Spring planting could finally be on a roll

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flooded field
A flooded field in northwest Ohio.

Meghan Trainor famously sang to us that “It’s all about the bass.”

This week, for the farmers, it is all about the rain.

Planting in Ohio had been stopped since this time last week. At that time, I speculated that, with the forecasts we were seeing, it could be the middle of the month before planting got started again.

In fact, the rain went out of the forecast, we sneaked through between drops a couple of days, and the crops are going in.

It’s that time of the year again, when farmers say they can sleep in December. In Ohio, the planting really got rolling at the end of the week, so the current progress is under-reported in the USDA numbers released Monday afternoon, May 15.

Making progress

They reflect planting as of Sunday night, and we are way past that now. Ohio corn planting is reported officially at 49 percent, up from 46 the week before. I bet we are really more like 70 percent or better here on Tuesday morning, May 16.

Last year at this time we were only at 33 percent, but the average is 57. For the nation, we have corn planting officially at 71 percent, up from 47 the week before.

Last year Ohio lagged, but the nation was at 73 percent this week, and the average for the nation is 70 percent at this time. Soybean planting has lagged, as the emphasis has been on catching up the corn.

In Ohio we have 19 percent of the crop planted, just up from 16 last week. Last year we were only at ten percent, but 27 percent is the five-year average. The nation is reported at 32 percent planted, up from 14 last week.

Weather events

Last year the nation was on a fast-roll, with 34 percent for the week, just above the 32 percent average. The bad news for Ashtabula County is that a big storm just came over the lake and caught us and the northern tier of Trumbull County.

On the radar it looks like the rest of the state is clear, but the forecast would indicate that we are moving back to rain later in the week.

The Midwest got rained out May 15. This will hold up the finish of planting and point us to a race to the prize the end of the month.

All in all, we are probably getting an average year. The grain markets have never acted like traders feared late planting.

The national planting has maintained pace and local problems have been ignored. Now, it would appear that the market has been right.

Back on track

Unless the late-week rain continues for another week, we will be on track for another big crop. At this time of year the market always assumes a big crop unless there are events to the contrary.

For corn, this would mean two big crops in a row, with South America aiming a big second crop at us. This is why, even In the wet spells, we have not really reacted to the brief planting delays.

July corn futures have gained a little recently, but are just in the middle of an 18-cent range defined by the recent low at $3.60 3/4 on April 21, and the recent high of $3.79 on May 1.

We have a strong line of resistance around that $3.79, with the last three highs at $3.79 1/4, $3.79 1/2, and $3.79.

Hmmm, seems like a pattern. Soybeans have a pattern that is sideways in a small range. The November, especially, is defined by strong support around $9.60.

Six times in recent days the low has been close to $9.60. The only breakout was one lone spike to $9.80 on May 10.

We are currently, on Tuesday morning, at $9.70 1/2 November futures.

Wheat futures

July Chicago wheat futures have been erratic, but cheap lately. We had a low on April 25 at $4.16. The spike higher came on May 2, at $4.61 1/2, fueled by late winter weather than buried western Kansas with snow and froze out some wheat.

Those damage worries moderated over the next few days, and we were back to a $4.21 1/2 low as of May 15. Overnight the fear is back, with the USDA Crop Progress Report showing a decline in wheat condition.

This week was reported at 51 percent good and excellent, off from last week’s 53 percent. Last year, for comparison, we were at 62 percent, in a great year.

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Marlin Clark trades producer and elevator grain from an office near Andover, Ohio for Centerra Co-op. He welcomes comments at 440-363-1803.

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