Thursday, April 28, 2011

Corn, Beans, Wheat, and Mother Nature - Apr 28th

Corn, Beans, Spring Wheat, and Mother Nature
April 28th, 2011

Farmers across the eastern and southern Midwest and the Delta regions are struggling to get their crops planted, facing persistent rains and cold soil temperatures.  The important growing regions in the Midwest are forecast to experience severe flooding until May 2nd, and this is reflected in the slow progress being made in the fields.  As of the last USDA Planting Progress report, released on April 24th, only 9 percent of the corn crop has been seeded, compared to 46 percent last year and the ten-year average of 23 percent for this time of year.  Only 6 percent of the spring wheat crop has made it into the ground, compared to 39 percent last year and a ten-year average of 27 percent.  A friend recently forwarded some photos of the flooding, and I will share one of them here today. 

The rains have not been bullish for all crops, as it has spread somewhat to the parched winter wheat growing regions in the South, helping to push wheat futures down sharply in yesterday’s session. 

Cold Soil Temperatures

Underneath the soaked fields, the soil is very cold, currently about 10 degrees cooler than usual in the important corn growing state of Iowa.  Soil temperature is a critical determinant of crop germination, with corn refusing to grow in soil below 50 degrees (Fahrenheit).  Soybeans that are exposed to temperatures less than 28 degrees (2 below in Celsius) need to be replanted.  Forecasts call for temperatures to drop below freezing twice next week in the upper Great Plains, and the cold may spread to northwestern Iowa and Wisconsin.  This is bad news for field crops, as we are in the prime planting period for corn and spring wheat.  To achieve optimal yields in Iowa for example, corn needs to be planted by May 2nd, and as a general rule, corn planted after May 15th will risk lower yields.  Should planting delays persist for much longer, it could lead farmers to switch to soybeans, though we should keep in mind that with modern farm technology; a lot can be accomplished in a short period of time. 

-Jaime Macrae, CIM
Account Executive, Friedberg Mercantile Group

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