Cold soil temperatures, widespread rains, and as much as 15-18 inches of snow cover are not conducive to planting in the Corn Belt. Subsequently, only 2 percent of the US corn crop has been planted, as of April 15. That compares to 16 percent at this time in 2012, but last spring was a polar opposite of 2013. 

While Texas corn growers have more than half of their crop planted, North Carolina is  28 percent planted. Tennessee is the only other state in double digits with 11 percent. 

When it comes to the 12 primary Corn Belt states, tally that region at 1 percent planted.  A year ago over 12 percent of the Corn Belt was planted with corn. The USDA released its first weekly Crop Progress report on April 15, and details follow.

In addition to the initial report on corn planting, the USDA provided an overview of the US winter wheat crop. Nationally, an average of 4 percent of the wheat is headed at this time, compared to 28 percent last year, and 12 percent for the five year average. 

Currently, 31 percent of the crop is rated poor to very poor, with 34 percent fair and 36 percent good to excellent, with only 5 percent in the latter category. 

In 2012, only 11 percent was poor to very poor and 64 percent was good to excellent.  In severe condition is the South Dakota crop at 73 percent poor to very poor. In serious condition are the crops in Nebraska and Texas where 50 percent of the crop is poor to very poor condition. 

Also reporting a substantial amount of wheat in poor to very poor condition are Colorado at 42 percent, Oklahoma and Ohio at 37 percent and  Kansas with 33 percent of the crop in that condition. Spring wheat planting is negligible at this point, which is usually 13 percent based on the five year average. None has been planted in Minnesota or North Dakota and only 6 percent in South Dakota. 

At this time last year, half to three-quarters of the spring wheat had been planted in those states.


Cool, wet weather was the main story throughout much of the state last week.  With only 1.5 days suitable for fieldwork last week, not much fieldwork was completed. A few operations were able to start planting corn but most were forced out of the fields by rain early in the week. Topsoil moisture was rated at 1 percent very short, 4 percent short, 70 percent adequate, and 25 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture was rated at 4 percent very short, 17 percent short, 75 percent adequate, and 4 percent surplus. Cold soil temperatures are another factor delaying a strong start to corn planting.


Heavy rain showers arrived mid week which left soils too muddy for field work across most of the state. Less than one percent of the intended corn acreage has been planted at this time compared with 21 percent last year and 6 percent for the 5-year average. A few scattered fields of soybeans have been reported to be planted. 81 percent of the winter wheat is fair to good, with only 4 percent jointed.  Topsoil moisture is 62 percent adequate and 34 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture is 72 percent adequate and 15 percent surplus.


For the week ending April 14, 2013, central and eastern areas of Kansas saw precipitation in the form of rain, ice, snow and isolated hail. Topsoil moisture conditions improved in areas that received the moisture; however, more is needed to have an impact on subsoil moisture supplies. Temperatures for the week were below normal with lows falling below freezing in the western half of the State. Producers were concerned about the impact of the low temperatures on their wheat crop but it is too early to determine the amount of damage. Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 15 percent very short, 25 percent short, 55 percent adequate, and 5 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 36 percent very short, 37 percent short, 26 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.


One day was suitable for field work in Michigan during the week ending April 14 according to the USDA, NASS, Great Lakes Region. Heavy precipitation in the form of rain or snow fell everyday last week. Snowfall accumulation totals in the northern reaches of the state ranged from 6 to 12 inches. Very little field work occurred. Water ponded in low areas of fields. Soil temperatures remained cold. Wheat in the southern part of the State has broken dormancy and began to green. Wheat in the northern part of the State remains dormant. Topsoil moisture is 29 percent adequate and 71 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture is 45 percent adequate and 45 percent surplus.


A noteworthy storm brought widespread heavy snow, rain and ice late in the week. High winds caused tree damage and power outages in southwest Minnesota. The snow covered fields in the northern parts are not showing signs of significant melting. This continues to worry farmers about the potential of flooding from rapid snow melt. The consistent rain and snow provided much needed topsoil moisture relief where the soil would allow for absorption. For the week ending April 14, 2013, only 0.1 days were rated suitable for fieldwork statewide, compared with last year’s 5.0. Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 5 percent very short, 17 percent short, 61 percent adequate, and 17 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 23 percent very short, 43 percent short, 31 percent adequate, and 3 percent surplus.


