Corn planters will reenter Midwest fields by the weekend as forecasts call for clear skies and warmer weather to replace the cold, rainy conditions that persisted much of this week.
Cool, wet conditions so far this spring have put farmers behind on corn planting, but a few days of dry weather can allow for rapid progress.
As of last Sunday, 19% of the U.S. corn was planted, well behind the 28% average. In Iowa, the largest corn producer, 15% was planted versus the 33% average. Illinois, the No.2 corn state, corn was 32% planted versus the 33% average and Nebraska was 20% versus the 22% average. The cutoff corn planting date for full crop insurance protection is May 31 in Iowa, and June 5 in Illinois.
"It has been a wet one this week in Iowa. Essentially planting came to a halt on Saturday and Sunday,' said Mark Licht, Iowa State University extension cropping systems agronomist. "I've heard rainfall from approximately 1" to over 5" since Saturday."
Forecasts for better planting weather were the catalyst for the sharp break in Chicago corn futures this week. New-crop December corn futures were trading near $4.94 per bushel late Friday morning, down nearly 2.4% for the week.
While planting lags Iowa's average, Licht said there is still time to plant without risk to yields.
"I suspect farmers in western Iowa, where rainfall was less and soils are lighter, might be planting again by Sunday or Monday. If rainfall holds off, planting could be going statewide by the middle to end of next week," he said.
Some smaller farmers had finished corn planting prior to the rain, larger farmers are one third to one half done with corn planting, he said. Except in the northeast third of Iowa where many have not started planting corn.
Very little corn planting occurred in northern Illinois this week, said Russ Higgins, Dekalb-based agriculture educator for University of Illinois extension.
"Areas south of I-80 see a break in nearly all spots through Wednesday as light, scattered showers focus on the upper Midwest on Sunday and Monday and again by late Tuesday and Wednesday," said Joel Widenor of Commodity Weather Group. "Temperatures also warm, particularly south of I-80, so seeding should pick up."
Forecasts call for more rain in the Midwest late next week.
"While still likely to lag about a week behind normal and make a relatively limited advance by next week's report, our current estimate is for national corn seeding to advance to between 30% and 35% complete, which would be fourth or fifth slowest in the past 20 years but still a good bit ahead of the slowest cases in '95 and '13," according to a recent CWG report.