Planting Continues to Be Delayed by Weather

La Nina is fueling wet weather in Midwest and drought in the Southern Plains.

Published on: Apr 27, 2011

Seemingly continuous rain and some late season snow have left much of the Corn Belt wet and unplanted.  Last year at this time nearly half, or 46%, of the corn crop was planted.  Twenty-three percent is the five year average. Still, with all the wet weather USDA reports that 9% of the expected corn crop has been planted. Some believe that next week's report will show the corn planting pace will be among the slowest on record.

The driest area where some corn planting could take place this week is in Nebraska and Kansas, and a few fields in parts of southern South Dakota and western Iowa could see farmers get in the fields. For the eastern part of the corn planting area, much rain has fallen from Missouri and on east.  In the Ohio Valley, the Ohio River is receiving water from its flooding tributaries. Cool temperatures have not helped either.

With forecasts calling for more rain, especially in the eastern half of the Corn Belt, corn planting pace will not pick up or even begin until the sun comes out more often, temperatures warm a bit, and the land dries out.

Meteorologists say the stormy Midwest spring is being fueled by the same La Nina weather phenomenon that is behind the drought gripping Southern Plains states such as Texas and Oklahoma, where the wheat crop planted last fall is shriveling from thirst even as Minnesota fields are too muddy and cold to plant with seed. According to the USDA, 72% of the Texas wheat crop is in very poor to poor condition.

Food and textile executives are paying close attention to weather this planting season because strong demand and tight supplies of key crops are pushing their ingredient costs to high levels. Prices of Midwest corn, Southern Plains wheat, and cotton have doubled from a year ago; soybean prices are up 40%. Food makers and meatpackers are counting on a planting boon to replenish supplies and push down crop prices.