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Kent Thiesse

The Spring of 2019 has been a battle for crop producers in many portions of the Corn Belt, as they have tried to get corn and soybeans planted on a timely basis. Some favorable weather conditions during first portion of June has allowed for significant planting progress in the some of the hard-hit regions. However, there is still a significant amount of corn and soybeans remaining to be planted in the Eastern Corn Belt, as well as in parts of Southwest Minnesota, Northwest Iowa, and Eastern South Dakota. Frequent rainfall events from late April through most of May resulted in the serious planting delays. In addition, excessive rainfall and flooding also resulted in drown-out damage in some fields that were previously planted.

Total rainfall amounts across Minnesota during the month of May were quite variable. Most areas of Southern Minnesota received above average rainfall during the month of May, with some portions of Southwest Minnesota, as well as adjoining areas of Iowa and South Dakota, receiving 7-9 inches of rainfall, or more, during the month. This resulted in delayed planting, as well as some standing water in portions of the region. In areas that received more moderate amounts of precipitation during May, planting progress and crop development have advanced further.

The University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Center at Waseca recorded 6.33 inches of rainfall during May and another 1.04 inches during the first few days of June, which followed 4.25 inches of rainfall in April. The May precipitation total was 2.4 inches above to long-term monthly average precipitation at Waseca, while the April total was just over an inch above normal. The U of M Southwest Research and Outreach Center at Lamberton received 10.71 inches of rainfall during April and May, which is nearly 4.5 inches above normal. During the month of May, rainfall was recorded on 21 days at Waseca and 18 days at Lamberton.

In addition to being very wet, the month of May was extremely cool, which slowed seed germination and crop emergence. As of May 31, only 217 growing degree units (GDU”s) had been accumulated at the U of M Research Center at Waseca since May 1, which is about 35 percent behind normal. The average 24-hour temperature at Waseca was over 5 degrees below normal during May. Fortunately, some warmer temperatures during early June has helped to somewhat improve the situation and has resulted in improved germination and emergence for later planted corn and soybeans.

Based on the June 2 USDA Crop Progress Report, only 67 percent of the corn in the U.S. was planted, which compares to a five-year (2014-2018) average of 96 percent planted. The 2019 U.S. corn planting progress on June 2 was at the lowest level in the modern era of U.S. agriculture. Minnesota’s planted corn acreage on June 2 was at 76 percent and Iowa was at 80 percent planted, which compares to five-year averages of 98 percent in Minnesota and 99 percent in Iowa by that date.

Corn planting progress in the Eastern Corn Belt on June 2 lagged far behind normal with Illinois at 45 percent, Indiana at 31 percent, and Ohio at 33 percent. South Dakota was only at 44 percent of the corn planted on June 2, while North Dakota was at 81 percent planted. Some corn planting progress did occur during the first week of June in some of the hard-hit areas. Corn emergence and early development has lagged well behind normal throughout the Midwest and Plains States.

The June 2 USDA Report indicated that only 39 percent of the anticipated U.S. soybean acreage was planted, compared to a 5-year (2014-2018) average of 79 percent by that date. The June 2 report showed 51 percent of the soybeans planted in Minnesota and 41 percent planted in Iowa, which compares to the five-year averages of 90 percent in Minnesota and 89 percent in Iowa. Some major soybean planting progress was made in Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa during the first week of June. Other major soybean producing States that lag well behind normal planting progress as of June 2 include Illinois at 21 percent, Indiana at 17 percent, Ohio at 18 percent, and South Dakota at 14 percent. North Dakota had 70 percent of the intended soybean acres planted by June 2.

As of June 2, it was estimated that there were over 30 million acres of corn and 50 million acres of soybeans remaining to be planted in the U.S.. The big question with corn has been: “How many of those corn acres will actually get planted and how many acres will farmers choose to put under prevented planting?” The crop insurance final planting dates for corn were May 31 in Minnesota, Iowa and Eastern South Dakota and June 5 in the Eastern Corn Belt. Following those dates farmers had the choice of planting the corn late with a reduction in the maximum insurance coverage, or to file for prevented planting to collect 55 percent of their insurance guarantee. The crop insurance final planting dates for soybeans range from June 10 in Minnesota to June 15 in Iowa and June 20 in the Eastern Corn Belt, so there has been some additional time to get soybeans planted with full insurance coverage.

It is likely that a considerable amount of corn was planted in early June, due to quite favorable planting conditions in some areas of the Midwest. In addition, livestock producers in some regions are very concerned about the local corn supply later this year and into 2020, and thus are continuing to plant corn well into June. Historically, June planted soybeans tend to respond better to late planting than late planted corn in many areas of the Corn Belt. We will probably not have a good handle on the amount of prevented planted acres until the next USDA crop acreage report in late June, and possibly not until harvest season this fall.

Farm operators that are facing prevented planting decisions should contact their crop insurance agent for details and information. Kent Thiesse, farm management analyst, has prepared an information sheet titled: “Late and Prevented Planting Options for 2019,” which contains details on prevented planting requirements and considerations. To receive a copy of the prevented planting information sheet, please send an e-mail to: kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.

For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, farm management analyst and senior vice president, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, Minn., at (507) 381-7960 or kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com, or visit www.minnstarbank.com.

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