Ag Weather Forum

The "Seventy-Percenters"

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
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I actually said "70 percent" for corn planting this week on Monday morning. I was on a weather call with Michelle Rook, farm director at WNAX radio in Yankton, South Dakota--and the first question on the live call was "What do you think about planting progress?" I said, "We could be 65 to 70 percent". And lo and behold, what came out Monday afternoon? News that U.S. corn farmers planted a record 41.8 million acres of corn in one week last week, per USDA data. The old record was 34.1 million acres. Corn plantings jumped 43 percentage points to 71 percent, now just 8 points behind the average 79 percent. Emergence went from five percent last week to 19 percent, still 27 points behind the average 46 percent.

Soybean planting had a big increase to 24 percent from six percent last week. Emergence is still behind average at three percent, compared to the average 14 percent.

Good row crop weather last week and the robust technology that producers have available truly made the difference. I saw that for myself last week, when I spent a couple hours on a tractor and planter, and saw myself for the first time what auto-steer and precision planting technology can do--and it was astounding. Butler county, Nebraska farmer Bart Ruth was my host--and he said, "I never get tired now. I can plant 'way after dark now."

Judging by that comment, and the numbers this week, a lot of growers did just that. Talk about "giddy-up". In corn planting, IA and IL jumped more than four TIMES the previous week's percentage. WI, MN, and ND more than tripled the previous week. NE, SD, IN, MI, and MO more than doubled their previous week's total. And ND and MN, for all the comment about wet fields, are now in the ballpark on corn planting. ND at 61 percent is just a point behind average. MN at 70 percent lags by 14 percentage points.

In the top corn production states from last year, you now have these numbers on planting: Iowa 71 percent (average 92); Minnesota 70 percent (average 84); Nebraska 84 percent (average 92); Illinois 74 percent (average 77); and Indiana 64 percent (average 65).

Spring wheat planting is well off the dime also at 67 percent complete, only nine percentage points behind the five year average of 76 percent. Last week, NASS reported just 43 percent complete. Minnesota jumped to 71 percent from the previous report’s 19 percent (more than three times the previous week), while North Dakota nearly doubled its plantings to 50 percent completed.

Looking ahead, concern and attention will now focus on actually growing all those newly-seeded plants. Corn emergence, for example, is at 19 percent this week. That's almost four times the five percent figure a week ago, but it's still less than half the 46 percent average. And, there are some areas of the Midwest now looking for rain--especially in the eastern areas, where they're needing some moisture. We have indeed gone from "planting delays" to "rain makes grain".

Meanwhile, winter wheat continues to struggle along. This week's condition rating at 31 percent good to excellent is down another percentage point from a week ago, and poor to very poor condition totals increased another couple percentage points to 41 percent poor to very poor this week. Winter wheat progress is also 'way behind--total heading is just 43 percent, almost 20 points behind the 62 percent average. And in Kansas, heading progress is just 41 percent compared with the average 74 percent. Last week's withering heat once again did the Plains wheat crop no favors.


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5/22/2013 | 12:05 PM CDT
I cant verify that these planting numbers are correct with friends and family across corn belt. I would really be concerned with corn yields being able to top the 140 mark with late planting, poor chemical performance, and who really knows what July holds for us weather wise. The USDA will have to find a way to correct their mark which seems unrealistic. I wish everyone the best for sure.
5/21/2013 | 9:08 PM CDT
I have been wondering what % of this corn crop has been planted in good soil conditions? Growers get nervous when they see the forecast is calling for more rain in a few days and their planter is still parked in the shed from the last rain. So unfortunately what happens (most growers are guilty of making this mistake at some point) is planters get to the field a day or two too early in less than ideal conditions. Also I've seen disks & field cultivators taken to the field to "help dry things out" ahead of the planter which adds to the problem. If the belt has ideal or close to it growing conditions this summer then it probably won't be a big issue. But if heat and dryness return then problems would show up earlier than they might otherwise would have. Just something to consider.
james earl
5/21/2013 | 6:17 PM CDT
Best crop in 28 years as far as emergence and seed spacing. Corn and beans are up in 6 days without a rain. We live in west central INDIANA. We are 100% done as of the 16th of may. Looking out our back door I see 3$ corn this fall, we all have the tendency to only see what is out our back door. I hope all farmers with crops to get in have a window. But this market will test our patience. As it does every day,week month and year. This market needs a weather problem to sustain a resonable price level.. Remember when corn was 2.80
5/21/2013 | 12:00 PM CDT
tbs farms
5/21/2013 | 6:24 AM CDT
SE And SC MN. have allot less planted than that. Talk of prevented plantings are here. June 1st is the date. We are more like 35% planted . I question the number they just put out with all other states than us having moisture problems. This isn't just a small area and none of our corn has been planted in good conditions at all. Raining now and no let up in the future. We have had 3.5 days to plant and conditions were terrible. Look at the numbers, May 5th we started to lose yield and things have got worse. There will be acres not planted here. No beans planted here either. We usually have beans started by the 1st of May.
Bryce Anderson
5/21/2013 | 5:22 AM CDT
Thanks for the comments. USDA has factored in the late plantings in the May WASDE report, when projected corn yields declined from 163.6 Bu/A to 158 Bu/A. That follows the methodology that USDA researchers discussed at the Ag Outlook conference back in February. The biggest influence on yields is of course July weather. Using an ballpark time line of 7 days to emergence, the 41.8 million acres planted last week (43 pct of the corn crop) will emerge by the end of this week. And, using an estimated 70 days after planting for silking, you're looking at the July 29 time frame for silking of this big percentage of the corn crop.
Raymond Simpkins
5/20/2013 | 7:01 PM CDT
You are right late is late no matter how you look at it.And now we are dry, very dry.Corn and beans that are planted have not had any water since back in mid April.Chemicals are not working and fields are getting weedy. But yet I don't understand either how corn that should be knee high but yet is just a seed is now on track to a normal yield.
5/20/2013 | 6:17 PM CDT
The idea that this crop has "caught up" is a falsehood led by percentages. As you approach 100%, the progress has no where to go but catch up. The leaders have no where to go, except to wait and lead at the next measuring point. Barring an unusual amount of heat units from June 10 through July 15, this crop will be 10 days behind at every "major" measuring point. Emergence will be 10 days behind average, tassel will be 10 days behind, etc, etc. Unless there's heat to push things along, it still takes a relatively set amount of time for things to happen. So, either we have unusual heat early to push this crop, or this 10 day late crop would line up pollination with "normal" higher heat levels in mid-late July - either way, I just don't see how that suddenly, shockingly, all the weather premium should disappear from the market.