CONSULTANT: 97.3 MILLION PLANTED CORN FIGURE 'HIGH-WATER MARK'... No pun intended, but crop consultant Dr. Michael Cordonnier says USDA's 97.3-million-acre corn planting projection made on March 28 will serve as the "high-water mark" given prospects for severe flooding in the Red River Valley in eastern North Dakota, western Minnesota and parts of South Dakota. USDA projects 19 million acres will be planted to corn in these three states.
Dr. Cordonnier estimates between one and three million acres of corn in the northwest Corn Belt will be switched to another crop. "In the worst-case scenario, the non-planted corn acreage might be as high as five to six million acres, but I think it is way too premature to be talking about those types of numbers yet," he says.
A Pro Farmer Member from east-central South Dakota tell us, "We have 8-10 inches of snow on the ground from last week's ice and the forecast is for 6-10 inches of snow on Wednesday. Lows have been in the low 20s and highs in the low to mid 30s I just hope it rains this summer after this all melts."
Dr. Cordonnier says it's still too early to assume intended corn acres in the central and southern states will be switched to other crops, but if too-wet conditions persist for another two weeks in southern areas, more acres will be moved away from corn.
FORECAST STAYS COOL AND WET... The National Weather Service (NWS) forecast for April 22-26 calls for below-normal temps across the entire Corn Belt, while all but the far western and extreme eastern areas of the region are expected to see above-normal precip. The NWS forecast for April 24-30 keeps the below-normal temps in the outlook, although the intensity is lowered from the 6- to 10-day outlook, while the area of above-normal precip is reduced to northeastern Iowa, far northern Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
This forecast doesn't bode well for much fieldwork across the bulk of the Corn Belt before the end of the month. If this forecast verifies, corn planting would be sharply behind the average pace when the calendar flips to May.
CONSULTANT RAISES BRAZIL'S CORN CROP PEG... Dr. Cordonnier raised his estimate of Brazil's corn crop after generous rains last week boosted safrinha corn crop development across much of central Brazil. He says about 95% of the crop is rated "good" and 5% is "average." The earlier planted crop is in the grain-filling stage and should have enough moisture to finish the season with good yields. "The later-planted crop is in pre-pollination and will still need another 4-5 weeks of adequate moisture before the yields are assured," he says.
Dr. Cordonnier raised his Brazilian corn crop by 1 MMT to 75 MMT. "I probably would have increased the estimate even more had it not been for the drier forecast going forward," he says. "The estimate could still move higher if the rains return to Mato Grosso and if there are no cold spells in southern Brazil during May or early June."
Dr. Cordonnier left his Brazilian soybean crop estimate at 81.5 MMT and he does not anticipate any significant changes going forward.
Dr. Cordonnier also made no changes to his Argentine soybean and corn crop estimates, which stand at 50 MMT and 24 MMT, respectively. Click here for Dr. Cordonnier's South American crop estimate table.
DETAILS ON IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL... On Tuesday, the Senate's "Gang of Eight" released its comprehensive immigration reform legislation framework. Some highlights from the proposed bill include:
- The Homeland Security secretary must submit within 180 days a $4.5-billion plan for surveillance systems, fences, drones and other means to gain "effective control'' of high-risk southern border areas -- meaning at least 90% of people attempting to enter illegally are apprehended or turned back.
- At that point, illegal immigrants could register for provisional legal status, allowing those who have lived in the U.S. since Dec. 31, 2011, to work for any employer and travel outside the U.S., but they would not be eligible for federal benefit programs. They would be required to pay a $500 penalty, assessed taxes and a processing fee. People would be disqualified if convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors, among other grounds.
- Permanent residency status couldn't be granted until the Homeland Security secretary and other officials declare the border goals to have been met. However, the bill also says people can apply for permanent status after 10 years.
- All employers would be required to use the federal E-Verify system to detect illegal workers after a five-year phase-in period, and a system must be in place to track people with visas as they leave the country.
- Some agricultural workers and some people brought to the U.S. as children could get green cards in five years. The bill would create a visa for foreigners starting new companies in the U.S. It would increase the number of H-1B visas for highly skilled workers but would require employers who rely heavily on those visas to pay higher fees.
- The bill would create a new "W" visa for low-skilled workers. A new agency would set the annual cap for W visas based on employment conditions and labor shortages.
CANADIAN FARMLAND VALUES RISE 10%... The average value of Canadian farmland rose 10% during the second half of 2012, according to Farm Credit Canada (FCC). That rise follows gains of 8.6% and 6.9% in the previous two six-month reporting periods. The current national average increase of 10% is the highest percentage gain since FCC began reporting on farmland values in 1985. The second highest increase occurred in the first half of 2012, at 8.6%. The last time the average value decreased was by 0.6% in 2000. Click here for more from LandOwner Editor Mike Walsten.