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USDA crop progress: Corn fails to reach the halfway mark

USDA says just 49% of the crop has been planted, with soybeans also significantly behind.

Ben Potter, Senior editor

May 20, 2019

3 Min Read
Ponding in field after spring rains
Jen Koukol

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, but this month has seen plenty of additional wet weather (with even more in the forecasts) – pushing spring planting progress well below normal. That was evident in the latest USDA crop progress report, out Monday afternoon.

For corn, the agency estimates 49% of the crop has now been planted as of May 19. That’s a big jump from 30% the week prior but remains significantly behind 2018’s pace of 78% and a prior five-year average of 80%. Analysts expected USDA to report progress of 50%.

Only nine of the top 18 production states have planted at least half of their corn crop so far this spring, including Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Rain-soaked Indiana (14%) and Ohio (9%) have made the least progress at this time.

Another 19% of the corn crop is emerged – up from 10% the prior week but far behind 2018’s pace of 47% and the prior five-year average of 49%.


Soybean planting progress is also off to a sluggish start, with just 19% planted. That’s up from 9% the prior week but well below 2018’s pace of 53% and the prior five-year average of 47%. Analysts expected USDA to show progress reaching 22% this past week. Five states – Illinois (9%), Indiana (6%), Missouri (9%), Ohio (4%) and South Dakota (4%) – have only made single-digit progress so far.

Soybean emergence is at 5%, compared to 24% in 2018 and the prior five-year average of 17%.


Spring wheat planting progress managed to exceed analyst expectations of 63% after USDA reported that 70% of the crop is now in the ground. This year’s pace is still moderately behind 2018’s 76% and the prior five-year average of 80%, however.


And although analysts expected winter wheat crop quality to decline to 63% rated good-to-excellent, USDA raised its forecasts to reach 66% rated good-to-excellent. Another 26% of the crop is rated fair (down from 28% a week ago), with the remaining 8% rated poor or very poor (unchanged from last week).

"Winter wheat ratings continue to improve, despite frequent rains in many parts of the growing region," said Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. "Our crop models based on the rates added a quarter bushel per acre on average to yield potential, with the mid-point of the forecasts up to 51.1 bushels per acre nationwide."

Physiologically, 54% of the winter wheat crop is now headed, up from 42% a week ago but behind the five-year average of 66%.



Other crop updates in the latest report include:

  • Cotton – 44% planted (versus 26% a week ago)

  • Rice – 73% planted (versus 55% a week ago)

  • Sorghum – 26% planted (versus 24% a week ago)

  • Peanuts – 63% planted (versus 40% a week ago)

  • Sugarbeets – 90% planted (versus 63% a week ago)

About the Author(s)

Ben Potter

Senior editor, Farm Futures

Senior Editor Ben Potter brings two decades of professional agricultural communications and journalism experience to Farm Futures. He began working in the industry in the highly specific world of southern row crop production. Since that time, he has expanded his knowledge to cover a broad range of topics relevant to agriculture, including agronomy, machinery, technology, business, marketing, politics and weather. He has won several writing awards from the American Agricultural Editors Association, most recently on two features about drones and farmers who operate distilleries as a side business. Ben is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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