May 12, 2009

                             
US crop seeding drags in eastern Corn Belt
                                       


Farmers continued to struggle to plant corn in the eastern US Corn Belt last week, while spring wheat seeding in the northern Plains remained well behind average, the US Department of Agriculture said Monday (May 11) in its weekly crop progress report.

 

Soy planting also was behind normal, although the delay is not as much of a concern as it is for corn, analysts said. Soy is planted later in the year than corn.


The USDA said 48 percent of the corn crop was in the ground as of May 10, on par with last year but below the five-year average of 71 percent. Traders had expected planting to be 45 percent to 55 percent complete.


Wet weather has delayed planting in eastern states and left Indiana and Illinois "hugely behind the eight ball," said Dale Durchholz, analyst for AgriVisor. In Illinois, 10 percent of the crop was planted, down from 55 percent last year and the average of 84 percent.


In Indiana, 11 percent of the crop was planted, down from 57 percent last year and the average of 70 percent. Ohio's crop was 22 percent seeded, down from 47 percent last year and the average of 68 percent.


Western states, such as Iowa and Minnesota, have made much more progress due to drier weather. Iowa's crop was 81 percent seeded, up from 42 percent last year and the average of 76 percent, according to the USDA.

 

In Minnesota, 81 percent of the crop was planted, up from 29 percent last year and the average of 69 percent. Farmers seeded 78 percent of Nebraska's crop, up from 52 percent last year and the average of 70 percent.

 

"Corn planting is really a tale of two cities," said Durchholz. "It's stark."

 

Planting is late enough in eastern areas to raise concerns about the potential for yield losses but not late enough for producers to assume "seriously negative" yield problems, he said. Corn yields can be nipped by cold weather in the fall, although an extended fall last year benefited the crop after spring planting delays.

 

Fourteen percent of the corn crop was emerged as of Sunday, compared to 10 percent the previous week and the average of 28 percent, the USDA said. Emergence was 24 percent in Iowa, up from the average of 23 percent, and 3 percent in Illinois, down from the average of 49 percent.


Soy planting was 14 percent complete, up from 11 percent last year but down from the average of 25 percent, according to the USDA. Analysts had estimated planting would be 14 percent to 22 percent complete.

 

As in corn, western states made more progress getting soy in the ground than eastern states. Iowa's crop was 21 percent planted, up from 3 percent last year and down from the average of 26 percent, the USDA said.

 

In Indiana, soy planting was 2 percent complete, down from 17 percent last year and the average of 31 percent. In Illinois, no soy was planted yet, compared to 6 percent last year and the average of 28 percent.

 

"The beans are really just a function of the corn being slowed down in the eastern belt," Durchholz said.

 

It's a little too early to get overly concerned about soy planting delays, he said. Farmers are likely focusing on seeding corn first and putting off soy planting because soy can be more vulnerable to cold snaps, he added.


Spring wheat planting was 35 percent complete, down from 77 percent last year and the average of 78 percent, the USDA said. Traders and analysts had expected 38 percent to 45 percent of the crop to be in the ground.


Cool, wet weather continued to delay fieldwork in the northern Plains last week. North Dakota, which Durchholz called the "kingpin" of spring wheat states, had 13 percent of the crop planted, down from 78 percent last year and the average of 74 percent. Prior to the report's release, a trader had estimated about 15 percent of North Dakota's crop was planted.

 

In Minnesota, 24 percent of the crop was planted, according to the USDA. That was down from 60 percent last year and the average of 76 percent.

 

"North Dakota and Minnesota are somewhat like what's going on in Indiana and Illinois in the corn market," Durchholz said. "We've just been throttled to an absolute standstill pretty much."

 

Planting delays have been supportive for Minneapolis Grain Exchange spring wheat futures amid concerns that late planting will reduce yields. Farmers may switch acres to other crops, such as soy, unless the market "really starts to compensate" them for sticking with spring wheat, Durchholz said.


The USDA rated US winter wheat 46 percent good to excellent, down one percentage point from last week. The crop's poor to very poor rating stayed unchanged at 27 percent.