Trade Resources Industry Views Corn Belt Planting Window Closing for 10 More Days

Corn Belt Planting Window Closing for 10 More Days

If farmers in the Corn Belt can get through the next 10 days or so, it should be time to plant corn like crazy.

That's if the latest forecast for the region, one that shows lingering moisture is going to keep a lot of fieldwork and planting activity sidelined through the next week or so, holds.

Spring fieldwork's already pretty far behind normal in the Delta, mid-South and southern Corn Belt as planters march northward; farmers in states like Louisiana and Georgia are almost at half the point they normally are with corn planting progress, and as the "normal" planting dates start to blow by in parts of the South, some are already switching to soybeans in an effort to take better advantage of the normal planting window for that crop versus its normal rotational partner.

"I think that many farmers in the Delta and Southeastern U.S. will switch from corn to soybeans if they can not get the corn planted by the end of next week," says Kluis Commodities market analyst and grain broker Al Kluis. Data from MDA Weather Services and USDA show farmers in Louisiana have planted just 67% of that state's corn compared to the average pace of 93% planted by this week. In Mississippi, just over 1/3 of the crop is planted versus the "normal" pace of 57% by this time.

"Corn planting remains well behind schedule across most of the U.S., thanks to saturated soils across the Delta and southern Midwest. In most cases corn planting is also behind last year’s pace, especially across the southern Delta and Southeast," says MDA senior ag meteorologist Kyle Tapley. "Wet weather this week across most of the Midwest and the Delta will prevent significant planting progress, especially in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. Only the south-central Plains will see favorable conditions for corn planting over the next several days."

Corn Belt Planting Window Closing for 10 More Days -- Forecasters

As far north as Kansas City, at least a trace of rain has fallen in 8 of the last 10 days, a timeframe that's seen more than 3 1/2 inches fall in Memphis, Tennessee. The activity forecast in that region makes the delays spurned along by rainfall amounts like these something of a certainty, Tapley says. (image at right courtesy MDA Weather Services)

"Corn planting is already behind the 5 year aver-age in most areas and the wet forecast for the next 10 days will certainly maintain delays in most areas. The chart below shows that for many areas in the Midwest and northern Delta, where corn planting should be ramping up significantly, rainfall is expected for 8 of the next 10 days," he says. "Of the next 10 days, the only day with widespread dry weather across the Corn Belt is expected to be this coming Saturday."

The silver lining to the clouds building in the Midwest and mid-South regions is that temperatures won't slide much, and the gradual warmup should help keep soils warming until the planting window does eventually open. But, longer-term, the concern becomes whether that warmup will get a little too warm further along into summer after the spring rains subside.

"Overall, the forecast looks generally favorable for corn and soybean development, but not as ideal as last year given the potential for dryness across the northwestern portions of the corn belt. The biggest risk to the forecast is the potential for drier than forecast conditions across the western Corn Belt, especially given the current soil moisture deficits found across those areas," Tapley adds. "These drier risks would be accompanied by hotter risks across western portions of the corn belt, but widespread and persistent heat and dryness would seem to be a rather low probability this summer, given the likelihood of a weak to moderate El Nio."

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Corn Belt Planting Window Closing for 10 More Days -- Forecasters