Corn planting at slowest pace since 1984

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON – Corn futures prices recovered some overnight after the US Department of Agriculture said late May 6 corn planting in the 18-major states stood at 12 percent completed as of May 5. The planting number was on the low side of trade expectations and the slowest pace for the date since 9 percent in 1984.

In its weekly Crop Progress report, the USDA said planting increased from just 5 percent a week earlier, but the 12 percent planted number was far behind last year’s 69 percent and the 2008-12 average for the date of 47 percent. Planting was under way in all of the 18 major states, with North Dakota getting 1 percent of its crop planted in the latest week. Planting in top-producing Iowa stood at 8 percent compared with 62 percent last year and 56 percent as the five-year average.

Corn emergence in the 18 states was 3 percent by May 5, behind 29 percent last year and 15 percent as the five-year average.

In its first 18-state aggregate soybean planting update of the season, the USDA said 2 percent of the crop was in the ground by May 5, behind 22 percent last year and 12 percent as the 2008-12 average for the date. Soybean planting had yet to begin in 10 of the 18 major states.

Traders indicated it was the slowest pace on record for soybean planting, passing the old record of 4 percent for the date in 1996.

Improved weather this week was expected to allow more rapid planting progress across the Midwest, although more showers were forecast for some areas starting at midweek. Traders noted that progress this week and next will be critical as the central Corn Belt passes its optimal planting date for corn after which yields may begin to decline.

Corn futures prices were up slightly in electronic trading early May 7, while soybean futures were up about 5-8 cents a bushel and wheat futures were up about 2-5 cents a bushel. Futures prices closed sharply lower May 6, mainly on ideas of improved weather prospects for spring planting and winter wheat development.

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