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AccuWeather predicts another wet week, leaving farmers facing a critical decision

By John Roach, AccuWeather staff writer
May 29, 2019, 10:34:00 AM EDT

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After another wet week throughout much of the United States Corn Belt, corn and soybean planting regressed slightly in Monday’s U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Crop Progress compared to last week’s report.

The Crop Progress indicated 58% of corn was planted in 18 key corn-producing states. The 2014-18 average for corn planted by May 26 is 90%, so planting is off 35.5% in comparison.

Corn planting remains behind schedule in 17 of the 18 states in the report.

Soybean planting also is behind in 17 of the 18 key soybean-producing states, according to the report. So far, just 29% of soybean planting has taken place, compared to the five-year average of 66% by May 26, meaning soybean planting is off 56%. AccuWeather predicts corn and soybean yields for the season will be below USDA estimates as wet weather has impacted key corn- and soybean-producing states.

AccuWeather forecasts another wet week for much of the Corn Belt this week. “But the first week in June looks like 70% of the Corn Belt may be dry for five or six days -- and farmers haven’t seen anything like that so far this year,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.

Many U.S. farmers face an impending decision regarding their planting plans. Historical data shows that corn yield could drop roughly 22% if corn is planted on June 4. “If corn hasn’t been planted by next Tuesday, the yield will really drop off,” said Nicholls.

Farmers with crop insurance can receive payouts instead of planting their crops, which helps the farmer but cuts into U.S. agricultural supplies. The modest payouts serve as an incentive not to plant fields with corn and other grains that might garner low prices at harvest time, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Some farmers are going to take the subsidy,” Nicholls said. “The question is, how many? Will 5% or 10% of the crop that was going to get planted now not be planted?”

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Three of the top six corn-producing states remain far off pace for the season. Illinois' five-year average for corn planting by May 26 is 95%, but it's at 35% this year. Indiana's five-year average is 85% but currently just 22% of the state's corn has been planted, and South Dakota is well below its average of 90% with 25% planted. The three states produce more than 25% of the corn in the U.S.

As for soybean planting, “there’s concern because there are a lot of wet fields and the price of soybeans isn’t very high, so farmers aren’t really as gung-ho to plant soybeans as they would be if the price were higher,” Nicholls said. “Farmers probably still will plant as many acres as they intended to plant, maybe a tiny bit more.”

The next Crop Progress report is due June 3, which is a critical time in the corn-planting schedule. “Most intended corn acres not planted by June 4 will likely go to soybeans or be left unplanted,” said Nicholls.

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