Farmer seeding crops at field

Planting: Good progress but still behind

Thirty-nine percent of the corn crop was planted as of May 6, USDA reports. The five-year average for this point in the planting season is 44 percent.

The states in our service area are among those running late: Iowa has 40 percent planted (average 48); Kansas, 47 percent (only one point behind average); Nebraska, 42 percent (46); and South Dakota 6 percent (33). Thirty-nine percent of the corn in the 18 reported states has emerged; average is 44 percent.

Soybeans, on the other hand, are slightly ahead of average — 15 percent vs. 13 percent in the 18 states. Iowa has 12 percent planted compared to the average of 11 percent; Kansas 8 percent (5); and Nebraska 16 percent (12). As with corn, South Dakota is lagging — just 1 percent of its soybeans are planted compared with an average 7 percent.

2018 trend yieldsGrain sorghum in the 11 reported states is right on its 20-percent average. Kansas has 1 percent planted, average for the state. Meanwhile, Nebraska, at 3 percent, is half its usual 6 percent at this time.

Spring wheat is 30 percent planted, compared with the usual 51 percent in the six reported states. South Dakota has 51 percent of its crop in vs. its average of 78 percent.

Winter wheat lags

Winter wheat is slow in development. Only 33 percent of the crop in 18 states has headed vs. an average of 4 percent. The Kansas crop is only 19 percent headed vs. a 41 percent average; Nebraska reports none headed vs. 3 percent on average.

USDA’s overall winter wheat condition is 37 percent poor/very poor against 34 percent good/excellent. The important Kansas crop is half in the lower categories and just 14 percent in the upper categories. South Dakota is in somewhat better shape at 11 percent poor/very poor and 30 percent good/excellent, while Nebraska is in good shape, with only 7 percent poor/very poor and 61 percent in the upper categories.

First yield estimates

This week’s USDA World Supply and Demand Estimates will provide the first official estimate for 2018 corn and bean yields. The long-term trend since 1960 was been an increase of 1.86 bu./acre/year – and we have had four consecutive years of above-trend corn yields, according to Purdue University ag economist David Widmar. For 2018, trend yield is 169.3 bu., according to Widmar.

Looking back at history since 1960, he organized departure from trend by the largest number of bushels under trend to the largest number above trend – minus 35 to plus 17 bu./acre. Notice there are more plus years than minus years (the black line between 1989 and 2000 in the table breaks years into 29 years on each side).

“Historically, yields have been above trend 60 percent of the time,” said Widmar.

He observes that 10 bu. or more above trend (180 bu. this year) have occurred eight times, or 14 percent of the time, and more than 9 bu. below trend (160 bu. this year), nine times, or 16 percent of the time. So quite a range is certainly possible in 2018.

“As you hear discussions of yields, keep in mind the average for corn is nearly 170 bu., and a range of 160 to 180 is possible,” Widmar said. “The high end of that range would be devastating to markets.”