USDA reports corn plantings increasing, but still behind last year

06 May 2013 23:06  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--With a majority of field work being slowed by damp ground, US agricultural producers were still able to gain some traction on the spring season, as corn plantings climbed to 12%, according to Monday’s release of the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Weekly Crop progress.

With small windows of favourable weather over the past week, sowings of the vital grain increased by seven percentage points from only 5% of this year's corn crop having been planted as of last week. Agricultural analysts were expecting the report would see numbers around 15-17%.

In 2012, farmers were closing in on the end of planting season by this time, with 69% of the corn crop planted but under more accommodating weather conditions. The report's five-year average for this time of year is 47% of acreage planted.

For the first time this year, the report released data on soybean planting, and like corn the wet fields and abundance of rain have hindered farmers' work. Currently 2% of the soybean crop is planted, compared with 22% by this time in 2012. The five-year planting average is 12%.

The other major commodity, cotton, is also crawling along, with 17% planted compared with 35% last year and 27% for the past five years.

The slow pace of the planting season has created discussion that the record acreage predicted for corn this spring could be reduced due to a season already running several weeks behind or the decision to plant soybeans instead.

In terms of fertilizer, the late factor may see a shift away from ammonia as the key input over to nitrogen solutions that can be applied post-emergence.

This increasing sentiment has added worries to a market that has seen a lack of new demand for crop nutrients and a slow but steady deterioration of pricing for ammonia, which last month saw May contracts for Tampa settle at $587/tonne (€446/tonne) CFR (cost and freight).

With expectations that the weather woes are decreasing, May corn futures took a sudden fall to close on Monday down 20.6 cents to $6.79/bushel. Soybean futures took in dip as well, with the May contract closing down 10.4 cents to end at $14.44/bushel.

The USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate report for May will be released on Friday.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Mark Milam
+1 713 525 2653

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