Time is running short for John Brink to plant his corn crop.
The southern Illinois farmer had put just about 7% of the crop in the ground as of Friday following weeks of delays due to rain. This is a sharp contrast from typical years, when he would normally have finished planting already.
"We are way behind," he said via cellphone from one of his fields.
Farmers across the Midwest have similar stories. Wet weather has kept them out of their fields and pushed corn prices back near all-time highs set last month.
Corn on Friday climbed 11 1/4 cents, or 1.5%, to $7.59 1/2 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade, down 3% from last month's record. The market surged even as prices for wheat and soybeans eased ahead of the weekend.
The planting delays are prompting grain users, nervous about tight inventories, to snap up supplies left over from last year's harvest. They worry that corn from the next harvest won't be available until later than normal because crops that are planted late are normally harvested late.
Farmers such as Brink may give up on planting corn if the weather doesn't clear up soon. He said he would consider leaving the land empty and cashing in on crop insurance if he isn't able to plant in about two weeks.
"The clock's ticking," Brink said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will issue an update on planting in a weekly crop report Monday. Traders predict planting nationwide will be about 80% complete, down from 93% last year when the crop went in the ground quickly. As of Sunday, the crop was 63% planted, below the five-year average of 75% for that time of year.
Conditions look unfavorable for field work in the Midwestern Corn Belt next week. Rains are expected to start Saturday and linger in many areas through the end of the week.
"We're going to have seven days of rain," said Bill Wiebold, extension corn and soybean specialist at the University of Missouri.
Farmers have started to worry that persistent rains will prevent them from plantings soybeans, as well. Soybeans are planted in many of the same areas as corn but go in the ground later in the spring.
Soybeans on Friday rose 3/4 cent, or 0.05%, to $13.80 1/4 a bushel. Soft red winter wheat futures slipped 5 1/2 cents, or 0.7%, to $8.06 1/2 a bushel.
Ethanol for July delivery advanced 0.7% to $2.666 a gallon, while rice for July delivery rose 0.6% to $15.10 per hundredweight. Oats for July delivery were unchanged at $3.64 a bushel. Soyoil for July delivery was unchanged at 57.46 cents a pound, and soymeal for July delivery stumbled 0.2% to $360.60 per short ton.
At the Kansas City Board of Trade, hard red winter wheat for July delivery dropped 1.2% to $9.33 1/4 a bushel. Hard red spring wheat for July delivery lost 0.6% to $9.99 3/4 a bushel at the MGEX in Minneapolis.