FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Reuters) - U.S. corn and soybeans should be moving on to the stage where emergence and crop conditions are the market’s focus, but many producers are still trying to get the crop planted in what has been the slowest corn planting season on record.
Midwestern growers, particularly in Illinois and Indiana, are extremely behind schedule in many cases, though some farmers are willing to plant corn beyond the crop insurance cutoff date, according to the Crop Watch producers.
Crop Watch 2019 follows one corn and one soybean field in eight major U.S. Corn Belt states, reporting on weekly progress as of Sunday. These are the same eight growers who participated in the 2018 version of Crop Watch. (tmsnrt.rs/2Waikwk)
Last year, the producers planted their corn fields between April 18 (Kansas) and May 24 (North Dakota). The 2018 soybean fields were planted between April 26 (Indiana) and May 29 (North Dakota).
Some of the 2019 fields have yet to be selected or planted because of the extreme setbacks.
This year’s U.S. planting delays have been caused by persistently wet weather on top of a record-wet off-season that saturated the soils. Farmers generally cannot plant seeds into overly wet soils because heavy equipment can easily get stuck. Once planted, the eventual roots may be too shallow to properly take in nutrients and moisture throughout the summer.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will publish national planting progress as of May 26 on Tuesday afternoon. Analysts predict progress at 63% for corn and 31% for soybeans, which would remain the slowest on record for corn and among the slowest for soybeans.
As of Sunday, the North Dakota producer had about 730 acres of corn planted out of a planned 960. None of the intended 1,030 acres of soybeans had been planted. The final planting date to receive full crop insurance benefits for corn was May 25 in North Dakota, but the grower said he would plant corn up to June 1 at the latest.
He estimates that roughly 70% of corn and just over 20% of soybeans have been planted in the area. He also notes that local farmers are not worried about soybeans yet because they can be planted later.
The Minnesota grower is the only one of the eight who has finished planting his 710 acres of corn and 460 soybean acres. He estimates about 90% of corn and 50-60% of the soybeans have been planted around the county. He says that June 10 is the historical final date that area farmers will plant corn, but with such wet conditions this year, they might not push that far. The crop insurance final planting date is May 31.
As of this weekend, the Nebraska producer had about 85% of his corn planted but reports heavy rains in the last 11 days. He estimates that 10% of his corn will be prevented acres and up to 20% will likely need replanting should it dry out in time. In the area, around 75% of the corn and 45% of the soybeans have been planted. In a normal year, all the corn and 90% of the beans would be planted.
He reports that despite the insurance cutoff date of May 25, he would likely push corn planting until about June 6 if needed.
The Kansas grower completed 97% of his corn acres before the recent heavy rains, and he will not finish the remaining acres due to the wetness. He has about 12% of his soybeans planted. Locally, he estimates that around 75% of the corn and 15% of the soybeans have been planted, though typically growers are done planting or very close by now.
The Crop Watch corn field was planted May 15 versus April 18 last year, and the bean field has not been planted yet. It was planted May 9 last year.
The Iowa grower had 90% of his corn and 70% of his soybeans planted by the end of the weekend, though in the area he estimates that about 80% of corn and around 45% of beans were finished. Even though the insurance cutoff date is May 31 for corn in Iowa, he said he would push corn planting until June 10 if needed. Anecdotally, the grower does not think any of the fields in the area look good right now.
As of Sunday, the Illinois grower had planted 600 acres of corn and 230 acres of soybeans out of the 1,000 and 1,050 planned, respectively. Only about 15% of corn and soybean fields in the area have been planted, and some growers have not yet started due to the wet weather. It is normal to have all planting wrapped up in this area around May 25.
The crop insurance cutoff date for full coverage is June 5 in most of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, and the Illinois grower said he would push corn planting to about June 10 if conditions allow. The Crop Watch observation fields were both planted May 18 versus April 29 for both last year.
The Indiana grower had 650 acres of corn and 75 acres of soybeans planted as of this weekend compared with the respective plan of 4,600 and 3,400 acres. He estimates that less than 5% of each crop are planted in the area, when normally corn should be done by around May 15 and soybeans around May 20. He also reports that he will plant corn up until June 15.
The Ohio grower plans to sow 600 acres each of corn and soybeans, and after this weekend he was done with corn but had 460 acres of beans to go. He estimates that roughly 70% of corn and 40% of soybeans have been planted in the area, but local farmers may be unlikely to plant corn much past June 5. The Crop Watch corn field was planted May 22 versus May 6 last year, and the soybean field has yet to be planted. It was planted May 9 last year.
Field photos and more information on Crop Watch 2019 can be found on Twitter using the hashtag #CropWatch19 or by following the handle @kannbwx
The following are the counties and states of the Crop Watch participants: Griggs, North Dakota; Freeborn, Minnesota; Burt, Nebraska; Rice, Kansas; Cedar, Iowa; Crawford, Illinois; Boone, Indiana; Fairfield, Ohio.
(The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a market analyst for Reuters.)
Editing by Matthew Lewis