Farmers Wonder Whether Wet Fields Are Worth Replanting

June 11, 2015 02:28 PM
Farmers Wonder Whether Wet Fields Are Worth Replanting

Rain, rain and more rain in the lower Midwestern and Plains states is drowning what’s already been planted and keeping farmers from getting in the field. Couple the weather issues with low crop prices and many wonder if it’s worth it to plant, or replant, this late into the season.

“Every day after May 15, you begin to think about losing yields,” says Tommy Grisafi, a risk management advisor at Advance Trading Inc. “It gets real come June and if you plant too late, then you’re taking a chance with losing profits.”

Overall planting progress for 2015 has hovered around the five-year average for the U.S. Certain states have fallen behind their averages, though. As of May 31, Colorado, Texas, Kansas and Missouri are the furthest behind their five-year corn planting averages.

Colorado recorded its wettest May on record this year and pushed planting progress down from its 97% five-year average to 79%.

In Texas, from May 5 to May 30, at least one place was receiving 4” of rain a day. At this point in 2014, corn planting in Texas was done. This year, thanks to wet conditions, planting progress is at 86%.

Click on the Statewide Precipitation Ranks graphic below to see a larger version.


Since the calendar has flipped to June farmers are wondering if it’s even worth it to plant the remainder of their fields. From 1988 to 2014, on average, 28% of the U.S. corn acreage was planted late (after May 15).

“Late planting that exceeds the average by as little as five points would be expected to reduce the national average yield by about 1.5 bu. per acre,” says Darrel Good, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor in agricultural and consumer economics.

He predicts only 18% of U.S. corn acres will be planted late this year, which means 2.89 bu. per acre will be added to the average yield for the year. This will bring the yield expectation for corn in 2015 up to 166.9 bu. per acre, which is similar to USDA’s projection.

Delays in planting corn can seriously impact overall yield; the same is true for soybeans but to a lesser degree. Soybean planting is severely delayed this year in Kansas and Missouri and will require some replanting once conditions dry out, Good says.

“Overall, some negative impact on average yields might be expected, but yield prospects remain generally quite good for much of the country,” Good says.

If planting is delayed too long, some acreage won’t get planted and farmers will take advantage of prevent planting provisions of crop insurance, he adds.

Delayed planting is only one factor that affects yield prospects; the other factors, such as July temperature and amount of precipitation during critical growth stages, play an equally important role.

“No one is more powerful than Mother Nature,” Grisafi says, “but you can’t buy back time.”

How are fields looking in your area? See what other farmers are saying and share your own photos on AgWeb's Crop Comments section.

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