East-West Crop Disparity

May 27, 2009 07:00 PM

Linda H. Smith, Top Producer Executive Editor
This week, USDA reported corn planting up 20 percentage points--to 82% complete, compared with the 5-year average of 93%. "But this masks the difference between areas west versus east of the Mississippi River,” points out Jerry Gulke, Strategic Marketing Services. Illinois corn is only 62% planted, he says, the lowest in history and 34 percentage points behind average. Indiana is 55% planted and also 34 percentage points behind normal. "In all, there 15 million acres of corn remain unplanted,” says Gulke.
What the Weatherman Says
In today's QT Weather newsletter, Allen Motew, QT Meteorologist, says the southern Corn Belt is still seeing too much rain hampering fieldwork and causing havoc for farmers.
"Despite a recent week of ‘warmth,' growing-degree-days remain below normal (May 1 start) for most of the Corn Belt,” he notes. "Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri show the largest deficits while Ohio, Nebraska and a small portion of Indiana show a small surplus.”
Motew predicts the wet weather will continue during the next few weeks and temperatures will average below normal. "This will keep farmers out of the fields and further keep growing-degree-days low and slow to accumulate,” he says.
Another problem is developing with 2.5 million acres of corn not planted in northern states—the Dakotas to Michigan, adds Gulke. "With additional rains in those areas this week, it will likely be too late to get much more planted there---unless the corn varieties with a much shorter growing season are used. This usually leads to much lower yields. Beans may start to see more switching out of northern corn and wheat as well. With 2.5 million acres of wheat and 2.5 mil acres of corn not planted in those northern states, we could see more beans--the only question is the prevented-planting payments on the insurance programs offering a payment without the risk and cost of late-planted beans.”
Bean planting progress moved up 23 percentage points, to 48% complete (versus 65% average) – but this also has huge divergence east to west, Gulke points out. "Illinois is only 12% planted versus 80% in Iowa, as an example. There is plenty of time to get beans planted but a yield drag starts to show on beans planted beyond this date.”
There's a lot of discussions regarding yield drag, says Gulke It is created in corn due to delayed pollination into the potential heat of the summer---if heat does not materialize, the risk is eliminated. Same for the potential of an early frost. Same can be said for beans---potential of problems goes up a notch on the delays.
The map below shows the acres yet to be planted by state in spring wheat, corn and beans.

(click to enlarge)

You can e-mail Linda Smith at lsmith@farmjournal.com.

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