Crop planting race nears the end

The fast planting pace has become the planting race, with corn near the end and soybeans half done, but twice as fast in the U.S. as normal.

The American farmer is grinning ear to ear as corn planting nears an end.

Ohio is now 84 percent planted; 58 percent of the crop is actually emerged. To me, that is a more-important number. A warm May is more important than early planting. Often we plant it the last week of April and don’t see it until the last week of May.

Two years ago, we had a warm May and we learned how some of the Midwest grows high-yield corn. The end of May, the corn was knee high, and we had record yields.

Looking at history, Ohio was at 79 percent last week, so the rain kept us from finishing. Last year, we were only at 6 percent, so count your blessings. The average is 51.

The U.S. as a whole was 87 percent planted, up from 71 the week before. The year before was 56, and average was 66 for this time of year.

Worth 1,000 words

A picture on the Monday afternoon wire from Country Hedging shows how far ahead some farmers are. It shows an ear of corn from Dill Farms in Shreveport, La., that has kernels on it. They won’t be harvesting this week, but the picture is a shocker.

Soybean sprint

The U.S. soybean planting pace is nearly at twice the historical average. We are 46 percent done, and 24 is normal. Last week we were at 24, so a lot of acres have been covered. Last year was only 17.

Ohio is also at 46 percent planted, but we did not gain much for the week. We are just up from 35 percent.

Remember last year? We were at 2 percent planted, and no one knew where those acres were. Ohio’s average for this week is 21 percent.

Market reaction

While planting is fast, the market has gone down fast. Soybeans were down six of the last eight days. Both beans and corn have dropped hard.

This is the week that May futures expired, and I am glad to be rid of them. We traders have to hedge in the July after late April, and it has been hard to explain our bids to farmers who don’t know that.

May futures have been as much as 40 cents higher than the July as this inverted market continues. The inverse has pointed us to cheaper prices for months, even while farmers have been reluctant sellers, hoping prices would turn higher again. Now we have had a big correction, and the farmers are hiding out in the fields, hoping things are better when they get done planting.

On this break, the July futures hit a low of 5.72 1/4 on Friday, after a high April 30th at 6.34 3/4. That is a drop of more than 62 cents, and defines “ugly.”

We are bouncing a little today. The overnight trading was up more than a nickel, closing at 5.88 1/2.

The December futures, still much lower with new crop acres expected to be the highest in nearly 80 years, are 5.10 1/2 coming out of the Tuesday morning overnight trading session. We had a low of 4.99 on that ugly Friday.

The July soybean futures hit the high on May 2 at 15.12 1/2. The low was Monday, at 13.76. The fact that the close that day was 13.87 was encouraging, but it is hard to be positive about losing a buck and a quarter and more in less than two weeks.

The November futures are not hugely lower as in corn because we are looking for smaller planted acres than normal. So, the new crop high was 13.94 1/2 on the November futures. The low Monday was 12.93 1/2 on that ugly break. I keep using that word.

The soybeans are showing a rebound on the Monday/Tuesday overnight of 17 3/4 cents to 13.44 1/2 November.

Follow this bounce to a selling opportunity. Any better prices for awhile on corn and beans come at the expense to the farmer of poor growing conditions. We don’t really want higher prices if that is the price to pay to get them.

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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