Planting progress finally improves


Planting progress improved dramatically in the U.S. last week. That was the news out after the close of trading on the Chicago Board of Trade Monday.

Prices for corn made new all-time highs last week in response to slow corn planting. That trend was broken Monday, as private estimates of crop progress hit the market.

After the close, USDA released the Crop Progress report, which was for the period ending Sunday night. Those numbers confirmed what the market traded Monday, which was down 15 cents for corn.

That beans also lost 15 cents was a little confusing. In principal, the corn prices are helped by slow planting, but the beans are hurt. Traders fear that corn acres are shifted to beans.

The only explanation for Monday’s trading, if there is one, is that corn prices declined on better progress, but beans continue to be defensive worrying about more acres. If that is not true, it ought to be.

Not worried, yet

Generally, traders do not panic about corn getting planted until May 15. That is the date that is seen as being the start of an acceleration to lower yields. The yields of corn planted until then are frequently not much affected by planting date.

In a wet, cold year, that is true. In a dry, hot year, early planting is an advantage.

The market so far is judging that the year is wet and cool, and planting date is just starting to matter. They were encouraged in this attitude by the report, which showed that we planted 24 percent of the nation’s crop last week, to catch us up to 51 percent. That is still well behind the 77 percent five-year average or the 71 percent at this time last year, but it is a huge improvement.

The fact that weather is supposed to continue to allow planting this week gives the traders hope of catching up.

Ohio’s progress

Ohio is similar to the rest of the country, although we have slowed. We were ahead of the rest of the country last week, then planted 19 percent more, to the current 50 percent.

If you felt you were not setting the world on fire with your planter last week, you were correct. You are still right with everybody else, but 28 percent behind the Ohio norm.

Last week we made all-time highs on corn again, this time at 6.55 December futures on May 9. We closed over 17 cents lower than that Monday night, anticipating the higher planting numbers. That high is $1.33 3/4 over the dip of March 30, before planting worries and lower planting intention numbers hit the market with the old one-two.

Amazingly to me, I am still getting farmers offering me targets above the market, instead of worrying that no one will want their corn.

In that same relative time, November bean futures have gone from a high of $14.66 on March 4 to $10.60 April 1, and back to 12.89 1/4 on Monday. That is $4.06 down and 2.29 back up, just over a 50 percent retracement.

Wheat continues the slide to new crop supplies. The high of $12.72 3/4 has decayed to the current $8.05 1/2. That same word comes to mind — amazing.

What a ride this year! The roller coaster gives you big thrills, but you always want to throw up when you get off.

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