Will Corn Acres Be Enough?

04:38AM Apr 30, 2011
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Water flows south in the U.S. As water continues to accumulate in the farm fields of North and South Dakota, it’s flowing south and bringing concerns about the 2011 corn crop with it.
As rains persist across the Midwest, and snow is even expected this weekend in North Dakota, fears are mounting that corn acres may not be enough this year, says Jerry Gulke, president of the Gulke Group. That concern starts in the Dakotas, where it was anticipated 35% of the four million-acre increase in corn production would come from. This puts pressure on their corn-producing brethren to the south, who are also experiencing their own planting delays due to continued cold and wet weather.  
For now, markets are reacting wildly to weather conditions. On Thursday, the forecast was for drier weather and the grain markets tumbled. On Friday, rains reentered the forecast and they shot back up. Gulke’s weather consultant is now saying two more weather systems are bearing down on the Midwest and more rain is expected.  
"We’re running out of delay days. We keep looking 10 days out and then we look another 10 days out. we’re running out of time when we can get this crop planted in a timely fashion.
"We have problems in the Dakotas now where water is standing in fields and you don’t get rid of that when the ground is saturated like that on flat ground. I think a lot of traders think from history that we get some dry weather and farmers rally to cause and plant 40% in one week. They don’t understand that being delayed vs. planting into muddy soils is altogether different. That water is going to have to be evaporated."
In the March 31 Planting Intentions Report, USDA projections were for an additional 4 million corn acres. North and South Dakota accounted for 1.4 million acres. Gulke gives the reminder that those numbers were intentions and he now believes that one million acres of that planned increase won’t be planted.  
"I’m beginning to wonder whether we can even meet last year’s planted acres, let alone the increase totally. So that begs the question of whether we can warm up quick enough in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota, where they do plant a lot of corn to make up that difference and plant another million acres. Certainly the incentive for corn profitability is there."
However, he points out that each of the major Midwestern corn producing states already intended to plant additional corn acres this year. That leaves added pressure on the major corn producing "I" states and Minnesota.
"There are some respected university people from Iowa State, Illinois and Purdue, who are saying our chances for a normal crop are dropping fast."