2011 crop planting progress is slow, confusing

So, the market once again is hanging on the USDA Crop Progress Report for fundamental news that can move the prices. And, Monday afternoon after the close, we got the numbers to trade off for the next week.

As expected, the American farmers did what they are good at doing, which is running day and night when they can and sleeping next winter. The results were mixed, and a little confusing.

On the whole, we are now 63 percent planted, which is gaining on the average of 75 percent. Last week, we were at 40 percent, so the gain is not as much as some thought it might be.

Ohio way behind

The Ohio results are vastly different, however. We are at 7 percent, up from just 2 percent last week. Our average is 70 percent, so we are only a tenth done compared to a normal year.

To make things worse, we are remembering last year when we were 83 percent done by now. I had expected us to be more like 30 percent done, so this is a surprise for me, if not for the market as a whole.

Northeastern Ohio certainly gained more than this, but we might have been the bright spot. There was good progress in the northwest in some areas, but maybe not what I thought, since they are disproportionately a heavy influence on the numbers. There must be some townships in Wood County that produce as much corn as a small county here.

So, now what, market?

This leaves Ohio farmers with some marketing confusion. The excuse was to sell nothing because the crop was not getting planted and prices had to go up. Now it is just us that are not getting planted. What is the plan now?

The danger has always been that the prices would crash as soon as the forecast was good, not as soon as the Planting Progress Report said we were winning the weather war. Then, to add to the confusion, we have no idea when we hit the field again.

We have continued to have five days of rain forecast ahead of us. That changed this morning when the report suggest Friday and Saturday would be sunny. Two days of sun will get us to where only the low spots still show standing water. Of course, we had a bad forecast last week, and ended up with four clear days in a row for most of us.

Soybeans

While corn is being planted, some are planting beans. In general, the soybeans get planted after corn, but the U.S. has run in 22 percent of the bean crop, two-thirds of normal. Even Ohio has 3 percent planted this week, which is officially the first planted. Of course, normal for us is 44 percent.

So, where does that leave soybean prices? You can argue that corn will see some acres lost to beans. But, the beans are going in late, so may have the yields hurt by muddy planting and late maturity.

Price movement

It is hard to see delayed planting on the charts, where we have been sharply lower on corn and beans most of the last month. Producers have been shocked, (shocked!) that the gambling that has been going on with not pricing grain has not paid off.

Looking at price movement is discouraging. The old and new corn had been a dollar apart, but that is closing to more like 60 cents on a given day. This reflects the concern switching to the new crop and the new USDA estimate of carryout getting bigger.

July corn futures lost a buck in a month, from 7.82 1/4 on April 11th to 6.66 on May 12th. We have rebounded to 7.04 here on Monday/Tuesday overnight trading. Say the rebound comes off a disappointing progress report and anticipation of the report.

Meanwhile the soybeans lost most of a buck from May 2 at 14.02 July to 13.07 1/2. We are only back to 13.30 3/4, mostly because delayed corn planting is bad for beans.

About the Author

Marlin Clark trades producer and elevator grain from an office near Andover, Ohio for Town & Country Co-op. You can reach him for comment at 440-293-4055. More Stories by Marlin Clark

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