June 4, 2019 / 9:53 AM / 3 months ago

Column: Crop Watch - Planting progress still slow in the east, quicker in N. Dakota

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Reuters) - Wet weather continued to plague U.S. farmers last week, especially in the Eastern Corn Belt, as planting progress for corn and soybeans likely failed to advance as much as needed given the already slow pace. The Crop Watch growers in Indiana and Ohio did not report that much progress had been made.

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

However, the North Dakota producer reported that recent planting progress in the area exceeded his expectations, and the Kansas grower’s fields have finally enjoyed a stretch of dry days.

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.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will publish national planting progress as of June on Monday afternoon. Analysts predict progress at 71% for corn and 42% for soybeans, up from 58% and 29% a week earlier, respectively. This would be the slowest on record for corn and the second-slowest for soybeans.

EAST CENTRAL NORTH DAKOTA

The North Dakota producer finished planting his corn fields on Saturday and then turned to planting soybeans. He reports that tons of planting had occurred in his area over the past few days, and that the recent progress was more than he had expected based on how the fields looked a week ago.

Last week he predicted that roughly 70% of corn and just over 20% of soybeans had been planted in the area, but he believes most growers can finish up by midweek if the rain holds off.

SOUTHERN MINNESOTA

The Minnesota grower reports that field work was pretty much nonexistent in the area last week due to some heavy rain events. He estimates about 90% of corn and 60% of the soybeans have been planted in the county, roughly the same as last week. Area growers started back up on Sunday after three days of dry weather, and the forecast looks favorable for continued progress in the coming days.

He also reports that although it is later than preferred, beans planted this week in southern Minnesota can still achieve good yields.

NORTHEAST NEBRASKA

Last week, the Nebraska grower estimated around 75% of the corn and 45% of the soybeans have been planted, and as of Sunday he predicted corn was around 85% complete and soybeans 50%.

The rains resumed on Monday morning, which may sideline area farmers for another couple of days. These rains will also prevent the producer from planting any more corn, even though he said last week he may push to June 6 if needed.

CENTRAL KANSAS

As of Sunday, Central Kansas was on its sixth day without rain and field work had started to resume. He estimates that corn planting is around 90% complete in the area, up from 75% a week ago, but growers may have planted only 70% of the intentions. Most of the lost corn acres are expected to go to sorghum instead of prevented plant, which arises when farmers cannot plant an insured crop within the time frame specified in the insurance policy. He estimates about 30% of beans are planted, up from 15% a week earlier.

The observation soybean field has yet to be planted but it was sprayed with herbicide on Sunday. The field should be planted early this week if it does not rain. The Crop Watch soybeans were planted May 9 last year.

EAST CENTRAL IOWA

Wet fields likely prevented drastic planting progress in eastern Iowa last week. The Iowa grower estimates about 80% of corn and 60% of soybeans had been planted in the area last week, which would be barely changed from the previous week on corn and up 15 points on soybeans. The latest forecast suggests the return of wet weather after Monday and that could make this week another slow one for field work.

The Crop Watch corn field was planted April 21 and the soybeans on May 16, and the grower says they are both in good shape for now.

SOUTHEAST ILLINOIS

As of Sunday, the Illinois grower estimated at most 30% of local corn and soybean fields had been planted versus 15% a week before. It is normal to have all planting wrapped up in this area around May 25. He reports that progress should be good early this week as rains may hold off until Wednesday, but some fields were still unfit for planting.

The Crop Watch observation fields were both planted May 18 versus April 29 for both last year. The grower reports that the soybeans are looking much better than the corn at this point.

CENTRAL INDIANA

Extremely wet conditions prevented rapid planting progress in Indiana last week. The Indiana grower estimates that about 15% of corn had been planted in the area versus 5% a week earlier. He estimated the soybean progress at about 10% versus 5% a week earlier. Many local growers will be pushing hard on Monday and Tuesday to beat the expected midweek rains, but many fields are still wet. Despite the crop insurance cutoff date of June 5, he is still willing to plant corn up until June 15.

CENTRAL OHIO

The Ohio grower finished planting his corn a week ago, but he still had close to 60% of his soybeans left to plant as of Sunday. He reports that his area did not do a lot of planting last week due to wet weather. He estimated last week that roughly 70% of corn and 40% of soybeans had been planted in the area and that had not changed much as of Sunday. Weekend rains would likely ground farmers in his area until about Wednesday or Thursday, but any more rain until then will cause even further delays. Anecdotally, he reports that many spots in northern Ohio are worse off than the south.

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 states and counties 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

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