US farmers got back on track with corn sowings - just in
time to avoid yield penalties - by planting an area as big as Denmark and Sri Lanka combined in one week - but cold and wet weather continued to slow spring wheat seedings.
US growers sowed 30% of their corn crop in the week to
Sunday, equivalent to some 27.5m acres (11.3m hectares), the US Department of
The progress took seedings to 59% complete, 1 point ahead of
the average, meaning farmers had more than caught up with the typical pace
sowings after an unusually slow start to plantings.
The jump in sowings came just in time to underpin crop hopes,
with mid-May typically seen as the deadline which US corn should be seeded by,
before yield potential is curtailed, with penalties of 1-1.5 bushels per acre
per day of delay after mid-May often quoted.
'Surge in field
The acceleration was led by Iowa, the top corn and soybean growing
state, where growers planted 47% of their corn in one week, equivalent to about
6.6m hectares, an area bigger than that of Israel.
USDA scouts flagged "optimal conditions" for Iowa plantings,
with temperatures "above normal for the week, while average precipitation was
However, significant progress was also seen in neighbouring
Illinois, the second-ranked corn growing state, where growers seeded 35% of
their corn as "producers spent long days in the field making up for time lost
due to the previous week's wet conditions".
Elsewhere in the Corn Belt, in Indiana, "warm and dry
weather for the majority of the state saw a surge in field activity and planting",
with farmers completing 41% of sowings.
'Cool, wet weather'
However, sowings remained well behind normal in northern
areas of the Midwest, including in Minnesota, where growers are, with 23% of
corn in the ground, 31 points behind the typical pace.
"More progress was made on sandier soils, before planting
was once again halted by rains late in the week," USDA scouts in the state said.
In Michigan - where seedings are 21 points behind average,
at 17% complete -"drier and warmer conditions allowed farmers to make progress
with planting, but most crops still lag behind the five-year average," scouts
North Dakota, "cool, wet weather continued across the state
last week which delayed fieldwork even further".
"Average temperatures were 4-8 degrees Fahrenheit below
normal over much of the state, with soil temperatures ranging from 38-45
degrees," below the 50 degrees many consider necessary to germinate corn.
At Benson Quinn Commodities, Brian Henry said that there were
"certainly some haves and have-nots" among growing states, with the "traditional
corn-growing regions well ahead of the pace, while the northern tier shows
'Heat and high winds'
Indeed, the poor weather in the northern Plains succeeded in
maintaining delays in sowings of spring wheat, for which the region is the top
Just 34% of spring wheat was seeded by Sunday, up eight
points week on week, but 19 points behind the average.
In Minnesota, completed plantings, at 8%, are 45 points
behind the typical pace.
And as an extra setback to US wheat hopes, the USDA cut
further its rating for the condition of crops in hard red winter wheat states
in the southern Plains.
The proportion of winter wheat in Kansas, the top US growing
state for the grain, rated in good or excellent health dropped by four points
week on week to just 14% rated good or excellent.
"Heat and high winds caused further deterioration of the
Kansas wheat crop," the USDA said.
While "isolated areas of the state received rain late Sunday
with some reports of hail and flash flooding", the showers "were not enough to
relieve drought conditions".
The corn sowings figure, while broadly in line with market expectations,
provoked ideas of weaker prices ahead, with the need reduced for a risk premium
to account for planting delays.
"While it will take time to get the tail end of the crop
planted, I expect the funds to recalibrate their ideas of owning corn given the
progress that has been made and the start that two-thirds of the crop will get,"
Benson Quinn Commodities' Brian Henry said.
However, wheat was seen as retaining better a case for
"I view Monday's updates as negative for row crops and
positive for wheat," said Richard Feltes at Chicago-based broker RJ O'Brien.