Planting Delays A Concern

Heavy rains across Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa that occurred April 28-30 have raised major concerns in some areas regarding delays in corn planting. Most of the region received 2-3 in. of rain over the weekend, which brought total precipitation for April to 7-10 inches in many portions of extreme Southern Minnesota. In some areas, fields have been too wet to plant any corn this spring, while in other parts of southern portions of South Central and Southwest Minnesota, less than 25 percent of the corn is planted, as of May 1. Following the most recent rainfall event, most fields in this region are totally saturated, many fields with standing water, and will take several days of drying to allow spring fieldwork to resume in most locations. Late April and early May planting conditions in much of this region are starting out very similar to the spring of 2001, when delayed planting due to wet field conditions led to reduced corn and soybean yields, and ultimately to reduced farm profits for 2001.

If corn planting is delayed beyond the first week of May, the yield potential starts to be reduced. The good news is that we¡¯ve had warmer than normal temperatures in April, and soil temperatures have remained warm. This 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¢ª, 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.

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. Corn and soybean prices on the Chicago Board of Trade were up significantly on April 28, and opened higher on May 1. Many farm operators still have a considerable amount of 2005 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 2005 grain inventory, as well as to forward-price some of the 2006 corn and soybean crop, when these temporary grain price rallies occur.

Editors 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.