In a prior post we had noted that while there is keen interest in the pace of corn plantings and its impact on final yields, we noted that summer weather has a greater influence in this regard than planting dates.
There is a however a relation between planting date and the change in U.S. corn acreage from the March prospective plantings numbers to the final acreage figures contained in the annual crop production report released in January.
The price of corn is also an important factor in determining whether farmers stick with their original intentions or perhaps switch crops if the calendar dictates that such a move may be necessary.
This chart shows the change in the U.S. corn planted area from the March intentions to the final crop report in 1000 acres vs. the percent of the crop planted by May 5th where the ten year average is a 45% planted rate.
Highlighted in yellow is the November soybean/December corn ratio as of May 1st.
The slowest planting pace seen in recent years was in 2013 when a mere 12% was in the ground as of May 5th and even though the May 1st SX2013/CZ2013 ratio was a rather low 2.20 at the time (which favors planting corn over soybeans which is the next alternative crop most Midwest farmers would plant if they cannot get their corn crop in the ground on a timely basis), final 2013 corn acreage fell a sharp 1.917 million acres as reported in the final crop production report.
Other slow planting years include 2011 when only 28% was planted yet acreage fell only 242,000 with a low SX/CZ ratio of 2.08, 2008 when just 30% was in the ground yet an even lower ratio of 1.95 resulted in final corn acreage down only 32,000 from the March intentions and 1999 with 36% planted as of May 5th with acreage down 0.833 mln with a ratio of 2.16.
The flip side is if speedy plantings result in higher final acreage than what farmers indicated back in March.
In 2010, 74% of the crop was planted by May 5th yet acreage still fell by 606,000 as a very high SX/CZ ratio of 2.48 caused some producers to switch to soybeans though this was not the case in 2004 when plantings by May 5th were 72% complete or in 2000 when plantings were 70% done and final corn acreage respectively was 1.925 and 1.670 million above the March intentions figures with the ratio 2.35 in 2004 and 2.21 in 2000.
It appears that farmers are more willing to stick with corn even if plantings are late if the economics favor planting corn over soybeans while in years of fast corn plantings where one may think that this could result in extra corn being planted, attractive soybean prices vis-a-vis those of corn can prompt producers to switch crops.