Crop planting by U.S. farmers continued at a brisk clip last week even though some activities were interrupted by rain – at least some of which was very welcome, reports the CME Group’s Steve Meyer and Len Steiner. USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report showed that 53% of the nation’s corn acres were planted as of April 29. That figure compares to 27% at the same time last year and an average of 27% over the past 5 years.

The weekly progress for this year, last year and the past five years appear on the chart at right as well as the progress figures for the fastest-planted corn crop (2010) and the slowest-planted corn crop (1993) since 1990. This week’s national 53% figure is the second highest on record, second only to the 68% of 2010. It is 1% higher than the 52% planting paces of 2005 and 2006.

Every one of the 18 states that are estimated in the report is ahead of its five-year-average progress for this point in the season. Most notable are Illinois at 79% planted (vs. 10% last year and a five-year average of 29%); Indiana at 70% (vs. 2% last year and 20% average over the past five years); and Ohio at 57% after being only 1% planted last year amid rain, rain and more rain.

Even the northern-tier states are well ahead of schedule, with Iowa at 50% (vs. an average of 32%); Minnesota at 48% (vs. 31% average); and North and South Dakota at 24% and 31%, respectively.
The report indicates that a quarter of the nation’s corn acres were seeded last week. Using the Planting Intentions number of 95.8 million acres, that means 24 million acres were planted – or nearly 3.5 million acres/day. That pace matches what we saw last year after May 1.

Soybean planting is just getting underway in most areas but the national figures are, like corn, well ahead of most previous years. Of the intended acres, 12% have been planted in the 18 surveyed states. That compares very favorably to 2% last year and 5% over the past five years.

As expected, the southern states are well along in soybean planting. Illinois, Indiana and Ohio have 13%, 28% and 16% of the intended soybean acres planted as of Sunday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s five-day precipitation forecast says the pace may slow somewhat this week.