Farmers in parts of the Corn Belt continue to struggle against wet conditions, though fields began to dry out over much of the nation’s growing region last week.
The end of the third week of May marks a crucial milestone for corn planting: The market typically assumes the crop is off to a decent start if 85% of the nation’s fields are planted now. USDA reported 75% planted as of May 15, and that total should pass the 85% benchmark in this afternoon’s update after drier skies and warmer temperatures emerged last week.
Storms over the weekend focused coverage south of the Ohio River. That hurt farmers who were behind in Kentucky, but was just what the doctor ordered in Tennessee, where fields have been dry.
“Planting has stopped in our area,” a Kentucky farmer reported last week, though USDA reported 82% of the crop there planted last week.
But to the south a Tennessee farmer said the rain was welcome. “Good moisture here,” the grower reported, rating both corn and soybean fields in excellent condition.
Farmers reporting Feedback last week said conditions were about the same as during the second week of May, when conditions were below average overall for both corn and soybeans.
Wheat fields continue to improve. Growers rated both winter wheat and spring wheat in mostly good or better shape, matching the assessment from USDA’s drop raters. The latest vegetative health index also showed winter wheat improving last week, according to Farm Futures geospatial analysis.
Warmer and drier conditions should also help corn, though USDA won’t issue condition reports until 50% of the crop has emerged in key states. Farm Futures analysis showed 74% of the corn ground had above normal soil moisture at the end of last week, down from 82% in the second week of May. A little more below average moisture emerged in the Dakotas while the area from eastern Iowa into southwestern Wisconsin and northern Missouri slipped below average. But rain improved soil moisture in eastern Kansas.
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Feedback from the Field - May 11, 2016 - It's deju vu all over again as wet weather continues
Feedback from the Field - May 9, 2016 - Weather challenges farmers in eastern Midwest
Feedback from the Field - May 3, 2016 - Growers say wet weather stalls planting
Feedback from the Field - May 2, 2016 - Some crops off to slow start as wet and cold hamper planting