Column: Crop Watch: Farmers pleased with corn start; North Dakota still bleak

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Corn grows in a field outside Wyanet, Illinois, U.S., July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Acker/File Photo

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NAPERVILLE, Ill., May 23 (Reuters) - Many of the U.S. Crop Watch producers are reporting some of the best corn emergence they have seen in years, though soybeans have not yet hit their stride, and planting date plays a major role.

In North Dakota, the producer has not started planting crops but hopes to begin on Monday if the weather allows. However, he will not be able to plant all the corn acres he originally intended.

Crop Watch follows 11 corn and 11 soybean fields across nine U.S. states from planting through harvest. This is the fifth year for the project and participating producers will provide weekly updates through harvest.

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Crop Watch producers in the western Corn Belt including western Illinois reported efficient planting progress in their areas last week except in the Dakotas, where activity was spottier. Producers in southeastern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio said wet conditions slowed field work.

Four more Crop Watch fields were planted last week: the corn in Indiana and the soybeans in Ohio, South Dakota and western Iowa. That leaves just three of the 22 subject fields to be planted: Ohio corn and both North Dakota fields.

Most producers report that corn in their areas has emerged nicely and evenly, and the ones in Minnesota, eastern Iowa and western Illinois noted particularly excellent conditions. However, this largely has to do with favorable planting in the second week of May, which was warm and dry.

Many producers note that crops sown in the first week of the month, which was cooler and featured heavier rains, are not off to the best start. Many of those fields are soybeans. The western Illinois soybeans, planted May 2, will need to be replanted, hopefully on Tuesday.

Cooler weather will dominate much of the Corn Belt this week, keeping emergence somewhat slower. Scattered rains during the week will be helpful for the process, particularly in places like Iowa. Warmer weather expected for the following week should allow growth to take off.

Crop Watch corn planting dates
Crop Watch soybean planting dates


Overly wet conditions in North Dakota have led to one of the slowest starts to planting on record. For full insurance eligibility, the final date to plant corn there is May 25, though farmers are likely to plant a bit beyond that date.

The Crop Watch producer hopes to plant his corn field on Monday or Tuesday, but the best-case scenario is that he can plant 70% of the corn acres he intended.

He will attempt to plant soybeans or other crops on those lost corn acres before he decides to claim prevent plant, though at this point he thinks up to 20% of his total acres will end up prevented. The focus is on corn now and things are moving day by day in North Dakota, sometimes by the hour.

The North Dakota grower says that last week was probably the busiest for planting in his area so far despite the touch-and-go conditions. Progress could be decent in the first few days this week if rain holds off, but showers are possible for the weekend.

The producer does not know when he will get to soybeans, though he planted the 2019 and 2020 Crop Watch soybeans in the first week of June. He is hearing of some potential switching to spring wheat from corn in his area given how late it is getting for corn.

The following are the states and counties of the 2022 Crop Watch corn and soybean fields: Griggs, North Dakota; Kingsbury, South Dakota; Freeborn, Minnesota; Burt, Nebraska; Rice, Kansas; Audubon, Iowa; Cedar, Iowa; Warren, Illinois; Crawford, Illinois; Tippecanoe, Indiana; Fairfield, Ohio.

Photos of the Crop Watch fields can be tracked on my Twitter feed using handle @kannbwx.

Karen Braun is a market analyst for Reuters. Views expressed above are her own.

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Editing by Matthew Lewis

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