According to Good, corn acreage below intentions in those areas would not be a surprise as acreage is shifted to crops with a shorter growing season or is not planted at all. However, such declines could be offset by increases in areas with more timely planting. Overall, slightly less corn acreage than reported in March seems likely if planting delays continue. Expectations about corn acreage will begin to firm up after the current week of generally rainy weather in the Corn Belt, and a more accurate assessment of corn acreage will be available in the USDA’s June 28 Acreage report.

“Agronomic research that has quantified the relationship between planting date and corn yields has clearly identified a yield penalty associated with late planting,” Good says. “In the Corn Belt, that penalty accelerates for planting dates after about the third week of May. However, planting date is only one factor that influences corn yields. Over a fairly wide planting window, yields are more influenced by growing-season weather than by planting date. As a result, the U.S average yield relative to trend yield has varied considerably, regardless of the percentage of the crop planted late.

"In the 10 years since 1990 with the largest percentage of the crop planted late, the U.S. average yield was below trend in five years, about equal to trend in two years, and above trend in three years,” he says.

Good adds that the largest of the five yield shortfalls were in the extreme late-planted years of 1993 (widespread flooding) and 1995 (very hot summer). Ironically, the largest yield shortfalls relative to trend in modern history were in the early-planted years of 1988 and 2012 and in 1983 when plantings were delayed modestly.

“The likely size of the 2013 U.S. corn crop is still very uncertain at this early stage of the season,” Good says. “With recent beneficial precipitation in much of the Corn Belt, prospects for only modest losses in corn acreage, and ample time remaining to plant the crop, prospects for a large crop are still very much in play.”


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