NEPERVILLE – U.S. corn plantings have been at a second-slower pace for more than a quarter of a century, and spring wheat planting is the slowest on record, and the potential for a single crop has been rightly questioned.
Extremely wet and cold weather has plagued the North American plains this spring, pushing farmers far beyond the schedule of North Dakota, North Minnesota and parts of South Dakota. Final planting dates for crop insurance are fast approaching, and the current pace suggests that some acres may not be planted in these years.
However, it is important to understand how the decision to claim plant resistance may be reflected in the weekly planting progress numbers. This could suggest a more productive pace than what actually happened, or it could mean that the current acreage targets are right.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Statistical Service (NASS) publishes weekly national crop progress reports from April to November. Crop progress is estimated from local agricultural experts, primarily county extension agents, with the goal of at least one report from each county.
Respondents make subjective judgments based on what they see and hear, and they estimate the progress of weekly plantings in the county as they assume that the total plantings were intended for that date. The percentage was not taken from NASS’s March Objectives report, which gives expected plantings at the state and national levels, not counties.
For example, if a respondent hears that many local farmers have stopped eating corn in a week and have decided to plant soybeans or pay for planting instead, they will rely on an assessment of their overall planting progress. Thus a state may seem to have made significant progress in weekly planting without going to a single planting field.
That may not have happened last week, as most parts of North Dakota have a final planting date of 25 May for corn, 31 May or 5 June for spring wheat, and 10 June for soybeans. Central and Southern Minnesota have corn until May 31st.
However, the “prevention plant” effect on sowing speed may be effective in the next few weeks. Observe the observed weather and how many days NASS shows as suitable for fieldwork that week. For the week ending May 22, North Dakota had a 3.2 day fit, compared to 1.9 in the previous week.
On Monday afternoon NASS completed US corn planting progress 72% as of Sunday vs. 49% a week earlier and a five-year average of 79%. North Dakota corn reached 20% vs. 4% a week ago and averaged 66%.
As of Sunday, only 49% of U.S. spring wheat had been planted, the slowest to date since the record began in 1981. That compares with 39% in the previous week and 83% on average.
The North Dakota spring wheat planting was 27% complete vs. 80% average and 17% a week earlier, and Minnesota was only 11% complete, down from 5% in the previous week and well below the 90% average. These two states produce two-thirds of the U.S. spring wheat crop.
Some states are doing better than others, and many have reached almost normal levels in corn and soybean plantings in the last two weeks. Most areas faced heavy rainfall and cold temperatures in early spring, which slowed down field work.
50% of completed U.S. soybean planting is much less delayed than corn or wheat on May 22, with an average of 55%. However, North Dakota, which planted in the country’s fourth-largest soybean region, continued to move at the slowest pace, ending just 7% as of Sunday, 47% better than average. Karen Brown is a Reuters market analyst. The opinion expressed above is his own.
(Edited by Matthew Lewis)