By John DePutter & Dave Milne – April 10, 2018
“The USDA’s weekly crop progress report pegged nationwide corn planting at 2% complete as of Sunday, a single point behind last year but right on par with the five-year average and pre-report trade guesses.”
– Syngenta website article, April 9, 2018
What it means:
Not a whole lot, given how much weather still lies ahead.
With a good portion of the harvest complete in Brazil and ongoing in Argentina, the focus of the corn market is now turning almost exclusively to the weather in the American Midwest. And while early corn planting progress may have met analysts’ expectations, the bulk of the crop seeded to date has been in the more southern, less important production states of Texas and North Carolina.
Where the rubber really hits the road is in the two main corn production states of Iowa and Illinois, along with the remainder of the Corn Belt. And in those areas, early planting prospects appear more dubious. According to the USDA, and as shown below, soils are saturated in parts of the lower Midwest. Meanwhile, snow remains on the ground in much of the upper Midwest.
That’s a bit concerning given that almost 10% of the nationwide corn crop is normally in the ground by the middle of April and more than one-third is seeded by the end of the month. Indeed, meteorologist Drew Lerner of World Weather Inc. has suggested excess moisture will likely keep corn planting slow in much of the southern regions for the first part of spring, before flipping northward later.
Meanwhile, the longer-term outlook looks less than reassuring as well. As the map here shows, above average precipitation is expected in the heart of the Corn Belt for the entire month of April.
Admittedly, weather forecasts can be wrong and even a short window of decent weather can result in massive planting gains thanks to modern day farm equipment and efficiencies. But at this point, the signs all appear to be pointing to the likelihood of at least early planting delays – something the futures market is already starting to factor in.
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