Jun 04, 2019

2019 U.S. Corn Planting Record Slow at 67% Complete

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

The 2019 U.S. corn crop is 67% planted compared to 96% last year and 96% for the 5-year average. This represents an advance of 9% for the week. If we use the March Prospective Planting estimate of 92.8 million acres, then there is over 30 million acres of corn left to plant. I do not think that all those intended acres will get planted.

The best planting progress last week was in the far northwestern Corn Belt where the corn is 81% planted in North Dakota (average is 93%), 76% in Minnesota (average is 98%), and South Dakota is 44% (average is 96%). Farmers in the western Corn Belt did get some corn planted with 88% planted in Nebraska (average is 98%), Iowa is 80% (average is 99%), Kansas is 79% (average is 93%), and Missouri is 69% (average is 97%).

Farmers in the eastern Corn Belt continue to be the most delayed with the corn in Illinois 45% planted (average is 98), Indiana is 31% (average is 94%), and Ohio is 33% (average is 90%).

Corn emergence is also delayed with 46% of the crop emerged compared to 84% last year and 84% for the 5-year average. At this point, I would estimate that the corn is getting started about 2 weeks later than last year, maybe more depending on the location, and it is probably going to get worse. With approximately 30 million acres of corn left to plant, and it is unclear if or when the corn will be planted, the corn crop could end up 3 weeks or more later than last year.

Corn Prevent Plant - The prevent plant date was May 25th for most of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and western Missouri. It was May 31st for Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and eastern Missouri. It will be June 5th (Wednesday) for Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan.

Farmers have been receiving a lot of conflicting signals if it would be advantageous to claim an insurance payment for prevent plant or not. Three weeks ago, it looked like prevent plant would be the obvious choice, but with higher corn prices and confusion over the government bailout program, the correct choice is no longer obvious. With the higher prices, some farmers may now continue to try and plant corn maybe up to a week past the prevent plant date even though they lose 1% coverage for every day they plant past the prevent plant date.

Corn Replant - Some of the corn that has already been planted will have to be replanted due to poor plant populations or being drowned out by standing water. If and when the replanting occurs will depend on the weather.

Corn Planted and Harvested Acreage - If we combine prevent plant, areas that may not get replanted, and areas that might get switched to soybeans, my estimate is that there will be a total of 6-7 million acres of intended corn that will not get planted. In the March Prospective Planting report, it was estimated that U.S. farmers would plant 92.8 million acres of corn. So, if we subtract 6.5 million (my midpoint), then there might be 86.3 million acres of corn planted in 2019. I also feel there will probably be increased abandonment this year, so instead of the 5-year average of 91.7% of the planted corn being harvested for grain, I am going to start off by using 90% of the planted corn being harvested for grain. So, the harvested acreage is estimated at 77.6 million acres.

Corn Yield - Given the fact that approximately 30 million acres of corn still need to be planted and it is already the first week of June. I am going to lower my projected corn yield by 2 bu/ac to 165 bu/ac and I have a lower bias going forward.

All the recent attention has been directed toward to the planting delays in the Midwest, but let's not forget that the weather has been very hot and dry in the Southeastern U.S. There are many reports of the corn being under extreme moisture stress in the region. Granted this is not a major corn producing area but there are 970,000 acres of corn in North Carolina, 600,000 acres in Mississippi, 400,000 acres in South Carolina, 380,000 acres in Georgia, and 280,000 acres in Alabama.