Hopes of an early planting season have now dwindled for many across the Midwest. Cooler than average temperatures, combined with rain and snow, have pushed many farmers’ plans to plant back a few more weeks. The slow planting pace is impacting commodity prices, and it’s not even May.
As of Sunday, USDA says 4 percent of the nation’s corn crop had been planted, a 2 point improvement in a week, but still trailing the five year average by 2 percentage points. Planting progress for soybeans was at 1 percent as of Sunday, 1 percentage point behind normal. Wet weather in the mid-South is causing issues for farmers in states like Mississippi. USDA says 10 percent of that state’s crop was in the ground, more than half of what’s typically planted this time of year.
Even though the calendar still says April, crop supply concerns have traders on edge, and any hiccup in planting provided fuel for prices to start the week. Corn futures on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) topped $8 per bushel on Monday, the highest price in nearly a decade. Prices retreated some on Tuesday with the old crop contracts still trading above $8 mid-day.
With more chilly air forecast for the remainder of the month, traders are worried about what the slow planting pace could mean for the U.S. crop this year.
“That’s why we’ve seen a series of contract highs here and in December corn futures,” Brian Grete, editor of Pro Farmer says. “The planting intentions came in well below what was expected. Now you have at least semi delays here in April. You know the market is starting to factor in the potential. And then you look out in the in the western Corn Belt and we have drought, especially in the southwestern portion of the Corn Belt. It really does bring into question whether we can get to that trendline number that USDA is going to put on it next month in its initial WASDE report for the 22/23 marketing year.”
While the story of the 2022 corn crop is far from over, analysts say it will have a small impact on a potential shift in acres. An early planting season typically draws more corn acres across the country.
“It is early, but we’ve also kind of lost a little bit of that early planting window we’ve had, we’d like to see the crop get in sooner than this,” Mark Gold with the StoneX Group says. “It’s been cold wet, it looks like it’s going to continue to be cold and wet next week for much of the Midwest. So, we don’t really see that early planting is going to be a factor, and we were going to pick up some acres if they would plant the corn early, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. So, it looks like the corn acres will stay down, and the soybean acres will stay up.”
Some farmers across Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri report starting to plant, but the forecast shows the open window to plant may be short-lived, with more rain on the way.