Just as existed a week ago, if you ask someone, “How much corn is planted, or how much spring fieldwork has occurred in your area?” the response is likely to be quite different, depending on where the person resides. Frequent rainfall events in late April and early May across Minnesota and northern Iowa have raised major concerns in some areas regarding delays in corn planting. Most of the region has received rainfall amounts of 1-2 in. or more during that period on soils that were already saturated. Some areas of south-central Minnesota were able to make some excellent planting progress during the first week of May, with over 50% of the anticipated corn planted by May 8. In other areas of Minnesota very little corn has been planted because field conditions have remained too wet, which was reinforced by some additional rainfall this past weekend.
The best news for spring planting, as of May 9, was a rapid warm-up in soil temperatures, which should help alleviate many of the soil temperature concerns as far as corn or soybean planting. Prior to May 5, the soil temperatures in most areas at the 2-4-in. planting depth had remained below 50° F, which is considered the minimal desirable temperature for good corn planting conditions. At the University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Center at Waseca the average soil temperature at the 2-in. level was only 45° F on April 30, and dropped even lower to 37° on May 3, before rebounding to 59° by May 8. In the very wet areas, the soil temperature should be very favorable for good planting conditions once the fields adequately dry out for corn planting. In areas where corn planting is completed, the soil temperatures should be very favorable to begin planting soybeans at this time, as well. The warmer soil temperatures should allow for rapid germination, and should provide good conditions for early growth once the corn is planted. If the average soil temperature in the planting zone is above 60° F, corn should emerge in 10 days or less after planting.
Most growers will probably stick with planting full-season corn hybrids for at least another two to three weeks, until May 20-25, then will move to earlier corn hybrids, before switching major acreage to soybeans. Weather conditions in the next 10 days to two weeks will determine if we just have planting delays with minor impact in this region, or if it becomes a major concern with potentially significant economic impact. Delayed corn planting issues are also a major concern in parts of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and South Dakota. The planting window for soybeans is significantly wider than it is for corn. In southern Minnesota, full-season soybean soybeans can be planted until mid- to late May, and still maintain close to full yield potential.
2011 Corn Production Critical
Some crop production and grain marketing experts are now questioning whether U.S. farmers will be able to get the full 92.2 million acres of corn planted in 2011, which was projected in the USDA Planting Intentions Report on March 31. If there is a reduction in the intended corn acreage in 2011, it could cause concerns over already tight corn supplies for the coming year, and could lead to further increases in the already volatile corn market prices. According to the USDA, and grain marketing experts, U.S. corn production of about 13.6 billion bushels is needed in 2011 to meet corn usage demands, and to maintain the projected corn carryover at current estimated levels. To achieve this production level in 2011 will require that close to 92 million acres of corn is planted – and that we have a national average corn yield in 2011 close to trend line yield level of slightly above 160 bu./acre. Both the projected national planted acreage and the estimated yield targets may be lofty goals for 2011, given the delays in corn planting that exist in many areas of the Midwest.
Of course, any shift in corn acreage due to late planting will likely result in added soybean acreage for 2011, which could put downward pressure on soybean prices in the coming months. Most crop production experts feel that Midwest farm operators will stay with planting their intended corn acres at least until May 20-25, before switching planned corn acres to extra 2011 soybean acres. There may be some grain marketing opportunities in the next few weeks resulting from the planting delays in portions of the Midwest.
Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.