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April 10, 2013

Cold Spring Temperatures Delays Start of Planting in Midwest

Very little corn has been planted in the Midwest due to the persistent cold temperatures this spring. For corn to germinate, the soil temperature four inches down needs to be approximately 54 degrees and very few areas across the Midwest have warmed up to that temperature. Some planting progress may occur this week, but it will probably be limited due the forecast for heavy rains this week especially in the eastern Corn Belt and a return of cold temperatures at the end of the week. It looks like it might be late this week or next week before the planters are rolling in full force across most of the Midwest.

Across the far northwestern Corn Belt, it doesn't look like planting will occur any time soon. There is still a heavy snowpack across much of North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota where they received some snow again over the weekend and there is more snow in the forecast. Unfortunately, the farmers in North Dakota may be in for a problematic spring regardless of how the weather develops over the next several weeks. A quick warm up would result in a fast snow melt increasing the possibility of massive flooding along the Red River in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota. If the temperatures warm up slowly, it would take longer for the snowpack to melt and the start of planting could be delayed even longer than what is already expected.

Under ideal conditions, American farmers can plant approximately half of the corn crop in a seven day period, so it's too early to say for sure that the 2013 corn crop is going to be planted later than normal. At this point, I would still give it a 50-50 chance that the corn will be planted during the normal planting window, but it's going to be a close call. Certainly, if we run into a week or two of wet weather in late April or early May, the corn crop is going to be planted later than normal.