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May 14, 2019

2019 U.S. Corn 30% Planted, Soybeans 9% Planted

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

U.S. farmers made limited progress planting their 2019 crops last week, but they are still far behind the average pace. The 2019 U.S. corn crop is now 30% planted compared to 59% last year and 66% for the 5-year average. This represents an advance of only 7% for the week. The most rapid planting progress last week was once again in the western Corn Belt. Not much corn was planted in the eastern Corn Belt and limited progress was made in the northwestern Corn Belt.

In the western Corn Belt, the corn in Iowa is 48% planted (average is 76%), Nebraska is 46% (average is 72%), and Kansas is 46% (average is 57%). In the eastern Corn Belt, the corn in Illinois is 11% planted (average is 82%), Indiana is 6% (average is 57%), and Ohio is 4% (average is 47%). The situation is not much better in the northwestern Corn Belt with South Dakota 4% planted (average is 54%), North Dakota is 11% (average is 43%), and Minnesota is 21% (average is 65%).

Farmers will have a few days this week to plant before more rains move in later in the week and over the weekend. The one positive development this week is that the temperatures will be warming up. Corn planting this week might advance another 15% if we are really lucky, which would put the corn planting next Monday at 45%. Next Monday is May 20th and the U.S. corn crop might be less than half planted by then. If the forecast verifies, that could push at least half of the corn planting into the last third of May when the average yields really start to decline.

The 2019 U.S. soybean crop is 9% planted compared to 32% last year and 29% for the 5-year average. Soybean planting advanced only 3% last week. The most advanced soybean planting is in the Delta as you would expect. Soybean planting made modest gains in the western Corn Belt with very little planted in the eastern or northwestern Corn Belt. Soybeans can be planted later, so I am not going to worry too much about the soybeans for the time being. The 2019 U.S. spring wheat is 45% planted compared to 54% last year and 67% for the 5-year average.

These planting delays pose three important questions - how many acres may eventually be claimed as prevent plant, what will be the final U.S. acreage of corn and soybeans in 2019, and how will the delays impact potential yields. The prevent plant dates for corn are generally between May 25th and June 5th for most of the Corn Belt. The soybean prevent plant dates are generally between June 10th and June 20th.

Given the forecast, we might get 5-6 million acres or more of prevent plant this spring with corn the most likely to be claimed as prevent plant followed by spring wheat and then soybeans. As a result, the 2019 U.S. corn acreage could end up below 90 million acres. Some of those corn acres could be switched to soybeans of course. The 2019 U.S. soybean acreage could end up being 88-89 million acres, but all these acreage estimates are just wild guesses.

A trend line U.S. corn yield of 176 bu/ac is now very much in doubt given the delays in corn planting. At this point, I think a more reasonable yield estimate would be 170 or maybe even as low as 160 bu/ac, with the caveat that the summer weather will be the final determining factor. I think it is too early to make any judgement concerning the potential soybean yields.