Weather has delayed corn planting past the ideal time, in several Midwest states, most notably Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

As these are three large corn-producing states, there is some concern farmers may begin moving acreage to soybeans. That action could shrink corn supplies and push prices higher than it's been in the last several years. While some corn acreage may be moved to soybeans, it's too early to make the call on feed-grain costs yet.

USDA's weekly Crop Progress report for May 26 showed the top 18 corn-producing states had completed 83 percent of their corn-planting intentions. That compares to 94 percent at this time last year and 94 percent for the five-year average for this timeframe.

The states furthest behind last year are Indiana with 43 percent planted compared with 100 percent planted a year ago; Illinois with 74 percent planted vs. 99 percent; and Ohio with 45 percent planted, compared with 100 percent. Corn emerging was 53 percent for the top 18 corn-producing states this year, compared with 78 percent at this time a year ago. Those 18 states planted 93 percent of last year's corn acreage.

If you're looking for cheap feed-grain prices, this activity is a cause for concern, but not panic. Keep your eye on the crop-progress report, which comes out each Monday and can be found at http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/reports/nassr/field/pcr-bb/2001/2002/.

The real test will come during the growing season. Barring a widespread drought, corn yields will likely be near record as they have been the last several years. With few weather problems in recent years, corn supplies have remained large, so it's unlikely there will be a shortage or a sharp price increase.

However, if you want to reduce your risk of a rise in feed costs, consider options that lock corn in at current prices, which are in the $2-range in most markets.