With just 52 percent of the U.S. corn crop having broken through the ground as of May 25, some analysts are growing concerned about the prospect of the crop''s eventual yields. By the same date last year, 80 percent of the crop had emerged; on a five-year average, 76 percent of the crop would have started to grow.
 
According to USDA''s weekly crop progress report., 88 percent of the U.S. corn crop had been planted as of May 25, compared to 96 percent last year and 94 percent for the five-year average.
Many of the harvested corn estimates were pegged on a 153- to 154-bushel-per-acre national average. Some analysts now admit that may be a generous estimate. For example, Darrel Good, University of Illinois agricultural economist, points to the crop''s slow emergence as reason for concern, especially  as summer weather unfolds, which always brings with it concerns about drought or a shortened growing season. "We pretty much need ideal conditions," he says. 

Of course, corn isn''t the only crop of concern for pork producers. As of May 25, 52 percent of the U.S. soybean crop was in the fields. That compares with 74 percent last year and a five-year average of 67 percent. Soybean planting can be pushed a bit later into the season without the same kind of determent that corn faces.
 
According to USDA, this year''s soybean planting is a bit ahead, as the market expected 45 percent to 50 percent of the soybean crop would be planted by now.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, USDA announced that 24 million acres of Conservation Reserve Program acres would be released for cattle forage needs. Of course, that doesn''t offer relief to pork producers, who earlier begged Washington to allow more CRP land to be opened up to corn plantings.
 
As corn continues to move into ethanol plants and the United States exports corn to feed the world''s feed-grain demand, the commodity markets-- and producers'' feed costs-- will react sharply to any crop yield concerns.