Corn, Wheat, Cotton Planting Ahead of Average, USDA Says

U.S. corn, spring-wheat and cotton planting was ahead of the prior five-year average after unusually warm March weather and April rains improved soil conditions, the government said.

About 17 percent of the corn crop, the world’s biggest, was planted as of April 15, up from 7 percent a week earlier and 5 percent a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. The average was 5 percent at this time of year from 2007 to 2011.

“Early planting progress and beneficial weather is always viewed by the trade as negative” for prices, Tim Hannagan, a senior grain analyst for PFG Best Inc. in Chicago, said in an e-mail. “Early in means early out, with key yield development for corn ahead of the July heat and dryness.”

The report was issued after the close of trading on the Chicago Board of Trade, where corn futures for July delivery fell 1 percent to $6.0725 a bushel. The most-active contract has dropped 5.7 percent this month on speculation that rapid U.S. planting will boost yields. The report was delayed by a day, after an electrical fire yesterday in one of the USDA’s main Washington offices caused a power failure.

Farmers are expected to increase corn sowing by 4.3 percent to 95.864 million acres this year, the most since 1937, the USDA said on March 30, after surveying grower.

About 30 percent of the corn-producing region has dry subsoil, down from 78 percent last week, after some fields received more than twice the normal amount of rainfall, Mike Tannura, the president of T-Storm Weather LLC in Chicago, said in a report today.

Wheat Crops

About 37 percent of the spring-wheat crop was seeded as of April 15, up from 5 percent a year earlier, the department said. The average for the date for the previous five years is 9 percent.

The winter-wheat crop was in better condition than a year earlier, as above-normal rains in parts of the southern Great Plains and the Midwest during the past month improved yield potential, Tannura said

An estimated 64 percent of the crop was in good or excellent condition, up from 61 percent a week earlier, the USDA said. During the same week last year, 36 percent had the top ratings.

The U.S. winter-wheat crop was valued at $10.185 billion last year, or about 71 percent of the total wheat harvest, according to USDA figures. The grain, used to make bread and all-purpose flour, is planted in September and goes dormant in winter. The crop resumes growth in spring and is harvested between May and July.

Cotton planting was 13 percent completed, compared with 9 percent a week earlier and 9 percent on average the prior five years, the USDA said. Rice planting in the top six producing states was 56 percent complete, up from 37 percent a week earlier and 29 percent on average from 2007-2011.

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