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Midwest farmers see window of favorable weather for planting


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Midwest farmers had their biggest window of favorable weather for planting so far this spring last week, which was a switch from the above-average precipitation and cool weather conditions they experienced the previous week, according to AccuWeather.

“This window will close late (this) week as a new storm moves in from the west, triggering widespread showers and thunderstorms the weekend of May 18-19,” said Dale Mohler, AccuWeather senior commodity forecaster in State College. “Keep in mind the first several days of this drier period are needed to dry out the saturated topsoil.

“It seems unlikely that planting (this) week will make up the entire 23 percent differential between current planting and normal corn planting. However, cutting the difference in half is a possibility. This window of dry weather will ease the tension building up over the slow start to the 2019 corn/soybean planting season.”

As of May 7, U.S. corn planting was 23 percent complete (it was at 15 percent the previous week, 36 percent last year this time, with a five-year average of 46 percent). U.S. soybean planting was 6 percent complete (3 percent the previous week, 14 percent last year, and five-year average of 14 percent), Allendale, Inc., reported last week.

However, it noted more rain was expected around the Midwest May 5-11, “which could further hamper corn planting and raise the chances of some land being switched to later-planted soybeans.”

In Illinois, the state’s May 5 report said precipitation averaged 3.22 inches, 2.33 above normal. Corn planted reached 10 percent, compared to 68 percent last year and 66 percent for the five-year average, with corn emerged reaching 2 percent, compared to 12 percent last year. Soy planted was at 3 percent, compared to 26 percent last year and 16 percent for the five-year average.

In Indiana, the state’s May 6 report said planting continued to be delayed due to above-average precipitation the previous week, worsening what had already been a relentlessly rainy spring so far.

“With fieldwork very limited over the last week, the percent of corn and soybeans planted fell significantly behind the previous year and five-year average levels,” said USDA State Statistician Greg Matli. “Winter wheat growth continued to progress, but fell just slightly behind the five-year average.”

In Iowa, the state’s May 6 report said growers statewide have now planted 36 percent of the expected corn, with 8 percent of the expected soybean crop planted, and 87 percent of the anticipated oat crop planted. Below-normal temperatures slowed crop emergence.

“Many parts of the state experienced cool, wet weather (April 28-May 4), which created unfavorable field conditions,” said Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig. “It looks like our wet weather woes will continue for the next few days, which could create more planting delays, especially in northern parts of the state.”

In Kentucky, the state’s May 6 report said soils remain saturated throughout the state from the overall wet spring, and recent showers and storms.

“Farmers continue to make progress in planting corn and soybeans, but timing has been an issue with monitoring precipitation forecasts and field conditions,” it read. “An unstable and moist air mass in place led to moderate/heavy rainfall at times and even the potential for flooding by later in the week.”

Most regions across Michigan experienced high amounts of precipitation and cooler temperatures, with some areas in the Upper Peninsula receiving up to 8 inches of snowfall.

“In the Lower Peninsula, frequent rain showers continued to oversaturate the soil, causing fieldwork to come to a standstill in many areas,” the report read. “Prevailing cooler soil temperatures have slowed emergence and growth of alfalfa, oats, and sugar beets and delayed corn and soybean planting.”

In Ohio, there had been some additional flooding and soils were extremely saturated, causing more delays in the planting season. “Winter wheat condition remained mostly fair and there were concerns of weed pressure due to the wet weather,” the state’s May 6 report said.

“There was very little opportunity to get any corn or soybean planting done last week. Oat planting and emergence was slowly moving along.”

In Tennessee, drier conditions allowed row crop producers to make excellent progress in planting corn, cotton and soybeans.

“Farmers have managed to get most of the corn and a few acres of cotton planted in between rains,” said J.C. Dupree Jr., Lauderdale County extension agent. “If weather permits, a lot of cotton will be planted the following weeks, with soybeans soon to follow. Most of our wheat is heading and growing normally.”

Looking ahead, Mohler said at least one more significant rain event is possible early the week of May 20 before a second, drier spell sets in during the last seven days of the month.

“Corn planted after May 20 in the south and June 1 in the north is likely to produce reduced yields,” he explained. “That being said, good to excellent weather during the summer months could improve the prospects for another large corn crop.

“It’s a little early to draw any significant conclusions on this year’s crop, but the weather the next two, three weeks will be a big part of the story. Any changes toward a wetter pattern (than is currently forecast) will start to take some of the upside away from the 2019 corn crop.”