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Crop progress: Corn plantings still playing catch-up

Soybean plantings move past the halfway mark.

Ben Potter, Senior editor

May 20, 2024

2 Min Read
Planting corn
Getty Images/ArtistGNDphotography

USDA’s latest crop progress report, out Monday afternoon and covering the week through May 19, showed corn plantings still a bit behind the prior five-year average but has mostly caught up as more farmers have been able to jump back into spring fieldwork over the past several days. Soybean plantings passed the halfway mark, meantime, and are still modestly ahead of the prior five-year average. Winter wheat quality ratings unexpectedly shifted a point lower.

Corn plantings moved from 49% a week ago up to 70% through Sunday. That was more progress than analysts were expecting after offering an average trade guess of 68%. North Carolina (98%), Texas (85%) and Minnesota (81%) are leading the way among the top 18 production states so far. Nationwide progress is still moderately below 2023’s pace of 76% and slightly behind the prior five-year average of 71%.

Corn emergence moved from 23% a week ago up to 40% through Sunday. That puts this season’s effort behind 2023’s pace of 46% but slightly ahead of the prior five-year average of 39%.

Soybean plantings improved from 35% last week up to 52% through May 19. That’s noticeably below 2023’s pace of 61% but still ahead of the prior five-year average of 49%. Mississippi (86%), Arkansas (82%) and Louisiana (79%) have made the most progress among the top 18 production states so far. Emergence is now at 26%, versus the prior five-year average of 21%.

Planting progress for some southern row crops continues to move forward, meantime, including:

  • Cotton = 44% (up from 33% last week)

  • Rice = 92% (up from 84% last week)

  • Peanuts = 54% (up from 40% last week)

Winter wheat quality ratings faded a point lower, with 49% of the crop rated in good-to-excellent condition through Sunday. Analysts were expecting to see conditions improve a point, in contrast. Another 33% of the crop is rated fair (up one point from last week), with the remaining 18% rated poor or very poor (unchanged from last week).

Physiologically, 69% of the crop is now headed, up from 57% a week ago. That puts this season’s effort moderately ahead of 2023’s pace of 58% and the prior five-year average of 57%.

Spring wheat plantings moved from 61% a week ago up to 79% through May 19. That’s favorable to both 2023’s pace of 57% and the prior five-year average of 65%. And 43% of the crop is now emerged, versus 2023’s pace of 27% and the prior five-year average of 33%.

Click here for more data from the latest UDSA crop progress report, including other regional crop planting updates, plus a state-by-state look at topsoil moisture, days suitable for fieldwork and more.

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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