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Planting Progress: What We Do - and Don't - Know

Two consecutive weeks of drier weather gave producers more field days for planting progress. Iowa had 10.5 days of suitable fieldwork for the weeks ending June 9 and June 16; Kansas, 10.4; Nebraska, 10; and South Dakota, 9.3.

In the 18 states, USDA reports 92% of corn planted and 77 of soybeans planted as of June 19. By state:

State Corn planted Average Soybeans planted Average
Iowa 98 100 89 98
Kansas 96 99 74 82
Nebraska 98 100 91 98
South Dakota 78 100 70 98


However, be careful in interpreting these numbers, cautions David Widmar of Agricultural Economic Insights. Some farmers are switching crops during this period of delayed planting, identifying fields that can’t be planted, etc. Consider the impact of a farmer who intended to plant 100 acres of corn and 100 acres of beans, but now is switching 20 acres from corn to beans. Instead of being 80% finished, the farmer now is 100% finished with corn planting. Conversely, the 20 additional acres of soybeans might still be unplanted and not accounted for in USDA’s report on planting progress.

Widmar also cautions that USDA’s reduction in corn acreage and yields in its June 11 World Supply and Demand (WASDE) estimates can be misinterpreted as well. USDA always includes an assumption of some prevent plant acres.

“Our best estimate is a base rate of 1.6 million, plus a 3 million reduction from intended,” says Widmar. “So when you read a forecast for 5 million acres prevented, it doesn’t mean a 5 million reduction because a base number was already subtracted before the estimate in the WASDE.”

The next USDA number will be the June 28 planted acreage report, but even that will not be up to date. The survey is conducted during the first two weeks of June; decisions made in the final two weeks will be a blind spot for the report, Widmar points out.

Shift to beans?

Since soybeans have a later planting period, some analysts foresee the shift from corn to soybeans. But history doesn’t bear that out. Average prevent plant is 1.8% for corn and 1.2% for soybeans. Most often when one crop has higher prevented planting, both do. Click to view Widmar’s full report.

Other crops

Grain sorghum in the six reporting states is 69% planted, well behind the 81% that, on average, is planted by now. Kansas stands at 55% (average 71%); Nebraska 80% (94%); South Dakota 68% (84%).

Spring wheat planting is close to complete at 95% in the six states, just 2 percentage points behind average. South Dakota’s crop is 97% planted, also 2 points behind.

Winter wheat harvest is slow, with only 8% of the crop completed compared with a 20% average. The important Kansas crop is only 1% done, 11 points behind average. Nebraska and South Dakota farmers have not yet started wheat harvest, which is typical.

This week’s forecast for storms isn’t a harbinger of fast progress this week – and we are approaching the date when crops either get in the ground or go unplanted. It will take some time for the ending facts to be known.


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