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April 10, 2019

U.S. Spring Planting Weather remains Worrisome

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The weather last week across the Midwest was not very good. The soils in the central Corn Belt were already saturated before they received additional rains late last week. The weekend weather was warmer and finally more spring-like, but unfortunately for farmers in the central Corn Belt, the warmer weather was accompanied by more wet weather.

The forecast is calling for a "winter storm" later this week to bring in colder temperatures and maybe even snow from Nebraska across Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Any additional snow would be depressing for everyone who is anxiously awaiting spring. As far as the planting conditions are concerned, it does not make too much difference if the precipitation is in the form of wet snow or a cold rain, the important thing is that it will be another period of cold and wet weather at a time when things should be improving.

The news is better out of the Delta and the Southeast where corn planting is progressing at about a normal pace. Weekend rains put a halt to planting across the Delta, but good progress was made before the weekend rains. Texas is 53% planted (average is 51%), Louisiana is 96% (average is 83%), and Mississippi is 52% (average is 50%).

Corn planting has not progressed very far north into the mid-south and there has been very little if any corn planted in the central Corn Belt.

The USDA reported that 2% of the 2019 U.S. corn crop has been planted compared to 2% last year and 2% for the 5-year average. By the next report on April 15th, corn planting starts to get a little more underway when 3% was planted last year and about 5% for the 5-year average. So, let's wait and see how the planting progresses.

For now, I maintain my estimate that the U.S. corn acreage might increase 1-2 million acres to 90-91 million and that the soybean acreage will decline 2-3 million acres to 86-87 million. I also think there may be 3-4 million prevent plant acres this spring.

Every spring there are always questions about delayed planting resulting in lower corn yields in the U.S. The corn yields in Illinois for example, are generally not negatively impacted until the planting is delayed past about May 10th with the yield declines accelerating the further planting is delayed.

The bottom line is that farmers are concerned about the wet conditions across the Midwest, but there is still time to rectify the situation. It is always good to remember that U.S. farmers can plant about half of their corn with 7 good days of planting. In Illinois, I would not get overly concerned for about two more weeks. If we get to the fourth week of April without a significant improvement in planting conditions, then we can start to speculate as to the potential switching of crops, prevent plant acreage, and potential yield declines.