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."
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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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