NASS report shows delay in corn planting

By Erin Voegele | May 04, 2009
Report posted June 1, 2009, at 9:30 a.m. CST

The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service's crop progress report, released on May 26, showed that corn plantings are slightly down compared to the same time period last year. The report included data on corn plantings and emerging corn in 18 states, which represent 92 percent of last year's corn acreage. These states include Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

As of the week ending May 24, the report showed that 82 percent of the corn crop in these 18 states has been planted. This is a 4 percent drop from last year, when 86 percent of the corn crop had been planted by May 24, and 11 percent less than the 2004-2008 average of 93 percent.

To date, corn plantings in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wisconsin are ahead of 2008 planting levels, while Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina and Texas have met or exceeded the average planting levels measured from 2004-2008.

In the same period of time, the percent of corn emerged in these 18 states has risen to 52 percent from a 2008 level of 48 percent. The average for 2004-2008 is 71 percent. To data, only Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and North Carolina have met or exceeded the 2004-2008 average for corn emerged.

According to Jason Sagebiel, director of FCStone LLC's Renewable Fuels Group, a delayed planting process often results in lower yields or a switch in acreage. For example, farmers facing wet conditions may choose to plant soybeans instead of corn. Delayed planting also means the corn that is planted will mature later, making it more susceptible to freeze.

Sagebiel said the most recent NASS report showed that most of the delayed planting is taking place in the Eastern Corn Belt, while the Western Corn Belt has seen good progress. "So really looking at this report, the issues may stem mainly in areas toward the Eastern Corn Belt; Illinois, Indiana, and even Ohio and a little bit of Michigan," he said.

Regarding corn prices, Sagebiel said the planting progress report is only one indicator of what the price of corn will be. "I don't know if [corn prices] will go up or not," he said. "What I can tell you is that you leave yourself open to more volatility." However, there are many other factors that can impact the market, including global factors, political factors, the impact of other commodity markets, and the currency markets. "There are just too many other factors and there is too much of the growth time period yet to say whether this will impact [corn prices]," said Sagebiel.