AccuWeather.com reportsforecast heavy rain in the Midwest through this weekend, which could slow the record early planting pace of the spring corn crop.

The current system plaguing the Pacific Northwest will move across the nation's midsection, bringing heavy rain early this weekend through early next week. While planting may be slowed, soil moisture will be enhanced significantly.

According to the USDA, a record-breaking 50% of the U.S. corn crop has been planted as of Sunday, with 31% sowed as of last week. Top corn-producing states of Iowa and Illinois currently have more than half of their corn crops planted.

Meteorologists suggest drier-than-normal early spring conditions helped farmers jump-start corn planting this year. But an early start to corn planting doesn't necessarily mean an ideal final crop, and 2009's high yield despite a late start is a good example.

"The most important consideration for a good corn crop is the weather leading up to the harvest period," says AccuWeather.com Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler.

Consistent rain through the summer, ideally Âľ-1 in. of rain per week, hot days with highs in the 80s and nighttime lows in the 60s can lead to the best corn yield.

This season's early planting sharply contrasts last year's late sowing, in which 20% was planted by this growth period. The sowing was primarily delayed by spring rains.

"April and May were very wet in the prime corn-planting states last year," says Mohler. "Planting was a month behind schedule, but near-perfect summer weather yielded a good crop."

Corn
Corn planting is off to a fast start this spring. According to the USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report, 50% of the U.S. corn crop had been planted as of April 25. This is 28 points ahead of the five-year average and 30 points above the slow 2009 planting season.

“Not all states are doing as well as others, but it is encouraging to see planting get completed on many farms and in some states that are near completion,” says NCGA President Darrin Ihnen, a grower in South Dakota. “We’ve had two back-to-back years of slow planting and slow harvesting, and it’s nice to see the opposite happening once in a while.”

Since 1990, planting progress has only exceeded the current level twice, most recently in 2006. In both of these instances, 52% of the corn planting was completed at this time.

The warm, dry weather prevalent across the Corn Belt last week helped growers increase planting progress substantially in some areas. Between April 19 and 25, several states saw substantial growth in total area planted. An additional 50% of the Minnesota corn crop was planted last week, followed closely by 49% in Iowa. Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky all saw an additional 39% of the corn acreage planted.

The collective information in the Crop Progress report and the March 31 Prospective Plantings report indicates that, in the leading 18 corn-producing states, 40.085 million acres of corn were planted as of April 25.


Soybeans
While soybeans are currently in their early planting stages, the Midwestern weather has yielded an earlier-than-normal planting start for the crop. Similar to the impacts made to corn planting, upcoming weekend rains throughout the Central states could slow the early sowing of soybeans.

Winter Wheat
AccuWeather,com meteorologists forecast the weather to remain favorable for winter wheat, also grown in the Midwest. Ideal winter wheat growing conditions include consistent rainfall of up to ¾ in. of rain per week, with high temperatures between 70° and 80° F.
The USDA's latest report said 69% of the winter wheat crop is in good or excellent condition.