Ohio farmers making good planting progress

Corn planting
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics do not reflect the current pace of planting, but it feels like farmers in northern Ohio are catching up planting over the last few days.

I caught some neighbor brothers on a field change a few days ago, and they told me they had made great progress recently. We worried that the forecast that day was for four days of rain.

Well, the four days have passed, and we have sneaked through with just one late-day sprinkle. The forecast for today, May 10, is for scattered showers, but only a trace of precipitation for extreme northeast Ohio.

If that holds, many local farmers could have the bulk of their acres planted. This is not at all what the official USDA Planting Progress Report shows, but that is as of Making progress. Sunday, May 8, and I think the numbers are too low for our area.

USDA says that we have 30 percent of the corn planted in Ohio, just up from 27 percent last week. Last year at this time we were at 44 percent, but we are nearing the 35 percent normal.

Meanwhile, the U.S. as a whole is ahead of normal, with 64 percent planted against the average 55. Better progress was made last week in the nation as a whole. We gained 19 percent of the crop in the ground in the last week.

Last year at this time the nation was at 69 percent, just ahead of this year’s pace. The soybean pace for Ohio is lagging, as farmers are working harder to catch up the corn acres.

Ohio is behind the average planting for this date, but the nation as a whole is ahead. Ohio soybean planting, according to USDA, is at just eight percent. Last year at this time we had 18 percent planted. Last week we were only at five percent. The average is 14.

National numbers

Nationally we are at 23 percent planted on soybeans, a huge jump from the eight percent of last week. 16 percent is the average, so we are well ahead.

The feeling has been that the corn prices could firm up with slow corn planting, but that is wrong. First, the planting nationwide is better than it “feels” locally. Second, the recent failed rally is really a reflection of a corn market that was mostly following the soybean excitement.

It has been exciting following beans until recently. The July futures gained nearly $2 in two months, and gained nearly a buck in the two weeks after April 19.

The July futures high was $10.57 on May 3. Since then we have broken prices a little, but most traded in a sideways range. This Tuesday morning, May 10, we are trading the July at $10.40, up 14 cents.

The soybean prices have been fueled by fundamental and political problems in South America, and by American speculators who have changed moods and gotten bullish. Argentina got involved in the impeachment of their president, then put that on hold as some procedural problems are worked out.

Political issue

The truth is that they are not sure how to go about this. The whole mess is playing with the value of their currency, which is swinging in large movements, effecting drama in the grain prices.

Add to the politics too much rain in Argentina and too little in Brazil, and you have the mix of confusion that has fueled our rally. That rally is stalled, and history suggests that we may wish we had sold this top when we get farther out in the summer.

Price swings

The corn rally has fizzled, and we have seen two big price swings as we look for direction. We gained 56 cents on a month on the July futures, but we are now trading $3.70, 37-1⁄4 cents off the April 21 high.

This means we are back where we were the end of March, before the last drop and before all the run-up. Ethanol production has been down eight of the last ten weeks, but still is a record for this time of year.

Exports are good

This probably means that good news is In the market and we are still languishing for prices. Farmers this time of year typically ignore marketing in favor of planting and stealing a little sleep when it rains.

Maybe that is just as well. Most of them sold beans over the last two weeks, and are trying to talk themselves into selling corn. By the time planning is done, they can rationalize a move to two-thirds sold beans.

It is hard to rationalize corn sales, but maybe they need to be done.


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