You may have eaten some of the ice cream at the Farm Progress Show, frozen with the help of a Rumely oil pull engine. Although the ice cream was good, the engine is fascinating as it operates with a series of fits and starts. And the 2013 planting season has been the same way, a season of fits and starts that just could seem to get going. Just as you waited for the single cylinder engine to fire again, you have waited for the opportunity to get back in the field and plant for a day until there was an interlude of three days of rain and four days of slow drying. There may be several million acres that will go unplanted this year, but farmers will not celebrating with any Rumely ice cream.

When USDA’s Crop Progress report is issued Monday, planted corn acreage will not grow very much because of the continued wet weather across the Cornbelt. Actually, soybean acreage may increase more than corn, if some of those would-be corn acres will be converted to a statistic on a prevented planting insurance claim.

Iowa State University marketing specialist Chad Hart says the market expected two million corn acres to not be planted, with half of that possibly planted into soybeans. That would push soybean acres close to the 80 million mark, as corn falls closer to the 90 million mark. Actual data will be released June 28 in USDA’s Planted Acreage report. He says, “On average over the last 20 years, corn acreage ends up roughly 1.2 million acres below the March planting intentions while soybean acreage usually gains 1.2 million. So the shift from corn to soybeans is a typical occurrence, the shock this year may be in the size of the shift and the amount of ground that may stay as prevented planting.”   

In the middle of many fields are flocks of geese and ducks enjoying the shallow lakes surrounded by emerging corn. Those will be candidates for replant, if the final few acres on the side of the field ever get planted. In the midst of unplanted acreage and that to be replanted is 63% of the U.S. corn crop which is described as good to excellent. That is not the 70% that is typical for this time of year.

Hart says his yield model is based on those crop condition ratings throughout the growing season. While it is early, it is already below the trend yield for 2013. And Hart says, “Putting this all together, we are looking at lower acreage and below trend-line yields. That implies lower production than USDA initial projections. But that does not mean we are necessarily looking at a small crop. For example, say corn acreage comes in at 95 million acres and yields are at 155 bushels per acre (that is nearly 9 bushels off of USDA’s trend and 3 bushels below their current estimate). That equates to 13.5 billion corn crop, a record crop by 400 million bushels.”

Hart says the continued potential for a crop of more than 13 billion bushels is the continued reason for the market not getting concerned about the planting delays. He says the current price trend of the low $5 range will hold until the USDA’s planted acreage report.

Summary:

With the completion of corn planting not yet in sight, progress has been slowed by uncooperative weather. Currently, the rating of the crop is a bit below average; however acreage is large enough for the market not to be concerned about the delays in planting. With a potential for a crop of more than 13 billion bushels and demand considerably less than that, prices will remain in their current trend.