern about the winter wheat crop this year.

At this time last year 93% of the winter wheat crop in Kansas had headed. While this week’s report shows nearly a 30% gain over last week’s numbers, heading progress still lags behind the 5-year average of 80% by 9 points.

Only 1% of the winter wheat in Kansas is excellent, and just 14% is in good condition. Most of the state’s wheat, 38%, has been rated fair while 32% is poor, and 15% is in very poor shape.

Heading progress in Nebraska is worse than Kansas. Just 4% of the crop has headed so far this year, up from 1% last week. At this time last year 57% of the wheat crop had headed, well above the 5-year average of 29% for this point in the season.

However, condition ratings are better in Nebraska than Kansas. At 11%, Nebraska has more excellent winter wheat than average this week which was reported to be 7%. The majority of the Nebraska winter wheat crop has been rated good at 51%. For the rest of the crop 31% has been rated fair, 6% is in poor shape, and 1% is very poor.


While sorghum is grown in fewer states than corn, soybeans, or wheat, it is an important crop for Kansas and Nebraska.

Farmers in Kansas are still in the early stages of sorghum planting with 8% of the crop in the ground. That is 2% ahead of the 5-year planting pace, and a 5% gain from last week. At this time last year Kansas farmers had planted 4% of the sorghum in the state.

Last year 2,600,000 acres of sorghum were planted in the state of Kansas.

In Nebraska sorghum planting is a little further along. So far, 31% of the state’s crop has been planted, which is 4% ahead of the 5-year average pace of 27%. This time last year 17% of the crop had been planted.

Nebraska farmers planted 180,000 acres of sorghum in 2017.

USDA is not reporting sorghum emergence yet.


Pasture conditions in Kansas and Nebraska have suffered from dryness at points this year. Less than 10% of the acres are rated excellent in both states.

In general, Kansas is worse off. Just 2% of the pasture and range land is in excellent shape. Also 23% is rated good. Most of the pasture in Kansas has been rated fair this week at 44%, followed by 22% poor, and 9% very poor.

Less than a tenth of Nebraska pasture and range land is in excellent condition. Most Nebraska pasture has been rated good at 46%. That is followed by 31% fair, 11% poor, and 3% very poor.


Last year Kansas farmers planted 65,500 acres of sunflowers.

The sunflower planting season is off to a good start in the state with 7% of the crop in the ground. That is 5% ahead of the 5-year average planting pace for sunflowers in Kansas.


The USDA reports oat progress in 9 states each week.

Oat planting is mostly complete in Nebraska, but behind the 5-year planting pace of 98% for this time of year by 3%.

While 15% of emergence progress occurred over the last week, oat emergence is also behind average. Last year at this time 96% of the Nebraska oat crop had emerged. This year progress lags that pace by 10%.

Just 1% of the oats in Nebraska have headed compared to 5% at this time last year, and a 5-year average of 3%.

Only 4% of the Nebraska oat crop is in excellent shape. At 72%, the majority is good followed by 20% in fair shape, 3% in poor condition, and just 1% rated very poor.

Recent Weather and Climate Conditions

In the last week farmers had 5.1 days suitable for field work in Kansas. While that is less than last week, it is still an improvement over this week last year, when farmers could only work in the field 2.9 days out of the week.

Conditions were similar in Nebraska. Farmers had about 4.3 days to make progress in the field this last week, which was down a little compared to 5.1 days out of the week before. This week last year farmers were only able to be in the field 2.1 days out of the week.

Compared to the May 1 drought report conditions in both states have improved although some regions continue to suffer from extreme and exceptional drought, especially in southwest Kansas.

USDA, Eric Luebehusen

Just 2% of Kansas reported a surplus of topsoil moisture, and only 1% had a surplus of subsoil moisture. The latest crop progress report shows 47% of the state has adequate top soil moisture. The same report showed 41% of Kansas had adequate subsoil moisture. Also, 30% of Kansas is short on topsoil moisture while 37% is short on subsoil moisture. More than a fifth of Kansas is very short on topsoil moisture. The same number, 21%, is very short on subsoil moisture.

Nebraska is better off than Kansas with 11% of the state experiencing a surplus in topsoil moisture, and 2% having a surplus in subsoil moisture. A majority, or 72%, of the state has adequate topsoil moisture, while the same amount has adequate subsoil moisture. Topsoil in 15% of the state is short on moisture, and 22% of subsoil is short. Topsoil in 2% of Nebraska is very short, and 4% of subsoil is very short on moisture.

Weather Outlook

“A few showers should cross the southwestern Plains this week as well but are not expected to be heavy enough to end moisture shortages in southwestern Kansas,” says meteorologist Don Keeney of Radiant Solutions in a report on Monday.

Blake Johnson farms corn and soybeans in Holdrege, Nebraska in the southcentral part of the state. In an interview last Friday afternoon he said his area has been very dry most of the spring, and rain late last week was “very welcome” although it would delay the end of planting season to the beginning of this week.

“We just need one more day to finish putting into soybeans on the ground and we'll be done,” he estimated.

Warm soil temperatures in Johnson’s area have encouraged rapid emergence.

Nebraska Mesonet

“All of our corn is out of the ground, and our early planted soybeans are also out of the ground,” he said.

That trend of warm soil temperatures is expected to continue through the week as air temperatures are forecasted to be in the upper 80’s. The quick rise in temperatures has helped Johnson keep his planting plans on track despite starting the planting season more than 15 days later than he’d hoped.

“We usually like to start planting corn the 10th of April here and it was still very cold. We didn't even have our pre-emerge herbicide on by the 10th of April because of the cold temperatures. Then once it started to warm up, it warmed up very rapidly.”

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