Chapter 13  April 19th : Crop Watch: Producers Ease Planting Amid Cold Spell; Soil Conditions Good

U.S. farmers got a good head start on corn and soybean planting last week amid unseasonably warm weather, but cooler temperatures along with some rains have slowed efforts this week.

So far, the Crop Watch producers are on pace to plant their corn and soybeans at a faster rate than last year, and many hope to resume next week after pausing or reducing activity this week.

Crop Watch follows 11 corn and 11 soybean fields across nine U.S. states, including two each in Iowa and Illinois. This is the sixth consecutive year for the project, which gathers weekly updates, photos and crop ratings from each location throughout the growing season. Weekly reports will start after the subject fields have emerged.

As of Tuesday, four Crop Watch fields had been planted and a fifth, the Indiana soybeans, was in progress. Corn fields in Kansas, western Iowa and western Illinois were planted on April 12, and the southeastern Illinois soybeans were finished on Monday.

Last year, only four of the 22 fields were planted in April, though nine were planted between May 7 and May 11 as weather improved. Progress was quick in 2021 with 13 of 22 fields planted in April and six completed in the first week of May.

At least six more fields could be planted before May begins, but those would likely be started mid-next week at the earliest.

April 19th : Crop Watch: Producers Ease Planting Amid Cold Spell; Soil Conditions Good-Pic no.1


Weather forecasts as of Tuesday show that the U.S. Corn Belt is likely to be cooler than average for at least the next two weeks, though some Crop Watch producers from Nebraska to Ohio hope to be moving again in a week.

Cool temperatures, especially if accompanied by rain, can be harmful for newly seeded, un-emerged corn, causing hesitation among many growers. That is less of a concern with soybeans, but soybeans generally have a wider planting window versus corn.

Most of the Crop Watchers in the core Corn Belt say soil conditions are good or even excellent for planting because of the optimal amount of moisture, though the ground remains too cold in some areas. Heavy snow piles have nearly melted in South Dakota, and the producer says the ground is in ideal shape for now.

The Western Iowa grower says planting conditions could be the best he has ever seen, but the lack of subsoil moisture is a potential concern for later. Very dry conditions are still worrying for the producer in Nebraska, where drought clipped crop yields in 2022.

In North Dakota, last week's snow is melting, but any kind of field work might be two weeks away at the earliest. However, the producer is not yet worried and targets mid-May for corn planting and late May or early June for soybeans. He says others in the area have not yet discussed changing their acreage mix.

The Kansas producer notes that winter wheat yields in his area could be at best 50% of normal after severe drought this season. The Crop Watch corn field caught 1.2 inches (30.5 mm) of rain two days after planting, an amount that has been rarely seen since last summer.

U.S. progress

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's statistics service estimated U.S. corn planting at 8% complete, up from 3% the prior week and ahead of the five-year average of 5%. Analysts were expecting 10%, with estimates ranging from 6% to 17%.

Since 1980, U.S. corn planting progress has matched or exceeded 10% by April 16 only five times, most recently in 2016. The date's fastest is 19% in 2012.

Soybeans were 4% planted as of April 16, ahead of the trade guess of 2% and the average of 1%. That is the earliest date for which U.S. soybean planting data has been reported, implying a record or near-record pace for now. The five-year average soy planting pace by April 30 is 11%.

Some notable corn planting progress by state as of Sunday include Illinois at 10%, Iowa 7%, Kansas 17% and Missouri 30%. Those compare with respective five-year averages of 3%, 1%, 10% and 8%.

Fast soybean planting was supported by southern states including Arkansas at 19% seeded as of Sunday, Louisiana 30% and Mississippi 23%. The respective averages for the date are 8%, 16% and 14%.

Although this week's planting progress is likely to be slower than last week, it is too early to assume planting will be delayed since some producers remain optimistic on returning to fields next week.

The five-year average corn planting is 11% for April 23 and 26% for April 30. The slowest April 30 corn pace in recent years was 13% in 2022. The April 23 soy average is 4%.

Source: ZAWYA

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