April 26, 2016
U.S. Corn Planting is 30% Complete, well Ahead of the 16% Average
The weather was generally favorable last week for planting and farmers in the U.S. have planted 30% of their 2016 corn crop compared to 13% last week and 16% average. Soybean planting got underway as well with 3% of the soybeans planted compared to 2% last year and 2% average.
There were some very impressive corn planting numbers this week. Farmers in Missouri have planted 81% of their corn compared to 17% last year and 31% average. The corn planting in Minnesota is 45% compared to 31% last year and 11% average and it is two weeks ahead of the average pace. The corn in Iowa is 40% planted compared to 12% last year and 9% average.
Last Saturday we took a short drive through northern Illinois and the farmers were very actively working ground and planting corn. Farmers in Illinois have planted 42% of their corn vs the average of 25% and there was actually some dust being kicked up by the tillage equipment, which was a little surprising. We did not see any corn that had emerged, but a lot of corn had been planted. It looked to me like the soil was working up very nicely. The forecast for this week is calling for wetter weather across the central Corn Belt with several chances for rain and cooler temperatures, so the planting progress will slow down somewhat this week.
With a relatively quick planting pace and recently improved prices, there has been a lot of speculation what this might do for acreage for both corn and soybeans. I think the biggest impact on acreage might be from the reduced amount of prevent plant this spring. There are some saturated conditions in the western Corn Belt, but very little saturated areas in the central and eastern Corn Belt. Unless we get into a prolonged period of wet weather, I think there could be 1-2 million more acres of row crops this year compared to the last two years. This could result in additional acres of both corn and soybeans.
Last week, I indicated that I thought the corn acreage might be in the range of 93.0 to 93.6 million acres. This week, I would say that I am more toward the upper end of that range. Last week, I also indicated that I thought the soybean acreage might be in the range of 83.0 to 83.5 million acres and I am now also on the upper end of that range as well.
Many farmers have indicated that the soil is working up very nicely this spring which is important for good uniform germination and high plant populations. It is certainly much better than the last two years when saturated conditions led to an uneven start for the corn crop.
A good early start for the corn is important for its yield potential. The weather later in the summer will determine the final yield, but there is a higher probability of good yields if the crop gets off to a good start. Therefore, I am a little more optimistic concerning the 2016 U.S. corn crop then I was several weeks ago. Several weeks ago, I thought the U.S. corn yield might be 162-163-164 bu/ac. Given normal weather during the summer, I would now estimate the 2016 U.S. corn yield in the mid-160s bu/ac.
Having said that, it looks like El Nino seems to be fading quickly with many models indicating a weak or moderate La Nina by June-July-August. If the transition to La Nina is quicker than expected or if the La Nina is stronger than expected, then my corn yield predictions will be "out the window" and we will probably be looking at much lower corn yields.
Getting soybeans planted extra early has little impact on the soybean yield potential. As long as the soybeans are planted by mid to late May, it is the weather during July and especially August that will eventually determine the soybean yields. A soybean crop can look very ragged early in the summer and yet still turn out to be very good if the weather cooperates in July and August.