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Planters roll in western Corn Belt

My forecast for the national corn planting progress figure this afternoon is 15 percent, which will likely put me at the low end of trade guesses but we are basically assured that the number will be the third slowest ever (since 1985) for May 1 (the slowest two years were 1995 at 11 percent done on that date, and 1993 when corn planting was 8 percent done); a figure of 18 percent or lower would put it in that category.

The number today will compare with a figure of 65 percent done last year and a five-year average of 40 percent. There was corn getting planted over the weekend in the western Corn Belt, especially in Nebraska, and more will be getting done the next few days as the western Corn Belt will stay dry through Wednesday. Look for a good amount of fieldwork to get done in Iowa and northwestern Illinois as well, and some corn will go in the ground in northern Missouri and southern Minnesota too. The area that is still not going to turn a wheel this week is the southeastern Corn Belt, as more substantial rain fell in southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Indiana, and southwestern Ohio overnight and more will be falling in those already-water-logged areas over the next 24 hours.

The northern Delta is also extremely wet as much of Arkansas and western Tennessee have had big rains since Saturday night. Farmers in North Dakota still have fieldwork operations on hold because of very wet conditions, and most notable about weekend weather there was a blizzard in western North Dakota that produced over a foot of snow in some spots. The next chance for rain in the western Corn Belt comes for Wednesday night and into Thursday, and that may start a series of fairly weak weather systems that will frequent the Midwest right through May 12.

None of them look to produce real big rains by themselves, but totalling them up puts the Northern Plains and the Corn Belt easily into above-normal rainfall for the 6-10 day time frame. Some areas will make some planting progress early this week, but there are still concerns regarding when we can get all of the 2011 corn crop in the ground. My early guess for next week's corn planting progress number would be in the 30-35 percent range, and remember that anything below 40 percent on that report would keep this year as the third slowest ever since 1985.

Freese-Notis Weather, Inc. Des Moines, Iowa Copyright 2011 - All Rights Reserved

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