UPDATE 1-US corn plantings beat estimates, soy seedings lag

Mon Jun 6, 2011 5:52pm EDT

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* US corn plantings 94 pct done, above estimate of 93 pct

* Soy seedings 68 pct complete, below guess of 69 pct

* Spring wheat 79 pct planted

* Winter wheat harvest 10 pct complete

(Rewrites throughout, adds analyst quote, comments from state reports, byline)

By Michael Hirtzer

CHICAGO, June 6 (Reuters) - Warm and dry conditions provided a window for farmers in the eastern U.S. Corn Belt to catch up on corn plantings last week but seedings remained behind schedule, especially in Ohio where only about half of the crop was in the ground.

The U.S. Agriculture Department late on Monday put corn plantings at 94 percent complete, below the five-year average pace of 98 percent, leaving about 5.5 million acres (2.2 million hectares) of the projected 92.2 million yet to be seeding.

A Reuters poll of 10 analysts early on Monday pegged corn plantings at 93 percent.

(Graphic: r.reuters.com/gar79r)

A break in the weather saw plantings in Ohio jump to 58 percent complete on Sunday from 19 percent the previous week, but the pace was still lagging the five-year average of 99 percent complete this time of the year.

Sunday was the deadline to plant corn in Ohio and other states in the U.S. Midwest for farmers seeking full insurance protection under preventive planting policies.

Farmers can still plant corn but their insurance coverage declines incrementally each day following the deadline.

Weather this week is forecast to remain mostly favorable for spring plantings and farmers are likely to take advantage of the opportunity, said Jack Scoville, analyst at brokerage The Price Group in Chicago.

"I still think we'll see farmers try to plant as much as they can for a while longer. We'll have a chance to get most of the rest of crop in," Scoville said.

Soybean plantings were 68 percent planted, down both from the average guess of 69 percent and the normal pace of 82 percent. [US/SOY]

Spring wheat plantings were 79 percent done, off the five-year average pace of 98 percent. [US/WHE]

Seeding in North Dakota, the top spring wheat state, was 69 percent complete, lagging the five-year average of 97 percent.

"Though many fields are still muddy, the warmer, dryer weather allowed farmers in most areas to make progress with spring fieldwork," the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service's North Dakota field office said in a statement.

The winter wheat harvest was underway, with 10 percent of the crop combined as of Sunday, compared with the five-year average of 6 percent.

Farmers in Oklahoma had harvested 45 percent of the crop, well ahead of the five-year average of 21 percent.

In Texas, the top winter wheat state, 24 percent had been cut, ahead of the five-year average of 21 percent. (Additional reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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