May 30, 2019

2019 U.S. Corn only 58% Planted, Faces Many Challenges

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

In the latest Crop Progress Report, the 2019 U.S. corn crop was 58% planted as of last Sunday compared to 90% last year and 90% for the 5-year average. The corn planting advanced only 9% last week. These planting delays have big implications for the corn planted acreage, the amount of prevent plant acreage, the amount of replant that may be needed, how much corn might be abandoned, and the potential corn yields.

Planted corn acreage - The corn acreage is anyone's guess at this point given the wet conditions, a wet forecast, prevent plant, and the recently announced bailout program from the government. In a worst case scenario, the 2019 U.S. corn planted acreage could end up in the mid-80 million acre range or lower.

Prevent plant corn acreage - The prevent plant date for corn was May 25th (last Saturday) for most of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas. The prevent plant date for corn in Iowa and most of Minnesota is May 31st (next Friday) and the prevent plant date for corn in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio is June 5th.

It is entirely possible that 2019 could see a record amount of prevent plant acreage of 7-8-9 million acres. At this point the amount is unclear, but I think we can say there will probably be more for corn than for soybeans.

Replanted corn acreage - With the heavy rains, there is going to be a lot of standing water and ponding, which will require the corn to be replanted if it dries up in a reasonable period of time. The corn is emerging very slow due to the cool and wet conditions, so there is going to be a lot corn with unacceptable plant populations that will also need to be replanted. How much replanting remains to be seen and the weather will determine how late it gets replanted.

Harvested corn acreage - In a normal year, farmers would harvest approximately 91.7% of the corn for grain production. The remainder would be harvested mostly for silage, but some could also be abandoned. This year, the amount of corn harvested for silage would probably be about the same, but there could be a much higher percentage of abandonment. For now, I would probably use a harvested percentage closer to 90%, but it could end up below that.

We also have to watch for lost acreage due to river flooding in the Midwest and also along the Arkansas River and the lower Mississippi River. It is too early to say for sure, but there could also be increased abandonment in the Southeastern U.S. as well due to potential hot and dry conditions.

Potential corn yield - The 2019 U.S. corn crop already has a lot of hurdles to overcome including: late planting, slow emergence, potential for lower plant populations, nitrogen leaching, reduced root growth due to lack of oxygen in the saturated soils, and increase root diseases due to wet conditions

All of these factors could contribute to a yield drag for the U.S. corn crop. In Illinois for example, if the corn is planted on May 20th, the yield drag is 9%. If the corn is planted on May 30th, the yield drag is 14%.

I have already lowered the potential U.S. corn yield to 167 bu/ac and I currently do not think there is much of an upside potential for the corn yield estimate and there is a greater downside risk given all the potential problems for this crop.