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45031

Planted late? What's it matter?

It's been over 4 decades since as much of the nation's corn and soybean crops have been planted late. And, with the demand situation looking tighter, arguably, than it's ever been for U.S. corn and soybeans, it puts a lot of pressure on a crop that some say is already a step behind.

"If you want to combine the cold, wet spring we've had with this new flooding, we're in a situation where we're taking yields off. This is the time where we absolutely need farmer to deliver a bumper crop to keep the demand at bay," he says. "I'm nervous now that we've already been off to a bad start. It's just not shaping up to get corn and beans to the point where we need to see them be."

Weather from now on

But, it's still technically spring, and once summer begins, that's when the crop will be made or broken, says University of Illinois ag economist Darrel Good.

"While planting date has a measurable impact on corn and soybean yield potential, planting date is not the dominate factor determining actual yield in a particular year," Good says. "Summer weather conditions tend to dominate yield outcomes."

Looking at the last 5 years when planting has been considerably behind the normal pace (1990, 1991, 1993, 1995 and 1996), like this year, Good says there wasn't much of a correlation between planting date and yield. In 3 of those years, yields did fall below trend, while one year's crop was at trend and one year surpassing it.

There are a couple of years that stick out from the late-planted years: 1993 and 2009. There were strong similarities between those years and this year so far, but with very different crop results.

"The largest shortfall relative to trend occurred in 1993, when summer weather was dominated by widespread flooding," Good says. "The U.S. average corn yield was above trend and record large, in the late planted year of 2009. A generally cool, wet summer in 2009 favored crop development and grain fill."

But, say the high waters recede and this summer's weather is closer to normal. Don't expect a bin-buster, Good says, but don't expect a total crop disaster.

"The actual yield outcome for these crops, however, will be determined by weather conditions over the next three months. The generally warmer, drier conditions now being experienced are likely favorable for crop development," he says. "At the same time, early summer conditions this year are not similar to summer weather conditions of 2009 that resulted in a record large U.S. average corn yield. The widespread favorable weather conditions of 2009 have occurred only rarely over the past 50 years."

Acres & market reaction

Regardless of how the weather unfolds this summer, there's still the issue of the acres that aren't -- and likely won't be -- planted. How many acres will this year's crop be short? Agriculture.com Marketing Talk members say the number for this year's corn crop is closer to 88 million acres than the expected 92 to 94 million acres.

"North and South Dakot awere supposed to bring an additional 2 million acres of corn. They are not even close to done and it's June 6," said Marketing Talk member Mizzou_Tiger on Monday. "If they are still planting corn, it's for insurance. This year will be all about harvested acres and yield. The trade doesn't care about what's been planted. If it did, it would have reacted by now."

But, maybe the trade does care, it just is afraid to soak it in all at once, Shellady says. Traders know the market has a lot of upside potential, but they don't know when and how much higher it will send prices.

If the market is ignoring this bad news because it's too afraid to digest it all, and I think we are, this market's fairly explosive," Shellady says. "I don't think it's going to be corn, beans and wheat, all 3, but I think it will definitely be one, maybe corn. The scary thing is what's the price of corn if we don't have any?

"The talk on the floor is that this thing is explosive and we want to make sure we've got some protection to the upside," he adds

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