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Planting Date, Yield Implications & What the Trade Thinks

Most of this year's corn crop is planted. But, the remaining acres may not be the easiest to get sown, if they do at all. So, what are the implications of the current planting pace and what could that mean to prices down the road?

At the beginning of this week, 85% of the U.S. crop was in the ground, and though rainfall and lingering damp soils have likely limited progress over the last few days and is expected to do the same over much of the next week, more of the crop is slowly making its way into the soil.

Then again, the optimal planting window has closed...quite some time ago for some farmers. That means any corn planted from this point on won't yield as much as that planted under conditions closer to "ideal" earlier in the spring, agronomists agree. But, how much yield potential's been lost? More importantly, what is the market's perception of what's going on around the country? The answer to the first question is fairly well-known and may not have a whole lot of influence over the second question's answer.

"[A USDA model shows] the U.S. average corn yield is increased by 0.289 bushels per acre for each percentage of the crop that is planted by May 15. In this model, acreage planted by May 15 is considered not to be late planted. As a result, the yield impact of each percentage of the crop planted late (defined as after May 15) has an equal but opposite impact on yield," according to a report from a team of University of Illinois Extension ag economists led by Scott Irwin. "Based on the USDA crop weather model, the yield impact of late planting that exceeds average is not trivial. The percent of the U.S. corn crop planted after May 15 averaged 28% from 1988 through 2014, but ranged from 8 to 63%. Late planting that exceeds average by as little as 5 points would be expected to reduce the national average yield by about 1.5 bushels per acre."


Irwin and fellow U of I economists Darrel Good and John Newton used long-term production data over the last 25+ years compiled by U of I corn agronomist Emerson Nafziger to yield these figures as well as the projection for this year's expected tally of "late-planted corn." Ultimately, they say they expect about 18% of this year's corn crop to fall in the "late planted" category nationwide, and based on their research, that's likely to mean an average corn yield for the nation of just shy of 167 bushels/acre.

What's that mean to the grain market? Though they admit it's way too early and there are too many other factors in play at this stage in the game, the U of I economists say at this stage, the market may be overestimating the current yield potential in corn fields in the U.S.

"At 166.9 bushels, that yield expectation is, not surprisingly, almost identical to the current USDA projection of 166.8 bushels," according to Irwin, Good and Newton. "Since the corn market reflects both supply and demand considerations, it is difficult to determine what expected yield the market is currently trading, but it is our judgement that the market may be trading an expected yield in the 168 to 169 bushel range."


Published: 5/22/2015
I interviewed a handful of people from Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa yesterday on their germination success. The majority of corn looks great, but there are areas where that's not the case. The link below will take you to the article. Kacey.


Published: 5/21/2015
Nerves are starting to flare as the end of May is quickly approaching. While the majority of corn has been planted and soybean acres are climbing, there are still a number of issues farmers need to keep a watchful eye on. Here are several things you'll want to stay ahead of this spring.


Published: 5/21/2015
All, Back in 12/2013, I wrote a story (see below link) about corn on corn. At that time, it still seemed the thing to do, given some fairly high prices. I thought it would have, but the 3/31/15 USDA planting intentions report showing corn acres above trade expectations blew my thinking (and ...


Published: 5/21/2015
Though most Corn Belt states have had excellent emergence, some have experienced more of a mixed bag. Midwest farmers who have been able to enjoy ideal planting windows experienced dry conditions, mixed with warm spells. "Germination is always good, and this year was no exception," says Emerson Nafziger, Extension agronomist at the University of Illinois.


Published: 5/21/2015
This weekend marks the unofficial start to summer. where it's needed least in the coming days; in fact, the outlook has some farmers starting to think in terms of tardiness for a spring planting pace that was just a couple of weeks ago steaming along at a speedy pace. Based on the forecast, it will be June before we put a bean in the ground.


Published: 5/19/2015
Though Monday's USDA Crop Progress report showed another big week of planting progress, it certainly wasn't a dry week, with anywhere from half an inch to 2 inches of rain falling through the Corn Belt and heavier amounts up to 4 inches in the Dakotas and northern Corn Belt, according to Tuesday's USDA Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin.


Published: 5/19/2015
All, I've done quite a bit on Palmer amaranth, and plan to do so again. This pigweed has been a huge problem in mid-South states like Arkansas, and it has been found as far north as in Michigan and South Dakota. Have you heard any reports of it surfacing in your area. Thanks, Gil Gullickson Crops Technology Editor.


Published: 5/19/2015
The early verdict on the overnight cooldown in the northern Plains and Corn Belt is some crop may need to be replanted, but on the whole, damage could have been way worse. Expectations heading into the chilly overnight period were for frosting and freezing temperatures to stretch south as far as northern Nebraska in the Plains and down to around the Minnesota/Iowa border.


Published: 5/19/2015
With 85% of the nation’s corn crop planted and more than half of that emerged, posts on social media are quickly transitioning from the popular #plant15 to #grow15. Click through this slideshow to see state-by-state updates on corn growth. Crop data is based on Monday’s USDA-NASS Crop Progress report for the week ending May 17.


Published: 5/18/2015
Chat the chilly forecast for the northern Plains in Marketing Talk See more of the outlook for tonight's weather If you're in a potentially affected area and anticipate frost or freezing temperatures tonight, you may be chomping at the bit to drag the winter coat back out of the closet and check your fields in the morning after the sun rises and reveals what sort of damage a late-season Jack Frost may have inflicted.

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