U.S. Corn Planting Gains as Farmers Work Around Rain

(Corrects week ago planting estimate in eighth paragraph. This story was first published April 30.)

U.S. farmers worked around Midwest rain last week to increase corn planting, boosting expectations that they will sow the most acres since 1937 and produce a bigger harvest than last year’s drought-damaged crop.

About 53 percent of the corn crop was planted as of yesterday, up from 28 percent a week earlier and 12 percent a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. The average for the previous five years is 27 percent. The percentage planted is second only to the record for the 17th week of the year of 68 percent in 2010.

An estimated 15 percent of the plants had emerged from the ground, compared with 4 percent a year earlier, the USDA said. The average emergence for the prior five years was 6 percent.

“Overall, corn planting progress is very fast, and warmer temperatures this week will aid emergence,” Bill Gentry, a farmer and a broker at Risk Management Commodities Inc. in Lafayette, Indiana, said in a telephone interview before the report. “There are a number of areas with dry subsoil that will need regular rains throughout the growing season to reach full yield potential.”

The report was issued after the close of trading on the Chicago Board of Trade, where corn futures for July delivery rose 1.4 percent to settle at $6.3425 a bushel. The most-active contract dropped 1.5 percent this month on speculation that rapid U.S. planting will boost yields.

Farmers are expected to increase corn sowing by 4.3 percent to 95.864 million acres this year, the most in 75 years, the USDA said on March 30, after surveying growers.

Soybean Planting Rises

About 12 percent of the soybean crop was planted, compared with 6 percent a week ago and the previous five-year average of 5 percent, the USDA said.

About 74 percent of the spring-wheat crop was seeded as of yesterday, up from 57 percent a week earlier, the department said. The average for the date for the previous five years is 32 percent. Plant emergence rose to 30 percent from 18 percent a week earlier and 8 percent on average the prior five years, the agency said.

The winter-wheat crop was in better shape than a year earlier, as above-normal rains in parts of the southern Great Plains and Midwest boosted crop conditions, USDA said.

An estimated 64 percent of the crop was in good or excellent condition, compared with 63 percent a week earlier, the USDA said. During the same week last year, 34 percent had the top ratings.

Cotton planting was 26 percent completed, compared with 18 percent a week earlier and 19 percent on average the prior five years, the USDA said. Rice planting in the top six producing states was 72 percent completed, up from 65 percent a week earlier and 56 percent on average from 2007-2011.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Wilson in Chicago at jwilson29@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net.

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