U.S. corn planting progress advanced more than expected last week as producers in the western half of the Corn Belt stepped up planting activity significantly. Meanwhile, soybean planting continued to pick up steam, especially in the eastern Midwest.
USDA pegged planted progress at 53% as of Sunday compared with trade estimates that averaged 43% according to a survey done by Reuters News Service. The planting pace was the second fastest on record for April 29, behind 2010, when 60% of the crop had already gone in the ground by that date.
U.S. corn emergence advanced to 15% up from 9% a week earlier and the five-year average of 6%. The pace of crop emergence was also slightly ahead of 2010.
The biggest jump in planting activity came in the top growing state of Iowa where producers were able to plant 41% of their crop even though only 4.3 days were suitable for field work last week, according to the state office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Overall, Iowa producers had planted 50% of their crop by Sunday, ahead of the five-year average of 32%.
Producers in Minnesota and Nebraska also made fast progress last week, planting 37% and 32% of their corn crops respectively. Minnesota planting progress reached 48% by Sunday against a five-year average of 31%, with Nebraska progress at 44% versus an average pace of 23%.
Planting continued to progress far faster than normal in the eastern Corn Belt as well. In Illinois, 79% of the corn crop had been planted as of Sunday, 50 percentage points above the five-year average and only 2 points off the record pace of 2010. Illinois corn emergence was a record for the date at 34% versus an average pace of only 6%.
USDA pegged U.S. soybean planting progress at 12%, up from 6% a week earlier and ahead of the five-year average of 5%.
Soybean planting progress reached 28% in Indiana, compared with an average pace of just 4%, while Illinois producers had seeded 13% of their soybean acreage by Sunday against an average of only 2%.
The fast corn planting progress has reinforced market expectations for an early harvest, which could lead to significant deliveries of new-crop corn before the end of the old-crop marketing year. This was evident in the widening of the July/September futures spread in Tuesday’s trading session.
The early start to planting also favors strong yields as a smaller-than-normal portion of the corn crop will be subject to the yield penalties that are associated with planting after early May.
Final yields of course will still depend heavily on weather conditions this summer, however, the overall U.S. weather pattern appears to favor good if not great yields as the La Nina event in the tropical Pacific Ocean has ended and some weather models indicate a transition to El Nino conditions this summer. The El Nino weather phenomenon is generally associated with favorable growing conditions in the U.S. Midwest.