Blogging by the Bushel
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For some farmers waiting to plant is like Santa coming early and then telling a young child they can’t open any of the gifts for a couple of days. It’s almost impossible to get them to wait! Even though today is the insurance deadline for at least Ohio, some farmers are still trying to balance their desire to plant corn early with concerns that weather conditions could turn cold and wet. Everything but the calendar says it’s time to plant corn. Even so, many Corn Belt farmers are already in the field with their planters.

The USDA released the first weekly Crop Progress report of the year this past Monday April 2nd. Because of the ideal weather in most areas through the bulk of March Traders were looking for corn to be 5-7% planted at this point, compared to 1-2% last year.  The USDA is reporting corn plantings at 3% as compared to 2% last year and 2% 5-year average.  The biggest drag on planting was Texas reporting 48% planted vs. 53% last year and 50% 5-year average.  Aside from slower than usual plantings in Texas we did see some states post progress numbers that we would not expect to have started planting this early in the season.  Some standouts being:  Illinois at 5%, Indiana at 1%, Missouri at 7%, Michigan at 2%!?! Nebraska at 1%, Ohio at 1% and Tennessee at 15%.

The trade expectations may have been a bit optimistic however. If the current forecast holds we could be set to see a huge jump in planted acreage in short order.  Texas will get planted, and this report reflects the fact that conditions WERE ideal, but not everywhere. I know some farmers did elect to plant earlier, but they did not go full bore. They planted 60 acres here and 40 there, knowing the potential risk.  Potential upsides to planting early: corn has the opportunity to emerge, get a strong start and pollinate ahead of high temperatures and dry conditions. Potential down sides to early planting are the risk of frost and/or a prolonged cold snap. If you have looked at the extended forecast tonight and into the weekend it is leaning more to the downside potential than upside.

For my brave friends in Michigan who have started planting corn, please call me as I would love to buy you lunch!  HoRah! For now, my personal opinion is to wait. All the benefits you get by planting now you’ll still get through much of April.  But as we have seen this year has been very unique and it’s only April 5th so anything may go.

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