Spring rains have moved steadily through the central U.S., and the impact has been tangible.
Winter wheat crop ratings continue to improve due to the active rainfall pattern. The good to excellent total this week is 53%, 2 percentage points up from a week ago, but still five points below last year. Southern Plains good to excellent totals are now at 48% in Kansas, 45% in Oklahoma, 41% in Texas, 42% in Colorado, and 48% in Nebraska. Southern Plains ratings were from 2 to 5 percentage points up from a week ago. Region-wise, the Southern Plains ratings are still the lowest, but they are doing better.
Meanwhile, in the far West and Northwest, the ratings are outstanding. In California, 60% of the winter wheat rates "good" and 40% rates "excellent" -- for a good-to-excellent total of 100%. Oregon's good-to-excellent total is 87%, and Washington's is 84%.
We look for continued improvement in conditions as an active rainfall pattern continues. This rain will be very beneficial as the crop enters the critical heading stage of development during the next few weeks.
The scenario is not quite as favorable when it comes to row-crop fieldwork. Corn planting is beginning to fall behind normal in the southern and eastern Midwest due to a wet weather pattern. Illinois corn planting is only 1% done compared with a five-year average of 5%. Missouri corn planting is only 5% done versus an average of 21%. Iowa has no corn planting to report, but the state crop progress report notes that oats planting is about a week behind average. This rainy situation is likely to continue. However, we are not overly concerned about this as it's very evident that planting can be done rapidly once there is a break in the wet pattern.
In the Delta, corn planting is running ahead of normal and is nearly complete in Louisiana. Soybean planting is also ahead of normal. Cotton planting is just getting underway. Planting weather is expected to be generally favorable in the southern crop areas during the next week.
Spring wheat planting is ongoing in South Dakota and just getting underway in North Dakota and Minnesota. Corn planting will follow once soil temperatures warm enough to support germination.
As far as the Pacific Ocean is concerned, we continue to feel we are in an El Nino signature pattern despite the fact that the official parameters used by the U.S. and Australia are not at El Nino levels. These government agencies look at the parameters in the central Pacific to define an El Nino. This event is due to strong warming in the eastern Pacific.
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