May 8, 2017

Slow Planting in U.S. could result in Lower Corn Acreage and Yields

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

As of this past Monday, the planting of the 2019 U.S. corn crop was 23% behind the 5-year average pace (23% planted in 2019 compared to 46% for the 5-year average). Given the unfavorable weather forecast for this week, the corn planted percentage next Monday may be 25% or more behind the average pace.

If these delays persist, they could result in increased prevent plant acreage and potentially lower yields. At this point, I would estimate that we could have 4-5 million prevent plant acres in 2019. If the weather does not improve soon, that 4-5 million could be the minimum and it could go higher from there. There will probably be more prevent plant acres for corn than for soybeans and we could also get some prevent plant acres from spring wheat as well.

The prevent plant dates for corn in most of the Corn Belt varies from about May 25th to June 5th depending on location. The prevent plant dates for soybeans varies from about June 10th to June 20th, also depending on location. At the current low grain prices, farmers might be more than willing to cash a check from the insurance company instead of risking planting a very late crop.

As far as yields are concerned, it is always a risky proposition to estimate corn yields this early in the season because we all know that the summer weather can offset the potential negative impact from late planting, but the May 1, 2019 edition of "farmdoc daily" from the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois made some very interesting observations.

They indicated that when the amount of late-planted corn is more than 10% above average, the chance of above trend yields is 17% and the chance of below trend yield is 83% and the average deviation from trend yield is -6.1 bushels per acre.

They also indicated in a prior report (April 24, 2019), that when the surplus soil moisture in the Corn Belt is more than 30% on April 22nd, the amount of late planted corn will end up being 9.6% greater than average. The amount of surplus soil moisture in the Corn Belt was greater than 30% on April 22nd. Therefore, on April 22nd, the soil moisture was at the point where you would expect the amount of late planted corn to be more than 10% above average, My guess is that the current surplus soil moisture could be even higher than what it was on April 22nd.

The bottom line is that the authors felt the current conditions across the Corn Belt would justify a lower projected U.S. corn yield in 2019 of 170.0 bu/ac and I would tend to agree. The USDA is currently projecting the 2019 U.S. corn yield at 176 bu/ac.