The latest Crop Progress Report from USDA puts overall corn planted at just 5%. This is only 1 point ahead of last week, and is 26 points behind the five-year average. (Is it necessary to mention that last year nearly half of the overall corn crop was in the ground? Probably not.)
Major corn-producing states have barely begun planting or haven't even put a tractor in the field yet. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa Nebraska and Ohio are less than 5% planted (five-year average is in the 30s for most states). Minnesota and Wisconsin have seen no corn planted yet.
However, the slow planting progress isn't necessarily impacting yield, yet.
“Despite our anxiousness to finish planting by the end of April, Illinois data over the past 20 years do not show that early planting alone boosts yields,” says Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois crop sciences professor. “In fact, there is no correlation between time to 50 percent planted and yield as measured by departure-from-trendline yield. It’s clear that the early planting and drought-damaged yields of 2012 helped wreck this correlation, but even if we eliminate 2012, the percent planted by April 30 still explains only about 5 percent of the yield departure from trend."
For the corn that is already planted, 2% of the overall crop is emerging already, compared to a five-year average of 6%. Nearly half of North Carolina's planted corn is popping up, and 60% of the planted corn in Texas has emerged. The planted crop in the Corn Belt has yet to pop through the ground.
“The corn that has been planted is struggling mightily to survive the soil conditions and to emerge,” Nafziger said. “If we are lucky enough to ‘skip’ another month and May begins to look more like a typical June, it’s not too late to get the planting and crop back on track. So while yield potential will start to drop as we get further into May with planting, chances of a good corn crop remain high, as long as weather permits planting soon, and then returns to a more normal pattern of rainfall without summer drought periods like we’ve had the past three years in parts of Illinois."
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As much as everyone would like to be in the field finishing (or starting) corn planting, Nafziger reminds growers to wait for optimal conditions.
"It’s important not to do anything that might compromise the plant’s ability to take advantage of conditions later in the season that will determine actual yield. That certainly includes taking care not to plant into wet, compacted soils in our rush to plant early,” he says.
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