Just like a week ago, if you ask someone: “how much corn is planted and 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 from April 21-27 across extreme southern Minnesota and northern Iowa have raised major concerns in some areas regarding delays in corn planting. Most of the region received rainfall amounts of 2-3 in. or more during that period, on soils that were already saturated. In some these areas, fields have been too wet to plant any corn this spring, while in other parts of extreme southern Minnesota less than 25% of the corn is planted, as of April 28. However, not too far north of this area in south central Minnesota nearly all the corn was planted by April 28, and there have been very few delays since corn planting began on April 19 and 20. Some farmers have delayed some planting of corn-on-corn acres to allow for further soil warm-up. Some of the early planted corn has started to emerge.

Cool soil temperatures were a concern around April 20, when corn planting began in some areas. However, the recent warmer than normal temperatures have all but alleviated any soil temperature concerns as far as corn or soybean planting. In the very wet areas, the soil temperature should be favorable for good planting conditions, once the fields dry out adequately 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 good conditions for early growth, once the corn is planted. If the average soil temperature in the planting zone is above 60 degrees 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 2-3 weeks, until May 15-20, 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. It appears that delayed corn planting issues are much more of a concern in parts of Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska than in Minnesota. The planting window for soybeans is significantly wider than it is for corn. In southern Minnesota, full-season varieties of soybeans can be planted until May 20-25 and still maintain close to full yield potential.

Grain Marketing Opportunities
In many years, some of the best corn and soybean marketing opportunities occur during the spring planting season from April until early June. In most years, corn and soybean prices tend to decline from early July until harvest in the fall, unless there is a major drought in the U.S. cash corn and soybean prices at local grain elevators in southern Minnesota have been in the $3.15-3.30/bu. range in recent weeks, which is $.60-.70/bu. below the cash corn prices in late February 2007; however, current cash prices are about a $1.30-1.40/bu. higher than cash corn prices in late April, 2006.

Similarly, current cash soybean prices at local grain elevators have been in the $6.65-6.90/bu. range in recent weeks, which is down slightly from the peek local soybean cash prices of $7-7.25/bu.; however the current cash prices are also about $1.30-1.40/bu. higher than cash soybean prices in late April 2006. For farm operators that still have a considerable amount of 2006 corn and soybeans stored on the farm waiting to be sold, it would probably be a good farm management decision to take advantage of favorable marketing opportunities to liquidate some of the 2006 grain inventory. There also may be some opportunities in the next few weeks to forward-price some of the 2007 corn and soybean crop, when temporary grain price rallies occur.

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 kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.