Spring planting is way behind schedule in the eastern Corn Belt and, as this week's crop progress report revealed, farmers in some regions may be forced to plant those acres in soybeans instead.
The wet spring has slowed field work across a region that accounts for somewhere between a quarter and a third of the nation's corn crop. In Illinois, 10 percent of the expected crop has been planted. Typically more than 80 percent would be in the ground by now. Indiana has 11 percent of its crop planted rather than the usual 70 percent and Ohio farmers have planted less than a quarter of their corn rather than the usual two-thirds by early May.
In the major corn producing states, Iowa is reporting the best results, with 81 percent of the corn crop already in the ground.
By May 10, producers nationally had planted 14 percent of their soybean acreage, up three points from last year but 11 points slower than the average pace. As farmers continue to battle soggy fields and wet weather, soybean planting in Illinois and North Dakota has yet to begin.
Wet conditions also are increasing concerns about disease in winter wheat on the southeastern Plains. Cool, damp conditions are hampering fieldwork and the emergence of spring-sown small grains on the northern High Plains.
Nationally, 35 percent of the spring wheat crop has been planted, less than half of the tally this time last year. The most progress was made in South Dakota, where 85 percent of its acreage was planted.
Planting delays can cut production because crops aren't mature enough to benefit from the early July heat they need to grow.