U.S. farmers rushed to plant corn last week as warm, dry weather replaced the recent cold and rain and by week's end 19% of the crop was in the ground compared with the 28% average, USDA said on Monday.
The 19% was considerably better than last-year's 5% pace and slightly better than Farm Futures' forecast of 17%.
USDA's first soybean planting report of the season showed 3% was in the ground, which matched Farm Futures' forecast and was slightly behind 2013's 4% pace.
"Corn and soybean planting progress was in line with what I expected, with the trade overall expected more got done last week than USDA observers found," said Bryce Knorr, Farm Futures senior grain analysts. "This should lend support to corn, headed into May."
In Iowa, the largest corn producer, 15% of the crop was planted, compared with 2% a year ago and 33% average. Recent rain increased soil moisture, but the northwest remained the driest where topsoil moisture was rated 17% very short. Iowa soybeans were 1% planted versus the 8% average.
"Cool soil temps remain a concern for farmers planting in the northern part of the state. Statewide there were three days suitable for fieldwork," Iowa's state report said.
In Illinois, the No.2 corn state, 32% of the crop was planted nearly matching the 33% average pace and a big improvement from 5% a week ago.
Nebraska said corn planting jumped to 20%, close the 22% average and well ahead of last year's 3%. The state averaged 5.3 days suitable for fieldwork. Rain fell in eastern and south central counties, while drought persisted in western counties.
Indiana corn planting advanced to 8% from last week's 1%, while the average was 26%. Soybeans were 1% planted versus the 8% average.
Three percent of the country's corn had emerged, with most of in the central and southern areas with Texas corn 55% emerged, North Carolina 32% and Tennessee 12%. The national average was 6%.
Winter wheat still struggling
Winter wheat remained in mostly fair to very poor condition as dry weather persisted, and 18% had headed, compared with the 26% average.
As of Sunday, 5% was rated excellent, 28% good, 33% fair, 20% poor and 14% very poor. A week ago, the percentages were 5%, 29%, 33%, 20%, and 13%, respectively.
"Winter wheat yield potential slipped another 1/3 of a bushel per acre, with most of the setbacks on the Plains, though ratings in Michigan plummeted too," said Knorr. "Kansas City wheat could have one more run left in it over the next couple of weeks, into the May 9 USDA report, when the agency reports its first monthly production estimate of the season."
In Kansas, the crop deteriorated slightly with 1% excellent, 20% good, 42% fair, 24% poor and 13% very poor, compared with last week's 1%,, 23%, 44%, 21% and 11%, respectively. East and north central Kansas had rain last week, but the driest areas in the western were largely missed by rain.
In Oklahoma and Texas, 65% of the wheat in both states was rated poor to very poor.
Soft red winter wheat fared better with Illinois wheat 62% good to excellent, Indiana's 62%, and Ohio's 49%. Indiana noted frost damage to a small amount of soft red winter wheat there. However, Michigan's wheat dipped to
Spring wheat was 18% planted and 5% emerged, versus the averages of 30% and 9%. North Dakota, the top spring wheat producer, was 3% planted, compared with the 19% average.
Cotton planting advanced to 13% from the previous week's 9%, but trailed the 18% average. California and Arizona remained the leaders at 95% and 65%, while Louisiana jumped past Texas for third with 17% from 1% a week earlier.
Oats were 34% planted and 12% emerged, compared with the averages of 63% and 45%. Sorghum was 27% planted versus the 26% average; while rice was 45% planted versus the 56% average.