Fundamentally Speaking

When U.S. Corn Plantings Hit 25, 50 and 75% Complete Levels

Joel Karlin
By  Joel Karlin , DTN Contributing Analyst

It is quite apparent that U.S. corn plantings will not get off to an earlier than normal start and even an average pace of corn seedings looks unlikely.

Much of the Corn Belt is experiencing an extended winter even into mid-April with a number of Upper Midwest states seeing a major blizzard this past weekend with soil temperatures as much as 20 degrees below the 50-degree threshold needed to germinate corn seed.

Unfortunately the forecast for the rest of the month features below normal temperatures for much of the Midwest, though rainfall is seen rather light.

Keep in mind that with today's modern equipment farmers can and have seeded anywhere from 40-50% of intended acreage in one week.

This graphic shows the days after April 1st that 25%, 50% and 75% of the nation's corn has been planted from 1986 to 2017.

We also show the trend of these planting levels and the percent that each specific year's final corn yield deviated from the 1986-2017 trend given the idea that speedy corn plantings can improve the odds of trend or higher yields.

As an example, last year U.S. corn seedings at the 25%, 50% and 75% level were respectively 27, 38 and 46 days after April 1st.

With April having 30 days, this corresponds to the dates of April 27th, May 8th and May 16th.

We note that last year's record national yield of 176.6 bushels per acre (bpa) was 4.3% above the 1986-2017 trend.

It is true that late corn plantings can have a depressing impact on final yields due to the key pollination phase pushed back into hotter part of summer and the possibility of an early frost.

But work we have done suggests summer weather is much more important in determination of final yields and in that regard many in trade feel recent heavy precipitation in Corn Belt very good for recharging subsoil moisture levels.

A look at the data shows that in 2010 the corn crop was put in the ground very fast with 25% planted by April 18th, 50% by April 25th and 75% seeded by May 6th yet final yields that year were 1.6% below trend.

On the other hand, in 2009 when corn yields were a record plantings were rather slow with 25% planted by April 29th, 50% by May 11th and 75% seeded by May 22nd.

A final point is the trend for the 25, 50 and 75% level show each mark being attained earlier in the year than seen in the past.



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