U.S. farmers planted a huge amount of corn last week to make up for rain delays earlier in the season and by week's end more than 59% of the crop was planted, 1% ahead of the five-year average pace, according to Monday's USDA crop progress reports.
Soybean planting made rapid progress with 20% planted versus 5% the previous week and the 21% average.
Corn was the big story in the reports. Planting had fallen behind from the beginning as rain showers and cold weather sidelined farm equipment for much of April. But modern machines can plant a lot of corn in a very short time and that apparently happened last week.
In Iowa, the largest corn and soybean producer, corn planting jumped to 70% from a mere 23% the week before to put that state on par with the five-year average. Illinois, the No. 2 corn state, jumped to 78% planted from 43% the previous week and is now well ahead of the 53% average.
"Farmers planted a whole lot of ground last week, right in line with my expectation for corn. This shouldn't have surprised anyone, because growers put in more than 41 million acres last year during the peak week, May 19, when they covered 43% of their corn ground," said Bryce Knorr, Farm Futures senior grain analyst.
The 59% pace exceeded the 55% average planting pace expected in a Reuters poll, although some estimates were as high as 63%. The 20% of soybeans planted topped the average trade estimate of 17%, with some estimates up 25%.
Because of the season's late start to planting, U.S. corn emergence at 18% was behind the 25% average.
Soybean planting also surged in key states, with Iowa at 20% from the previous week's 1% to put it behind the 25% average. Illinois jumped to 26% from 3% and ahead of the 16% average, while Indiana rose to 23% from 3% to surpass the 22% average.
Winter wheat declines
Winter wheat in the central and southern Plains continued to deteriorate, hurt by extreme drought from Texas to southern Kansas. The crop was rated 30% good to excellent, 28% fair, and 42% poor to very poor. A week earlier, it was 31% good to excellent, 31% fair and 38% poor to very poor. A year ago, the crop was rated 39% poor to very poor.
Rain fell in Kansas over the weekend, which might prevent further damage to that crop, typically the nation's largest.
Overall, 44% of the winter wheat was headed, versus the 46% average. Kansas wheat was 46% headed, Oklahoma was at 90%, and Texas at 72%.
"Winter wheat ratings tumbled again, with more fields in the very poor category," said Knorr. "All the losses came in hard red winter wheat, with soft red winter wheat actually improving a little. Total winter wheat production fell another 22 million bushels, according to my model, with yields in Kansas off around 1.5 bushels per acre."
Soft red winter wheat fared better with Illinois wheat at 63% good to excellent from 62% a week earlier and Indiana at 68% from 63%, and Ohio at 55% from 50%.
Spring wheat was 34% planted and 12% emerged, versus the averages of 53% and 27%. North Dakota, the top producer, advanced to 11% planted from 5% a week ago but behind the 39% average.
Cotton planting advanced to 30% from the previous week's 16%, but trailed the 34% average. California and Arizona remained the leaders at 97% and 80%, with Louisiana at 77%.
Oats were 56% planted and 32% emerged, compared with the 79% and 62% averages. Sorghum was 36% planted versus the 33% average, while rice was 75% planted and 53% emerged versus the 73% and 58% averages.