Corn planting slowest since 1984

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON — Corn futures prices recovered some overnight after the U.S. Department of Agriculture said late May 6 corn planting in the 18-major states stood at 12% completed as of May 5. The planting number was on the low side of trade expectations and the slowest pace for the date since 9% in 1984.

In its weekly Crop Progress report, the U.S.D.A. said planting increased from just 5% a week earlier, but the 12% planted number was far behind last year’s 69% and the 2008-12 average for the date of 47%. Planting was under way in all of the 18 major states, with North Dakota getting 1% of its crop planted in the latest week. Planting in top-producing Iowa stood at 8% compared with 62% last year and 56% as the five-year average.

Corn emergence in the 18 states was 3% by May 5, behind 29% last year and 15% as the five-year average.

In its first 18-state aggregate soybean planting update of the season, the U.S.D.A. said 2% of the crop was in the ground by May 5, behind 22% last year and 12% as the 2008-12 average for the date. Soybean planting had yet to begin in 10 of the 18 major states.

Traders indicated it was the slowest pace on record for soybean planting, passing the old record of 4% for the date in 1996.

Improved weather this week was expected to allow more rapid planting progress across the Midwest, although more showers were forecast for some areas starting at midweek. Traders noted that progress this week and next will be critical as the central Corn Belt passes its optimal planting date for corn after which yields may begin to decline.

Corn futures prices were up slightly in electronic trading early May 7, while soybean futures were up about 5@8c a bu and wheat futures were up about 2@5c a bu. Futures prices closed sharply lower May 6, mainly on ideas of improved weather prospects for spring planting and winter wheat development.

Spring wheat planting in the six major states advanced to 23% completed, far behind 82% last year and 50% as the five-year average. Planting in top-producing North Dakota was 7% completed. The spring wheat crop was 5% emerged in the six states, compared with 43% last year and 19% as the average.

Sugar beet planting at 24% also significantly lagged the year-ago pace of 97% and the five-year average of 65%. No beets had been planted in North Dakota and only 4% in top-producing Minnesota as of May 5. The four-state total was boosted by 98% completion in Idaho.

Winter wheat condition ratings again slipped. Rated good to excellent in the 18 major states as of May 5 was 32% of the crop, down from 33% a week earlier and far below 63% a year ago. Thirty-nine per cent of winter wheat was rated poor to very poor, up from 35% the prior week and compared with only 12% at the same time last year.

Poor to very poor ratings as of May 5 increased in all seven of the major hard winter wheat states where the crop already was mostly rated poorly due to lingering drought and multiple freeze occurrences, some as late as last week.

Condition ratings in the soft winter wheat states, which have been well above those in the hard winter states, showed mixed changes in the latest week.

Overall, 20% of the winter wheat crop was headed as of May 5, well behind 64% at the same time last year and 39% as the five-year average. Prolonged cold weather has delayed development of the crop in most states.
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