Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Fundamentally Speaking blog that is found in the blogs section on DTN digital platforms.
Things are getting serious in corn country. The slow pace of corn planting in 2022 is lagging significantly, particularly in the three "I" states that make up to 40% of the U.S. corn crop. That doesn't bode well for corn and soybean yields in a year when supplies are already tight and other global grain and oilseed producers are facing their own issues.
Those three key states had only 5% of expected corn acreage planted, according to USDA Crop Progress reports of April 25. In crop year 2021, those states had 52% of the corn crop planted, with a five-year average of 46% planted by that April period.
That lagged pace of planting corn is likely to have adverse consequences for achieving trend yields and will limit the expansion of corn acreage, as forecasts for much of the Corn Belt, especially in eastern sections, remain cold and wet.
Nationally, just 3% of corn was seeded last week with a mere 7% of U.S. corn in the ground as of April 24; that's versus 16% last year and the 15% five-year average. This is certainly one of the slowest seeding paces ever seen since USDA starting measuring seeding progress on a national basis in 1987.
The graph accompanying this article shows the percentage change in the combined corn planted area of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa from the end-of-March Planting Intentions report to the end-of-June Acreage report on the left-hand axis versus the percentage the production-weighted corn yield of those three states deviated from the 20-year trend on the right-hand axis.
The circled figures are the combined percentage of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa corn crops planted as of April 24. With data going back to 1994, this year's 5% planted rate for the three "Big I" states is barely ahead of the least amount of corn in the ground by April 24 of 3% in 2013, though lower than the 9% seeded rate in 1995.
It's often feared that a delayed corn planting pace can limit any increases in expected corn-planted area and even lead to corn acres decreasing (as farmers shift to soybeans or other crops.) Late corn plantings are also often associated with below-trend yields since the critical pollination period is pushed from the end of June-early July to the end of July when statistically it is hotter. That slower development can also result in some of the corn not reaching maturity by the time the first fall freezes arrive in the Midwest.
In 2013, it turned out the drop in planted area was a mere 0.6% or just 200,000 acres, while the three I-state weighted yield was quite decent, coming in 1.7% higher than the 20-year trend.
However, 1995 was a different story, as late seedings that year resulted in a March-to-June acreage decline of 1.5 million acres or 5.2% with the final yield 11% below trend after a cold, wet spring and a mostly hot, dry summer.
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