CME: Corn Planting Progresses

US - Farmers did the corn planting equivalent of 'make hay while the sun shines' last week as USDA's estimate of total corn acres planted jumped to 40 per cent of total planned acres, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.
calendar icon 10 May 2011
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That is a 27 per cent increase from the previous week and brings the national number within shooting distance of the next week's average of the past five years, 69.8 per cent. Planting 30 per cent of the nation's corn acres in a week is not an common occurrence but it has indeed happened – in week 18 (which is last week this year) in 2007 and 2001. The all-time record for the percentage of acres planted in one week was set in week 19 of 1992 at 43 per cent. That is followed by 34 per cent in week 18 of 2009. Those are pretty remarkable numbers when you think about how different the technology was back then. Good weather sure helps!

What is remarkable about this week's progress is that it was accomplished with basically no participation by Eastern Cornbelt states. Indiana, Ohio and Michigan have planted only four per cent, two per cent and three per cent, respectively, of their intended acres as of Sunday. That compares to two per cent, one per cent and one per cent last week and five-year averages of 49 per cent, 54 per cent and 49 per cent for the three states, respectively. (Steve Meyer writes: Flying into Detroit International on Monday afternoon, it did not appear that eastern Michigan would catch up any time soon. There was a lot of water standing in fields!)

The good side, of course, is that progress in Iowa was terrific with 69 per cent of corn acres now planted compared to just eight per cent last week. The 69 per cent figure is equal to the average of the past 5 years. Good progress was also seen in Minnesota (28 per cent versus one per cent last week), Missouri (59 per cent vs 32 per cent last week), and Nebraska (57 versus 15). Number 2 corn state Illinois' corn planting went from 10 per cent to 34 per cent last week.

USDA's monthly Crop Production and World Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) reports will be released tomorrow (11 May). The results of Dow Jones newswires' monthly pre-report survey of grain analysts were released today and appear in the tables below.

The May report is important because it is the first report each year in which USDA presents its ideas for supply and usage for the 2011-12 crop year.

The top table shows the high, low and average estimates of total wheat production and wheat production by type as well as USDA's April production estimates. Obviously, analysts expect USDA to sharply reduce its estimate of the hard red winter wheat crop – understandable given the harshness of drought conditions in the southwest. But analysts also expect a much larger soft red wheat crop, supporting our contention that wheat feeding may be important in the southern Corn Belt and southeast.

Analysts, on average, anticipate only small changes in projected 2011 year -end stocks of wheat, corn and soybeans. We suspect that the analysts' average corn carry-out estimate of 661 million bushels results primarily from the belief that USDA simply will not reduce the number much if at all, i.e. that 675 is a bare minimum.

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