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U.S. Corn, Soybean Seeding Gained Before Midwest Rain

May 7 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. farmers accelerated corn and soybean planting last week ahead of weekend rains in the Midwest that will spur seed emergence and plant growth.

About 71 percent of the corn crop was sown as of yesterday, up from 53 percent a week earlier and 32 percent a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. The average for the previous five years is 47 percent.

An estimated 32 percent of the plants had emerged from the ground, compared with 15 percent a week earlier and 6 percent a year earlier, the USDA said. The average emergence for the prior five years was 13 percent.

“The potential for a good crop is increasing and farmers may end up planting more acres,” Joseph Vaclavik, a senior vice president at Straits Financial LLC in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “Corn planting should be wrapping up in the next week and farmers will move ahead on soybeans.”

The report was issued after the close of trading on the Chicago Board of Trade, where corn futures for July delivery fell 0.25 cent to settle at $6.20 a bushel. The most-active contract has dropped 4.1 percent this year, partly on speculation that rapid U.S. planting will boost yields.

Increased Acreage

About 95.864 million acres may be planted with corn this year, up 4.3 percent from 2011 and the most in 75 years, the USDA said on March 30, after surveying farmers.

About 24 percent of the soybean crop was planted, compared with 12 percent a week earlier and the previous five-year average of 11 percent, the USDA said.

About 84 percent of the spring-wheat crop was seeded as of yesterday, up from 74 percent a week earlier, the department said. The average for the date for the previous five years is 49 percent. Plant emergence rose to 47 percent from 30 percent a week earlier and 17 percent, on average, the prior five years, the agency said.

The winter-wheat crop was in better shape than a year earlier, the USDA said, helped by above-normal rainfall in parts of the southern Great Plains and Midwest.

An estimated 63 percent of the crop was in good or excellent condition, compared with 33 percent a year earlier, the USDA said. About 64 percent of the plants got the top ratings a week earlier.

Cotton planting was 36 percent completed, compared with 26 percent a week earlier and 28 percent, on average, the prior five years, the USDA said. Rice seeding in the top six producing states was 77 percent completed, up from 72 percent a week earlier and the average of 68 percent 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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