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April 30, 2019

Record Late-April Snowfall across Portions of the Midwest

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

A very unusual weather system over the weekend produced record snowfall for this late in the season across southern Minnesota, northern Iowa, Wisconsin, and northern Illinois. Chicago received 2.5 inches of snow on Saturday. The heavy wet snow added to the already wet conditions and there is more rain forecasted for this week as well. They also received snow across the far northwestern Corn Belt over the weekend. The snowy weather was certainly an unwelcomed site for farmers who were already struggling to start their spring fieldwork.

As of Sunday, the 2019 U.S. corn crop was 15% planted compared to 15% last year and 27% for the 5-year average. The corn planting has started to creep northward with most of the planting progress in the western and southwestern Corn Belt. Kansas is 31% planted (average is 36%), Missouri is 45% planted (average is 55%). Even Iowa got some corn planted at 21% (average is 26%).

Corn planting is slower in the eastern Corn Belt with Illinois 9% planted (average is 43%), Indiana is 2% (average is 17%), and Ohio is 2% (average is 13%). Very little corn was planted in the northwestern Corn Belt with Minnesota at 2% (average is 24%), South Dakota is 0% (average is 11%), and North Dakota is 1% (average is 7%).

The 2019 U.S. soybean crop was 3% planted compared to 5% last year and 6% for the 5-year average with most of the planting occurring in the Delta.

The 2019 U.S. spring wheat crop was 13% planted compared to 9% last year and 33% for the 5-year average. The spring wheat planting in North Dakota is of particular concern because if the farmers are unable to plant wheat, they may claim prevent plant or switch to another crop which would probably be soybeans. The North Dakota spring wheat crop is 5% planted compared to 3% last year and 21% for the 5-year average.

The forecast is calling for more cold and wet conditions across the Midwest into early May. After the heavy rains forecasted for this week, some areas are really going to be saturated. As planting continues to be delayed, it makes it harder and harder to anticipate the eventual 2019 U.S. crop acreage.

I currently anticipate that the 2019 U.S. corn acreage will be 90-91 million acres compared to the 89.1 million acres planted in 2018. For soybeans, I currently anticipate that the 2019 U.S. acreage will be 86-87 million acres compared to the 89.1 million planted in 2018. These estimates could certainly change going forward depending on the weather. I think in the end, we could get less corn planted than anticipated and more soybeans than anticipated, but the acreage of both corn and soybeans will also depend on the amount of prevent plant acres.

As planting continues to be delayed, there are always questions about the impact on yields from delayed planting. According to Prof. Emerson Nafzinger from the University of Illinois, the average corn yield in the state of Illinois is maximized if the corn is planted in late April or very early May. If the corn is planted after that time period, the average yield starts to decline. According to his studies, the corn yield response to date of planting is as follows:

  • Maximum yield if planted in late April or early May.
  • Planted May 10th - yield declines 5%.
  • Planted May 20th - yield declines 9%.
  • Planted May 30th - yield declines 14%.

For soybeans in the state of Illinois, the maximized yield is achieved if the soybeans are planted in late-April. The soybean yield response to date of planting is as follows.

  • Maximum yield if planted in late April.
  • Planted May 1st - yield declines 2%.
  • Planted May 15th - yield declines 7%.
  • Planted May 30th - yield declines 12%.
  • Planted June 10th - yield declines 18%.