Weather to favour US spring wheat farmers - less so corn, cotton, soy

10.05.2017

A north-south weather divide, which allowed a rapid catch-up in US and Canadian spring wheat sowings, looks poised to return, maintaining wetness which has slowed corn seedings in some area to a crawl, and spurred winter wheat disease fears.

"Another storm system is expected to develop across the central Plains over the next few days, and should move into the central and southern Midwest and northern Delta mid and late week," said Don Keeney at weather service MDA.

"This will once again stall corn and soybean planting and will maintain some wetness concerns," with temperatures set to remain "cool" in the eastern Midwest too.

Commodity Weather Group said that the "south west Midwest is unlikely to see many needed breaks" in the weather needed to progress spring sowings of the likes of corn, cotton and soybeans.

'Spring wheat planting favoured'

However, Mr Keeney added that the northern Plains, the main US spring wheat growing area, will receive "limited showers and warmer temperatures" this week.

Selected spring wheat sowings progress by state, May 7, change on week, and (on five-year average)

South Dakota: 94%,+10 points, (+13 points)

Washington: 72%,+23 points, (-19 points)

Minnesota: 65%, +44 points, (+7 points)

Idaho: 58%,+9 points, (-33 points)

Montana: 46%, +13 points, (-16 points)

North Dakota: 45%,+27 points, (-4 points)

US total: 54%,+23 points, (-6 points)

Sources: USDA, Agrimoney.com

This "will favour spring wheat planting and early growth" of the crop – echoing the experience of last week, when farmers in northern states made strong progress with seedings, while peers further south and east struggled against wet conditions.

In North Dakota, the top spring wheat-growing state, farmers seeded 27% of their crop in the week to last Sunday, nearly catching up with the average pace, according to US Department of Agriculture data released overnight.

"Warm temperatures allowed for significant planting progress and some emergence," USDA scouts in North Dakota said.

Minnesota to Manitoba

Minnesota growers seeded 44% of their spring wheat, getting ahead of the average pace as "dry conditions towards the end of the week allowed for significant planting progress".

And the strong progress was noted in Canada's Prairie province of Manitoba too, where farm officials said that sowings of crops overall had advanced to 20-25% - from a figure of "less than 5%" a week before – although remaining behind the 48% figure achieved at the same point of last year.

"Warm, dry and windy weather conditions prevailed across the province allowing for favourable drying of soil surface," Manitoba officials said.

"Planting of cereal grains advanced the most. Field peas, canola and corn are also being planted."

'Need for significant replanting'

By contrast, in the eastern US Midwest, farmers in Illinois seeded only 2% of their corn crop last week, as rains averaging more than 4 inches "kept producers out of the field during the latter half of the week".

Selected corn sowings progress by state, May 7, change on week, and (difference from five-year average)

Illinois: 65%,+2 points, (+2 points)

Iowa: 52%, +24 points, (-3 points)

Indiana: 51%,+6 points, (+8 points)

Ohio: 46%,+4 points, (+8 points)

Minnesota: 35%,+23 points, (-20 points)

South Dakota: 32%,+25 points, (-11 points)

US total (includes other states): 47%,+13 points, (-5 points)

Sources: USDA, Agrimoney.com

In Ohio, where corn sowings progress slowed to 4%, "heavy rains continued throughout the week, preventing nearly all field work and leading to ponding in some fields", USDA scouts said.

"Growers are concerned that there may be need for significant replanting of corn fields due to the cold and wet conditions."

'Woefully behind'

And further south, wet weather hampered seedings notably of soybeans and cotton in the likes of Mississippi.

In cotton sowings, "the Mid-South region has fallen woefully behind the five-year average, with Louisiana being the only state in the region ahead of schedule," said Louis Rose at Rose Commodity Group.

"In fact, Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee comprised the majority of the US area that is behind schedule," curtailing the national cotton seedings progress figure to 21%, 4 points behind the average pace.

'High disease pressure'

Wet weather also offers a threat to winter wheat, which appears to have escaped relatively unscathed from the late-April storms which sent futures soaring, temporarily, last week.

Selected cotton sowings progress by state, May 7, change on week, and (difference from five-year average)

Louisiana: 68%,+17 points, (+19 points)

Alabama: 35%, +24 points, (+2 points)

Arkansas: 27%,+12 points, (-18 points)

Missouri: 16%,+2 points, (-26 points)

Texas: 16%,+3 points, (-3 points)

Tennessee: 7%,+3 points, (-10 points)

US total (includes other states): 47%,+13 points, (-5 points)

Sources: USDA, Agrimoney.com

The proportion of US winter wheat rated in "good" or "excellent" condition fell by only 1 point, to 53%, in the week to Sunday, with gains in the likes of Idaho and Oklahoma offsetting somewhat rating declines in states such as Illinois, Kansas and Nebraska.

However, thanks to wet conditions, "disease pressure will remain high for winter wheat in the central Plains," MDA's Don Keeney said.

University of Nebraska urged growers "to be vigilant in scouting their fields… because of the presence of stripe rust and leaf rust in the state, as well as increasing incidence and severity of septoria leaf blotch and tan spot".


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