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April 8, 2014

U.S. Spring Weather Continues to be Less than Ideal

Last week was not a good week for early spring field work. Heavy snows across the upper Midwest and heavy rains across the central and eastern Midwest kept field work to a minimum. This week should be a little better, but the longer range forecast for the rest of April does not look very encouraging with most models indicating that the temperatures will generally remain below average during the month.

An early planting of the summer crops in the U.S. of course is no longer possible. The next question is can the summer crops still be planted in the normal timeframe and you would have to say the answer is yes, at least for the time being. As long as the U.S. corn crop reaches 50% planted during the first ten days of May, the planting would still be considered more or less normal. Most people (including me) start to worry about corn being planted extra late if the planting stretches past about May 15th or May 20th.

The northwestern Corn Belt appears to be the region hardest hit by the continued "winter like weather." This is also the area where the crop acreage mix could swing the most, especially in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. The sequence for planting of the major crops in the region is: spring wheat first, then corn, and lastly soybeans. There are a lot of other crops planted in the region as well such as durum wheat, sunflowers, sugar beets, canola, small grains, dry beans, etc., but the market generally only cares about the big three which are spring wheat, corn, and soybeans.

It's currently cold and wet in the northwestern Corn Belt and very little if any field work has been done. I would say that it is still a little too early to declare that not all the intended spring wheat acres will be planted, but certainly that possibility is increasing. It is too early to say anything about corn plating in the region other than that farmers in the region have already indicated that they intend to plant less corn and more soybeans. If the weather does not start improving quickly over the next 2-3 weeks, there is a growing possibility that the corn acreage in the region may decline even more than indicated in the March Planting Intensions Report.

Having said that, the general trend over the past decade has been for the U.S. corn acreage to end up being higher than what was indicated in the March Planting Intensions Report. If the weather would improve during the second half of April and early May, that could still be the trend once again. If the current weather pattern persists through the month of April, then there is a low probability that the corn acreage will increase significantly from the March numbers.