U.S. crop producers have faced a cool, wet spring, but planting progress is underway. About 51 percent of the U.S. corn crop was in the ground as of May 11, which is a significant advancement from the previous week's 27 percent planted. It's also on pace with market expectations, which looks for 45 percent to 50 percent of the crop to be in the ground by that date.
USDA's weekly crop progress report showed that the 51 percent represents the corn crop planted in the 18 top producing states. It compares to 71 percent that was planted by this time last year and the five-year average of 77 percent.
Digging into the state numbers, however, there is reason for some lingering concern. Iowa had just 46 percent of its acres planted, compared to 70 percent last year, and a five-year average of 82 percent. Illinois was at 60 percent, cut that compares to 87 percent last year and a five-year average of 88 percent. Minnesota was lagging the most, currently at 32 percent versus 83 percent last year and 82 percent for a five-year average.
Beyond plantings, crop emergence is important as well. It's no surprise that it, too, is behind schedule. Only 11 percent of the corn has poked through the ground, compared to 32 percent last year and 33 percent for the five-year average.
The National Weather Service points to the prospects of rain at 15 percent to 30 percent for much of the Corn Belt this week. It's also worth noting that USDA has reduced its yield projection from 155.3 bushels per acre to 153.9 bushels per acre.
All eyes are on corn plantings as ethanol production, abundant animal supplies and strong global corn demand have made corn prices vulnerable to signs of a smaller than expected crop.