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3 Big Things Today, May 25, 2022

Wheat Futures Plunge Overnight; Pace of Corn Planting Shows How Far Tech Has Come.

1. Wheat Futures Drop in Overnight Trading

Wheat futures plunged in overnight trading and corn and soybeans fell on favorable weather in much of the United States.

Precipitation is expected in much of the Southern Plains today into tomorrow, which should help allay concerns about dry weather in the region, according to data from the National Weather Service.

Rains began falling just in the nick of time for some farmers in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, where hard-red winter wheat is growing.

As much as six times the normal amount of rain has fallen in the Texas Panhandle and almost all of northern Oklahoma in the past seven days, data from the NWS's precipitation page show.

Only 28% of the U.S. winter-wheat crop was in good or excellent condition as of Sunday, and while that's up a percentage point from the previous week, it's still a low number considering a year earlier 47% earned top ratings, the Department of Agriculture said in a report.

Sixty-three percent was headed at the start of the week, just behind the normal 65% for this time of year.

Dry weather in the Midwest in recent days is fueling a drop in corn and soybean prices as worries that delayed planting would negatively affect yields have been allayed.

Farmers in the past two weeks have planted 50% of the U.S. corn crop, of which 72% is now in the ground, the USDA said. That's now just seven percentage points behind the prior five-year average.

Half the U.S. soybean crop was planted as of Sunday, up from only 30% a week earlier but still behind the normal 50% for this time of year, the government said.

Spring-wheat planting was 49% finished this week, up from 39% last week but still well behind the average of 83%, the USDA said in its report. About 29% has emerged, up from 16% a week earlier but still behind the normal 50% for this time of year.

Wheat for July delivery plunged 27 1/4¢ to $11.27 ½ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade while Kansas City futures dropped 24 3/4¢ to $12.13 a bushel.

Corn futures were down 7 1/2¢ to $7.64 ¼ a bushel.

Soybean futures for July delivery lost 7 3/4¢ to $16.84 ¼ a bushel. Soymeal dropped $3.40 to $423.70 a short ton, while soybean oil futures fell 0.57¢ to 79.55¢ a pound.

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2. Speed of Corn Planting Shows How Fast Technology, Willpower Have Come

A decade or two ago, if planting fell behind as far as it did this year, there was little chance of recovery.

This isn't a decade or two ago.

Corn planting started in earnest around the beginning of April in the United States, when 2% of the crop was in the ground, which was on par with the prior five-year average, according to data from the Ag Department.

Farmers immediately fell behind on planting, putting zero percent in the ground in the next seven days due to wet or snowy weather in parts of the Corn Belt.

By May 8, only 22% of the crop had been planted, well behind the 50% average for that time of year, the USDA said in its weekly crop progress report, as precipitation kept producers out of the fields for the first six weeks of the season.

In the next seven days, however, U.S. farmers managed to more than double the amount of corn they put in the ground. A week later, growers planted another 27% of the crop, bringing the total planted as of May 15 to 49% of the total crop.

But they weren't done.

In the seven days that ended on May 22, growers had planted 72% of U.S. corn, almost catching up to the prior five-year average of 79%.

In two weeks, farmers planted half the U.S. crop, which if the USDA's prospective plantings report at the end of March is correct, would be a whopping 45 million acres.

In 14 days.

While planting is still behind the average, getting that much in the ground shows how far technology and sheer willpower have come in the past decade or two.

"The ongoing sowing of corn shows how quickly" farmers can catch up on planting if they fall behind these days, said Carsten Fritsch, an economist with Commerzbank. "This is likely to ease previous concerns that the delays to planting could lead to yield shortfalls or even a last-minute switch to soybeans."

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3. Thunderstorms Expected in Parts of Oklahoma, Texas Panhandles

Thunderstorms are expected in parts of the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles this morning and afternoon, though no severe weather is expected, according to the National Weather Service.

That should alleviate some concerns about dry weather in the region, and likely will help some plants recover.

Still, a warming trend is on the way for the area with temperatures expected to be in the triple digits in southwestern Oklahoma and areas in north Texas, the NWS said in a report early this morning.

Further north in eastern Iowa and northern Illinois, there's a "marginal risk" of severe weather this afternoon and evening.

"The main risk will be damaging winds with a lower risk of a tornado near a warm front," the NWS said.

The threat of storms will continue through tomorrow evening, the agency said. Some may be strong in southeastern Iowa and west-central Illinois.

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