Planting springs ahead

Farm Forum

05/05/15 — Last week was a great week of planting in the US, with 36% of the corn planted last week which pushed corn planting well ahead of normal. This was a critical week, with the start of May the beginning of the prime planting period for corn and soybeans.

Crop progress numbers out yesterday afternoon, Monday May 4 are pressuring the market, as corn planting progress came out at 55% complete, well ahead of average 38%, and jumping 36% last week from 19% the week before. Western Corn Belt states are from half done to nearing completion along with Illinois, while eastern Corn Belt states (Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee) continue to struggle behind average planting progress. Corn emergence is at 9% vs. 12% normally, as much of this week’s planting won’t emerge until late this week or next week sometime. Soybean planting sprung ahead of normal pace this week as well with 13% planted vs. 9% normally, with much of the progress in the western and central Corn Belt.

Northern Plains crops are all ahead of normal planting progress as well due to dry conditions thus far, with sugarbeets 96% planted vs. 51% normally. HRS wheat is 75% planted vs. 40% normally and 30% emerged vs. 16% normally, while barley planting is 75% complete vs. 47% normally, and 39% emerged vs. 17% normally. Oat planting is 85% complete vs. 67% normally, and 57% emerged vs. 50% normally. Pasture and range conditions are 53% rated G/E, above last year’s 39% rating.

Winter wheat crop ratings were up 1% with 43% rated G/E, with the excellent category gaining the 1% moving from fair. That pushed the Pro Ag winter wheat yield model up .30 bu/acre to 47.87 bu/acre, which means the crop is now getting bigger each week with the improvement in rainfall there. There is more rain falling in the Texas/Oklahoma panhandle today, and that will further improve crop conditions where the rain falls.

Crops in the southeast and eastern Corn Belt are behind normal planting progress due to wet soil conditions and cool temperatures thus far. Cotton is 17% planted vs. 22% normally, so it is still behind normal planting progress. Sorghum is 29% planted vs. 28% normally. Peanuts are only 10% planted vs. 14% normally, with rice 61% planted vs. 62% normally, with emergence also behind normal with 37% emerged vs. 45% normally.

Nationally topsoil moisture levels are 72% rated adequate or surplus, down from 76% last week but above last year’s 63% level. Subsoil moisture is 71% rated adequate/surplus, down from 72% last week and vs. 59% last year. The wet soils in the eastern Corn Belt and southeast are keeping soil ratings relatively high yet for the nation as a whole.

Weather forecasts today includes the rain in HRW wheat country mentioned above which is falling in western Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas and spreading into Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and northern Indiana/Ohio and southern Michigan. The seven day forecast features a wet period in the western Corn Belt and central Corn Belt, and even spreading into Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania that will be very helpful in the western and central Corn Belt where much planting progress recently took place. Mostly .5-1.5″, locally 2″ will fall that will greatly benefit the drier western Corn Belt. More importantly, it shows that it can rain in this region which has dried out. Even the dry Northern Plains is included in this rainfall, which will be very helpful to germinate recently planted HRS wheat, which is well ahead of normal planting progress.

The combination of excellent planting progress of corn along with the improving forecast for rain in the dry western Corn Belt and Northern Plains are pressuring the market. Corn is within 10c of their October lows, and wheat is pushing into new lows. With the winter wheat crop better than average and improving, it could be a tough spring for grain prices.