Wet weather and low temperatures delay crops
The most recent Crop Progress report showed the fickle nature of weather. Drought persists in the South Plains and the far West, while above-normal rains in the Corn Belt are resulting in flooding. Neither situation is working well for crops.
Corn plantings across the country have been severely hampered by weather. In 2012, the corn planting progress as of the week ending April 28 stood at 49 percent of the total crop. The fiveyear average for the same week is 31 percent. Compared to both of these numbers, this year’s corn planting has amounted to 5 percent of the expected total.
“This is one of the slowest planting rates in almost 30 years,” noted CME’s Steve Meyer and Len Steiner of the Daily Livestock Report.
Many of the top 18 cornproducing states still remain unplanted. The most recent information shows Michigan, Minnesota, the Dakotas and Wisconsin without a seed in the ground. Past years’ trends have all of those states at least at 12 percent by the same time, and much farther along during last year’s early spring.
North Carolina and Texas are the only states whose corn plantings this year are keeping pace with historical norms. North Carolina had 78 percent of its expected acreage planted, compared to the five-year average of 80, and Texas had 69 percent completed, which was on par with last year’s planting rate and just 1 percent behind the five-year average.
Last week’s unexpected snowfall which started on Wednesday added more moisture to already saturated corn states. According to Todd Hultman, DTN grains analyst, forecasts for this week are for drier, warmer weather which is hopeful for Corn Belt farmers. The DTN 4” Morning Soil Temperature map showed Minnesota and the Dakotas still well below the mid-50-degree soil temperature needed for corn.
The delay in plantings is approaching potentially problematic levels.
“Part of the challenge is that with the planting window becoming smaller, producers will find it challenging to plant all the corn they were intending to put in the ground back in March.”
According to the most recent Prospective Plantings report (March 28), planned corn acreage for 2013 is 97.28 million acres which is roughly the same as 2012’s planned plantings.
“The critical planting date for many producers is May 10 at which time, if plantings are further delayed, some acreage switching is likely from corn to soybeans,” predicted Andrew Gottschalk of Hedgers Edge.
Wheat and sorghum
Winter wheat headings and conditions, and spring wheat plantings were also suffering from low temperatures, weather, and slow plantings in many parts of the country. Compared to the five-year average of 29 percent of the winter wheat crop headed by April 28, this year the crop only stands at 14 percent. The crop’s condition is still lacking as well, with the crop split roughly into thirds along conditions: 35 percent at poor or very poor, 32 percent at fair, and 33 percent at good or excellent. The prior year break down was 10 percent, 26 percent, and 64 percent, respectively.
The taciturn nature of this spring has resulted in a number of surprise snows in some areas which has in turn caused unexpected freezing damage to the wheat crop.
“Given the freeze damage to wheat we would expect sorghum planting to increase on abandoned wheat acres,” opined Gottschalk.
The planting of spring wheat has been delayed considerably in the top six states for that crop. By the end of the week ending on April 28, 2012, 70 percent of the spring wheat crop had been planted. The five-year average for the same week is 37 percent. By comparison, only 12 percent of this year’s expected crop has been planted. The notable absence is Minnesota, which has yet to plant any spring wheat compared to the usual 41 percent in recent years on the 92 percent from last year.
Sorghum is the only feed crop which is keeping pace with its recent planting rate trends. At 27 percent of the anticipated crop planted, sorghum is exactly on the five-year average. The Prospective Plantings report for March pegged sorghum plantings for 2013 at 7.62 million acres, a 22 percent increase compared to last year. — Kerry Halladay, WLJ Editor