This week’s Crop Progress report from the USDA showed that many of nation’s planters are on a roll with 28 percent of corn in the ground, an increase of 11 percentage points from last week’s report.

The last time more than 20 percent of corn had been planted by this time of the month was in 2010, when producers in the top-18-producing states had already completed 50 percent of their corn planting. Even so, this year’s pace is well above last year’s report of 8 percent and the five-year average of 15 percent.

Six states are more than 50 percent done, with Tennessee once again leading the pack with 88 percent of corn in the ground. North Carolina (79 percent) and Kentucky (75 percent) are close behind, while Texas (65) continues to make slow progress after a surge in early April.  

Ohio also showed marked improvement. At this time last year, only 1 percent of the corn was in the ground in Ohio, compared to 34 percent this week. See how your state is doing here.

The USDA also reported 9 percent of corn now emerged, compared to 2 percent last week. Though 2010 had a faster pace for this week in April, the report also showed 7 percent of corn emerged. In 2011, the USDA didn’t report a higher percentage of emerged corn until mid-May.

Like the corn planting progress, states with the highest percentages of emerged corn include Tennessee (61 percent), Texas (53 percent) and North Carolina (47 percent).  

Scott Irwin and Darrel Good from the University of Illinois recently wrote an article questioning whether the 2012 corn crop in the Corn Belt will be the earliest ever planted.

“Corn planting in 2012 will reach the 50 percent completion date earlier than any other year since 1960 in Illinois and perhaps in Indiana as well. While Iowa is not likely to set a record early date, it is likely that Iowa will reach 50 percent complete well before its trend date,” they wrote.

The duo did note that while some records will be set in 2012 it is important to keep in mind that other years have seen corn planting almost as early. The main market implication is that a smaller than average percentage of the U.S. corn crop is likely to be planted late (after May 20) and incur the yield penalty associated with late planting. Read more.

Soybean Progress
The USDA reported 6 percent of soybeans planted, which is more than triple last year’s pace. Mississippi (40 percent), Louisiana (33 percent) and Arkansas (28) are already off to a good start for this year’s crop, though Louisiana is behind their pace from 2011. All of the states reporting progress in soybean planting are at or above their state’s five-year average.