The Tale of Two Corn Belts

May 12, 2009

illinois-field-may-2009The U.S. crop planting gap between states east and west of the Mississippi River grew last week, with the east far behind, plagued by cloudy skies, chilly temperatures and several inches of rain in some spots. 
The U.S. Agriculture Department reported late Monday that 48 percent of the corn crop was in the ground on Sunday, lagging the normal pace of 71 percent by the second week in May. Soybean planting was also slow — 14 percent seeded, versus the typical pace of 25 percent by now. 
But soybeans can be planted into June, with only limited yield drag. That is not the case with corn as farmers have just another two weeks to plant corn without suffering too greatly on yields. 
“This year is truly the year of the east versus the west,” said Don Roose, analyst with U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa.  “Late planted years struggle with yield. Late planted years tend to have acreage switches” intended corn acres to soybeans. 
East of the Mississippi River, big producers like Illinois and Indiana have a mere 10 to 11 percent of their corn seeded while states west of the river were nearly done. Farmers in the top corn-soy state of Iowa have 81 percent of their corn planted. 
The three “I” states grow about 40 percent of the total U.S. corn crop. 
The weather forecast does not offer much consolation to farmers in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Missouri — all struggling with heavy rains. Off-and-on rains will move across the Corn Belt all week. 
“It is looking like a very wet week coming up — not enough periods of drier, warmer weather to allow farmers to get out there and plant this crop, especially in the eastern belt,” DTN Meteorlogix forecast Mike Palmerino said. 
The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings along the Mississippi, Ohio, Wabash and White Rivers.
Photo: Northern Illinois field taken May 10 by Chris Stebbins. Illinois corn and soybean planting is lagging historical averages due to a wet, cool spring.

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