Persistent rains have left US farmers have an area nearly half the size of Belgium left to plant with soybeans, with the ideal sowing window closed – although the rainfall did not slow wheat harvesting as much as thought.
US farmers had seeded 96% of soybeans as of Sunday, up just 2 points week on week, and at a time when plantings have usually virtually finished, US Department of Agriculture data showed.
Considering overall sowing expectations, the unseeded area represents some 3.5m acres, many of which are unlikely to get planted at all given that the ideal sowings window has closed, with farmers in major growing states now able to claim so-called “prevent plant” insurance on lost area.
Indeed, the extent of lost seedings may yet provoke further short-term strength in soybean futures, said Kim Rugel at Benson Quinn Commodities.
“With 3.5m acres of beans still to plant and calendar and sunlight hours pushing up against optimal plant dates, bean [prices] could find a floor of support,” Ms Rugel said.
In fact, soybean futures eased in early deals on Tuesday, undermined by weakness in corn and wheat, and by separate USDA data showing that the soybean crop failed to deteriorate last week as investors had expected, holding a rating of 63% “good” or “excellent”.
‘Precipitation and flooding’
The delay to sowings was particularly evident in Missouri, which has long suffered from excess rainfall, where farmers had completed only 73% of soybean plantings as of Sunday, up 11 points week on week but well behind the typical figure of 97%.
“Precipitation and localised flooding continued to limit fieldwork across many areas of the state,” USDA scouts said.
By contrast, in Kansas – where sowings were, as in neighbouring Missouri, earlier limited by persistent rains – growers got 8% of crop in the ground to take plantings to 94% completion.
USDA scouts noted “limited rainfall” in Kansas, “with totals of one inch or less were received across the state”.
However, in Illinois too, the top soybean-producing state, 5% of soybeans remained to be planted at a time growers typically have just 1% left to sow, and with the seeding pace slowing to a crawl.
‘Break in the rains’
The slow progress in late soybean sowings contrasted with a better-than-expected pace of winter grains harvesting, including in Illinois, where growers reaped nearly one-third of their winter wheat crop last week to reach 69% completion.
“With limited days available for fieldwork producers were still able to advance wheat harvest by 31 percentage points,” USDA officials said.
In neighbouring Indiana – also a soft red winter wheat, rather than hard red winter wheat, state – growers harvested 21% of their crop to take completion to 39%.
While “several winter wheat fields are still too wet to be harvested”, a “break in the rainy weather along with mild temperatures” boosted farmers ability to get onto fields, to apply fertilizer to spring crops too.
‘Catching up fast’
In Kansas, the top US wheat-producing state, and a grower of hard red winter wheat, harvest progressed by 31 points to 79% complete, only a small distance behind the average pace.
The overall US winter wheat harvest reached 55% completion, up 17 points week on week, and above the 51% figure investors had expected – although still behind the average of 59% by now.
“The US winter wheat harvest is catching up fast,” said Richard Feltes at broker RJ O’Brien.
Winter wheat harvesting is in fact related to soybean sowing, in that some southern Midwest farmers plant the oilseed as a follow-on crop on land vacated by the wheat harvest.
These so-called “double crop” soybeans are expected to account for 6% of soybean sowings this year, including 9% in Kansas and 10% in Missouri, official data last week showed.
(Source – http://www.agrimoney.com/news/rains-leave-us-soy-sowings-unfinished-but-fail-to-slow-wheat-harvest–8549.html)