Weather Trumps All

May 18, 2008

img_1570.jpg“Weather trumps everything else this time of year,” said grain analyst Vic Lespinasse after the Chicago Board of Trade markets closed Friday afternoon.
    Especially this spring. Planting is behind. Corn and soybean emergence is behind. Winter wheat is slow to head which will mean a late harvest — all because of an unseasonably cool, wet spring in the heart of the U.S. crop belt.
    The good news this week was the western Midwest was able to shake out of the pattern. Surely farmers took advantage of the break, spending long hours behind the wheel of a tractor.
    But farmers east of the Mississippi River were not as lucky. The eastern Midwest picked up more rains and it was cool.
    USDA will tell the world Monday afternoon farmers’ planting progress.
    The general consensus among Chicago grain traders late Friday was for USDA to report corn planting near 75 percent done vs. the seasonal average of 90 percent and soybean seeding 25 percent complete, below the usual pace of 54 percent.
    It’s especially important this spring and summer that the weather cooperates so U.S. farmers produce a bin-busting crop given the global demand for food and spiraling inflation.
    “The focus of the trade is turning from the rain to the temperatures as the coolness is impacting emergence,” one CBOT floor broker said.
    There’s also some concern that if the slow pace of wheat development continues due to cool temperatures, it will limit the number of double-cropped soybean acres planted after the southern Midwest wheat harvest.
    The soft red winter wheat crop is coming along strong but in the top SRW states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri only 16 percent of the crop had headed as of last week, below 43 percent a year ago.

Photo: Soft red winter wheat field near Hopkinsville, Kentucky, taken the second week of May.

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