Planting-mania: Farmers catch up in a hurry

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American farmers combined good weather, big equipment, and a general lack of sleep to catch the planting season up in a big way this past week.

Corn planting moved to 71 percent for the U.S. as of Sunday, May 19, and that was up from a measly 28 percent last week. Last year at this time we were at 95 percent in an early season. The five-year average is 79 percent planted.

Ohio farmers were a large part of that, with our planting now actually well ahead of the 58 percent average pace. Ohio is estimated to be 74 percent planted for corn, up from 46 last week. Last year we were at 93 percent at this time.

Other major states made big progress to bring the average up, Led by the ā€œIā€ states. Iowa went from 15 percent to 71 percent in a week. (How many 32-row planters are there in that state?) Illinois went from 17 percent to 74. Indiana added 34 percent onto the slow 30 of last week.

Soybeans little slower

The emphasis was on corn, and the soybean acres show it. There we lag badly, with the U.S. at 24 percent planted versus the 42-percent average. Last week we were only at 6 percent, but last year we had in 71 percent by now.

Ohio is actually a leader in the bean race, however. Even as we were getting ahead of average in the corn race, we got to 45 percent of our beans planted. The average for now is just 33 percent. Last week, we only had in 16 percent, although we were at 71 percent this time last year.

Late or not late?

How serious is the late planting? Depends upon the source of the opinion.

The trade has not been all that concerned, if you go by the charts. Corn has been mostly sideways, with large ranges on knee-jerk days. Soybeans have seen the significant gains.

Meanwhile, ag economists talk that we could see the corn acreage down 2 to 4 million acres, and yields reduced by 6 to 8 percent.

Hold your britches

Philosophically, I have to agree with the trade on corn production right now. What we know is that two of the last five years we have planted corn late, for little penalty.

Two years ago, much of northeastern Ohio was planted the first week of June, and we had record yields.

The weather from here on out is more important than the weather the last two weeks of April.

Besides, we are now not really late. Maybe we are a week off the ideal, but that may not matter, depending on weather patterns in June.

We have become obsessed lately about April planting, when that really only helps yields by making sure we are done by May 10 or so. Seems like it always rains the second week of May, so if we are not early, we end up being late.

Market mum

The market has reacted from day to day about planting and rain, but the trend has been sideways while the farmers thought it should go up.

That should scare us, especially with new crop corn being so cheap compared to the old. July ā€™13 to July ā€™14 futures is about a buck discount right now.

Monday we had good gains during the day, with the July contract over 6.60. The recent high was the end of April at 6.69. The closer we got to the end of the day, the more the trade seemed to anticipate good planting progress. We ended the session at 6.49 1/2.

Tuesday morning we are down over 14 cents.

The soybean market, however, has used the planting non-progress as one reason to rally. We have gained $1.25 since the third week of April on the old-crop soybeans. The 24th we were at 13.41.

The high Monday was 14.66, although the early Tuesday market has us down a couple at 14.63 1/4.

I am of mixed minds about the soybean planting. We used to think that beans could be planted in June, but the trend has been to planting as early as the corn for the big yields. I have to think that the late planting now really matters.

It is confusing that analysts are talking about 2 to 4 million corn acres being switched to beans, but the bean market is still strong. I fear that the change this week will be that we will start to worry about bean acres.

We are near the old highs on soybeans, and are ready and ripe to drop prices.

So, farmers should be cleaning up old corn on the reality that late planting did not rally corn and now the news is negative to prices in the absence of bad weather.

Also, the rally in beans mean those should be cleaned up, also. Of course, I am a cash grain trader and want to buy grain!

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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