Wet weather across the State limited tillage and planting progress. There were 1.8 days suitable for fieldwork. The northern 3 districts and the west-central district had less than 1 day suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supply was 3 percent short, 70 percent adequate, and 27 percent surplus. The northeast and west-central districts were rated 45 percent or more surplus. Subsoil moisture supply was 9 percent very short, 24 percent short, 62 percent adequate and 5 percent surplus. Spring tillage was 33 percent, compared to 69 percent last year, and the 5 year average (normal) of 39 percent.  Corn planting was 8 percent complete, 13 days behind last year and 6 days behind normal. The southeast district was 44 percent planted. Corn emerged was 1 percent.  Winter wheat condition was rated 1 percent poor, 24 percent fair, 62 percent good, and 13 percent excellent. Winter wheat heading was reported in the southeast district.


For the week ending of April 14, 2013, precipitation in the form of rain, snow and hail crossed the state with many locations receiving 1 to 3 inches of moisture. This boosted topsoil moisture supplies, but shut down spring fieldwork activities. Topsoil temperatures declined and were in the low 40’s in many eastern and southern counties. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 20 percent very short, 33 short, 45 adequate, and 2 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 55 percent very short, 38 short, 7 adequate, and 0 surplus. Wheat conditions rated 17 percent very poor, 33 poor, 38 fair, 12 good, and 0 excellent. Wheat jointed was 3 percent, behind last year’s 34 and 10 average.

North Dakota

For the week ending April 14, 2013, a weekend blizzard dumped from 4 to 20 inches of heavy, wet snow across much of the state. This new snow will delay even further the start of fieldwork and may cause a higher likelihood of spring flooding. Spring planting is being delayed further by the continued winter like weather. Although moisture supplies improved, the 2013 planting progress continues to be well behind last year’s early progress and also behind the 5 year average. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 10 percent short, 69 percent adequate, and 17 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 6 percent very short, 28 percent short, 60 percent adequate, and 6 percent surplus.


Three days were suitable for field work in Ohio during the week ending April 14 according to the USDA, NASS, Great Lakes Region. With warmer than usual temperatures, some farmers were able to make progress on field work early in the week.  Heavy precipitation from Wednesday on, especially in the northern parts of the State, helped increase soil moisture but halted field activities late in the week. The warmer weather, coupled with precipitation, improved wheat condition. Topsoil moisture is 50 percent adequate and 48 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture is 63 percent adequate and 22 percent surplus. Winter wheat condition is 87 percent fair to good. One percent of the corn was planted in the past week, compared to 9 percent last year and 3 percent for the five year average. 

South Dakota 

For the week ending April 14, 2013, snow and freezing rain brought badly needed moisture to parts of the state and kept temperatures colder than normal. Average snow depth across the state was reported at 6.6 inches. Producers anticipate a late planting season for most crops. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 17 percent very short, 27 percent short, 52 percent adequate, and 4 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 39 percent very short, 44 percent short, 16 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus. Winter wheat condition rated 30 percent very poor, 43 percent poor, 22 percent fair, 5 percent good, and 0 percent excellent. Six percent of spring wheat has been seeded, compared to 79 percent last year and 26 percent average.


Wet and chilly weather kept farmers out of fields this week. A series of storms brought heavy rain across southern Wisconsin and snow, sleet and freezing rain to the north. Water was reportedly standing in fields where soils are highly saturated or still frozen. Rivers and streams were reportedly at or near flood stage in some areas. Topsoil moisture was 32 percent surplus statewide. Temperatures remained below average and growing degree days were well below normal at all reporting stations. There were 0.0 days suitable for fieldwork this week. Statewide, spring tillage had not yet begun. Winter wheat was also greening up in some areas, though low temperatures and snowfall kept growth minimal. “Winter does not want to go away”


As the crop reporter in Wisconsin put it, “winter does not want to go away.” That is true throughout much of the Corn Belt, where cold soil temperatures and fields that were either ponded or snow-covered prevented much field activity. The market is beginning to take notice of the field conditions and the potential for another 10-days to two weeks before soils will be ready for cultivation and planting. At this point corn planting is well behind the pace of 2012, and somewhat behind the five-year average pace. Wheat crops in the Plains states are in sad shape with an abundance of acreage reported poor to very poor.