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April 12, 2017

U.S. Spring Planting Underway, Tepid Start in Southern Corn Belt

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

In early March it appeared that the U.S. planting season would get off to a quick start with warmer than normal temperatures and relatively dry soil conditions. Recent wet weather thwarted the early planting across much of the Corn Belt, but the weather has now improved and U.S. farmers are poised to start their spring planting.

The weekly Crop Progress Report released on Monday afternoon indicated that 3% of the 2017 U.S. corn crop has been planted compared to 4% last year and 3% average. Several weeks ago, the corn planting was progressing about a week ahead of schedule due to rapid planting in the southern locations, but the planting has now slowed to an average pace. In the southern Corn Belt, corn planting is getting off to a tepid start with Missouri 5% planted (average is 12%), Kentucky 4% (average is 9%), and Kansas 4% (average is 8%).

In the Corn Belt, early corn planting should get underway sometime this week. The planting may start earlier in the western Corn Belt where the recent rains have been lighter than in the eastern Corn Belt where the rains have been heavier. The second week of April is generally the normal time for many farmers to get started planting corn. In fact, in many areas of the central Corn Belt, the crop insurance does not start to cover corn planting until April 10-11. If farmers plant before that date, they may not be covered for problems incurred during planting. So, I would say the U.S. corn planting is getting off to about an average start.

There has been one benefit from the recent wet weather. It has gone a long way to recharging the dryer soils in the southern Corn Belt areas of Missouri and southern Illinois. The soils in that region had dried out during February and March, but those issues have largely been resolved.

Before anyone gets concerned about a potential delay in planting, corn planting delays generally do not start to be a concern until planting is delayed until late April. Each year, American farmers seem to be able to plant their corn at an ever rapid pace. American farmers can plant about half of their intended corn acres within a 7-day period of ideal weather. The general rule is that we like to see 50% of the corn planted by the end of the first week of May. Corn yields in the central Corn Belt do not start to decline until planting is delayed past about May 15th.

At the start of the growing season, it is always good to remind ourselves the relative importance of the various production areas in the U.S. Below is a table reflecting the acreage reported in the Prospective Plantings Report issued in March 31st. This table only reflects acreage and not the total production.

When I was compiling the list, what really struck me was that North Dakota is now ranked fourth in soybean acreage. Wow! In fact, I went back and double checked the acreage to make sure that was correct.

Ranking of 2107 U.S. Corn and Soybean Acreage
RankStateCorn Acreage Acres% TotalStateSoybean Acreage Acres% Total
1Iowa13,300,00014.7Illinois10,200,00011.3
2Illinois11,300,00012.5Iowa10,100,00011.2
3Nebraska9,550,00010.6Minnesota 8,250,0009.2
4Minnesota8,000,0008.8North Dakota6,900,0007.7
5Indiana5,600,000 6.2Indiana6,000,0006.7
6South Dakota5,400,0006.0Nebraska5,700,0006.3
7Kansas5,200,0005.7Missouri5,650,0006.3
8Wisconsin4,000,0004.4South Dakota5,400,0006.0
9Ohio3,550,0003.9Kansas5,000,0005.5
10North Dakota3,300,0003.6Ohio5,000,0005.5