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Feedback from the Field: Corn planting progress accelerates

Photo courtesy Jacquie Holland puppy on feet of tractor driver
Gus Holland, 3 months, supervises corn planting at Holland Cattle Company in northwestern Illinois last weekend. Gus played an integral role in finishing up planting activities for the farm.
Drought concerns rise as corn planting progress nears 50% and soybeans near quarter mark.

Editor’s Note: The Feedback from the Field series is an open-sourced platform for U.S. growers to share and investigate growing conditions across the country. Want to get in on the action?! Click here to take our ongoing farmer survey on crop progress at any point in the 2021 grain season. Our Google Map, updated daily, provides all past responses.

The U.S. corn crop is nearly half planted, according to the latest Crop Progress report from USDA. As of May 2, 46% of the nation's corn is in the ground, compared with the five-year average of 36% and last week's 17%. The figure is in line with last year's 48%.

Soybean planting also surged forward, jumping 16 percentage points from last week. As of May 2, 24% of the nation's soybeans have been planted, which is ahead of both last year's 21% and the five-year average of 11%.

Lack of rain has been a concern, according to growers sharing their Feedback from the Field.

“[We] need rain badly,” a corn grower in southeastern Texas fretted. “Very dry soil conditions,” a north central Iowa farmer echoed. “Tiles are not running. Unless we receive timely rains during the growing season, we will likely experience significant yield reductions in this area this year.”

“With July 2021 corn moving over $7/bushel and input prices on the rise, maintaining yields will be the market’s primary focus – and farmers’ largest concern – in the coming weeks,” said Farm Futures grain market analyst Jacquie Holland.

Some growers are reporting plentiful soil moisture. An eastern Nebraska grower reported excellent planting conditions for early soybean planting progress. “Good soil moisture,” the farmer reported at the Feedback from the Field ongoing farmer survey.

But moisture is always a concern.

“Soil moisture levels across much of the Midwest and Plains are low enough that rain showers forecast over the next couple days should not significantly slow planting," Holland said. "But it raises more long-term yield concerns if the newly planted crops do not receive timely precipitation in the next month.”

And don't forget cold.

At Holland's family farm in Illinois, her brother finished planting the corn on Sunday. 

“And – most importantly – my niece’s sweet corn patch was the final 4.5 acres to go in the ground this spring,” she said.

Follow along with the season:

Farm Futures’ 2021 Feedback from the Field series kicks off

Cold soil temperatures, rain, snow hold back corn planting progress

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