An east-west Corn Belt divide in the rapid pace of US sowings progress looks likely to narrow this week, with rains which have been hampering fieldwork in eastern states switching to western areas.
US growers sowed 36% of their corn crop in the week to Sunday – equivalent to an area the size of Greece, and even more than the 31% that investors had expected, and a record for the time of year.
“The jump in plantings was the largest for this week in our recorded history, beating out a 35-point increase in 1987,” said Terry Reilly at Chicago broker Futures International, if noting that it was not the biggest progress recorded ever.
“The record week on week increase for corn planting progress was 43 points,” achieved in May 1992, he said. A 43-point figure was achieved in May 2013 too.
‘Ideal conditions prevailed’
The strong performance – which took plantings to 55% complete, ahead of the average of 38% by now – was particularly marked in western Corn Belt states such as Minnesota, where US Department of Agriculture scouts said that “ideal conditions prevailed, allowing rapid planting progress”.
At 83%, farmers had “the second highest amount planted by this date in 30 years”.
In neighbouring Iowa, the top producing state, farmers planted more than half their crop last week, the best performance in more than 20 years.
“Dry weather allowed Iowa farmers to make excellent progress in spring planting,” USDA scouts said.
‘Just getting under way’
Progress was much less marked in eastern Corn Belt states, such as Indiana, where farmers had 21% of their crop in the ground as of Sunday, 14 points behind the average pace.
In Ohio, farmers are 15 points behind the pace, and in Kentucky by 27 points.
“Eastern Corn Belt states such as Indiana are just getting under way” with sowings, Mr Reilly said.
‘Not as favourable’
However, with fields in these states drying out last week, thanks to drier weather which is expected to last into this one, “excellent progress is expected this week as more land dries out”, said USDA staff in Kentucky.
At broker Benson Quinn Commodities, Nicholas Sax said that “weather forecasts offer a break this week and planting is expected to rapidly pick-up” in the eastern Corn Belt.
The improved prospects for eastern Corn Belt sowings contrast with rains which are expected to hamper sowings further west.
“US weather conditions this week for corn planting progress will be not as favourable as last week,” Futures International’s Mr Reilly said.
“The five-day weather outlook appears to be very wet for the far north western Corn Belt states.”
Weather service MDA said that “increasing showers will slow planting in north western and central [Midwest] crop areas this week”.
Soybeans and wheat
The wetter weather may slow plantings of soybeans, which are typically planted a little later than corn, although after a strong start.
As of Sunday, US farmers had 13% of their soybeans sown, above the typical 9% by then.
However, it looks a boon for the spring wheat which has been sown into dry soils in the north western Midwest and northern Plains, in the hope of moisture to speed crop emergence.
“In terms of planting progress, recent dryness in the northern Plains has been a benefit,” Minneapolis-based Benson Quinn Commodities said.
“These same areas are counting on beneficial rains through the middle of this week with some activity lingering into the weekend.”
Farmers had planted 75% of their spring wheat as of Sunday – up 20 points week on week, and well ahead of the average of 40% completion by then.
(Source – http://www.agrimoney.com/news/rains-to-slow-us-spring-sowings-after-bumper-week–8294.html)