Speedy US corn, soy farmers face return of rain delays

25.04.2017

More rains are on the way to test Midwest farmers, who used a dry window to good effect in accelerating spring corn and soybean sowings – outperforming wetness-beset wheat growers further north.

US growers planted 11% of their corn crop in the week to Sunday - equivalent to nearly 10m acres, an area the size of Switzerland - as a break in Midwest rainfall allowed them to play catch-up after a rain-slowed starting to the planting season.

The progress took corn seedings to 17% completion, only 1 point behind the average, and 2 points ahead of the figure that investors had expected.

For soybeans, US farmers had 6% of their crop in the ground, twice the typical pace, and well above the 2% figure that investors had expected, US Department of Agriculture data showed.

'Things can get done quickly'

The acceleration in corn plantings was spearheaded by Illinois, the second-biggest corn producing state, where growers planted 28% of their crop over the week to take total seedings to 34%, ahead of the typical pace.

Selected state corn sowings progress, change on week and (from five-year average)

North Carolina: 63%,+31 points, (-1 point)

Missouri: 46%,+29 points, (+7 points)

Illinois: 34%,+28 points, (+6 points)

Kansas: 21%,+12 points, (-7 points)

Iowa: 8%, +6 points, (-6 points)

Minnesota: 6%,+5 points, (-11 points)

US total (includes other states): 17%,+11 points, (-1 point)

Sources: USDA, Agrimoney.com

"Producers were able to make significant progress planting corn," USDA scouts in Illinois said, flagging help to farmers from rains at half the typical level last week, while the average temperature, at 58.5 Fahrenheit, was 3.4 degrees above normal.

Tregg Cronin at Halo Commodity Company underlined the help to farmers from cutting edge equipment, saying that "thanks to Precision Planting's new Speed Tubes, corn can be safely placed in the seed trench at speeds of 7.5-9.5 mph.

"At 7.5mph, a 16-row corn planter can plant 36 acres and hour, while at 9.5mph it can plant 46 acres of corn per hour.

"With corn planters are large as 120 feet, things can get done quickly."

'Rains should quickly return'

However, rains are expected to return to the Midwest potentially later on Tuesday, slowing sowings again.

"Rains should quickly return to the central and western Midwest, eastern Plains, and northern Delta mid and late week," said Don Keeney at weather service MDA.

"Those showers will once again stall fieldwork."

At broker Futures International, Terry Reilly said that the "next major rain event hits the Midwest Tuesday and Wednesday, bias lower Midwest and eastern Corn Belt.

"Another rain event is slated Friday into Sunday that could result in heavy rainfall."

Benson Quinn Commodities said: "Heavy rains are slated for the heart of the Corn Belt through this week.

'Standing water'

By contrast, weather maps show a drier spell until into the end of the week for the northern US, where persistent wetness has curtailed spring wheat sowings.

State spring wheat sowings progress, change on week and (from five-year average)

South Dakota: 75%,+23 points, (+19 points)

Idaho: 48%,+20 points, (-23 points)

Washington: 38%,+18 points, (-33 points)

Montana: 24%, +16 points, (-7 points)

Minnesota: 14%, +5 points, (-27 points

North Dakota: 9%,+3 points, (-13 points)

US total: 22%,+9 points, (-12 points)

Sources: USDA, Agrimoney.com

As of Sunday, US spring wheat sowings were 22% complete, up 9 points week on week but well behind the typical 34% figure for this time of year, USDA data showed.

In Idaho, where sowings were 23% off the pace, "northern areas were still very wet with frequent precipitation," USDA scouts said, adding that "there was still standing water in some low-lying fields".

'Losses were expected'

In Washington state, where farmers are furthest behind, "reports continued to indicate that most fields were still filled with too much water, preventing any fieldwork.

"Some losses were expected due to the late planting and early sowing failures."

Meanwhile, in North Dakota, the top spring wheat growing state, "cold soil temperatures and snow continued to slow fieldwork and planting progress".

In Minnesota, USDA scouts said that "lingering cool temperatures and wet conditions allowed for only 2.2 days suitable for fieldwork during the week.

"This marks the fourth consecutive week with less than three days suitable for fieldwork delaying planting progress behind the five-year average for all crops except potatoes."


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