Although rains limited fieldwork in the eastern Midwest last week, U.S. producers were able to maintain a near-record corn planting pace, while soybean planting surged ahead as clear conditions in the western Corn Belt allowed good progress until Friday.

Monday afternoon’s weekly USDA crop update showed 81% of the U.S. corn crop had been planted by Sunday, up from 68% a week earlier and well ahead of last year’s pace of 46% and the five-year average of 62%.

The pace was in line with trade expectations and just behind the record of 84% for May 9, set in 2004.

Corn emergence rose significantly thanks to warm conditions the first four days of the week. USDA pegged U.S. corn emergence at 39%, up from 19% a week earlier, 13% a year earlier and the five-year average of 21%.

U.S. soybean planting progress jumped to 30% as of Sunday compared with 15% a week earlier, 13% a year earlier and the five-year average of 19%. The progress figure, however, was at the low end of trade expectations.

USDA pegged nationwide soybean emergence at 7% compared with 3% a year earlier and an average of 4%.

The fastest corn planting pace last week was registered in Nebraska, where planting progress advanced 30 percentage points on the week to 78% done, ahead of the average pace of 65%.

As a result of the good planting progress in Nebraska, more than 90% of the corn crop in the top four U.S. producing states of Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota has now been planted.

Crop emergence is also far ahead of schedule across the top producing states, with 63% of Illinois corn already emerged against a five-year average of 33%. Some 48% of the Iowa crop had emerged as of Sunday against an average of 17%, while 32% of the Minnesota crop was out of the ground against an average of 9%.

However, the fast emergence pace did leave the crop vulnerable to possible damage from a weekend frost/freeze. The Iowa office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported replanting concerns had been raised there after a widespread frost that saw overnight low temperatures drop into the upper 20s in northern Iowa and the low 30s in southern Iowa. Crop emergence was also set back in some fields.

Soybean planting surged ahead last week in the top-producing state of Iowa, reaching 44% complete up from 13% a week earlier and a five-year average pace of 17%.

In Illinois, soybean planting was 33% complete as of Sunday, up from 11% a week earlier and a five year-average of 18%. A year ago at this time, Illinois producers had still not planted any soybeans.

Editor’s note: Richard Brock, Corn & Soybean Digest's marketing editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.