From the way the USDA Crop Progress numbers look, all farmers have been doing is tearing off calendar pages and emptying the rain gauge.  No one is going to accuse anyone of laziness, but the habit of spending the day in the machine shed or office has to stop sometime and work has to be done.  Even if rain stopped today, it would take some fields 10 days or more to dry out, and that requires with warm and windy conditions.  If you feel that you are behind in the spring planting game, you are not alone.

At this time last year, the 18 states in which USDA tracks a corn crop, 46% of the crop had been planted.  This year it is a measly 9% according to the USDA April 24 Crop Progress report. Those states include the 66% of the Texas corn crop that is planted and the 71% of the North Carolina crop.  However the heart of the Cornbelt includes Iowa at 3%, Illinois at 10%, Indiana at 2%, Nebraska at 5%, and Minnesota which has yet to begin planting.  Missouri farmers have reached the 28% mark, which puts them ahead of the 23% average of the last 5 years.  (Show me how they do it!)

Despite the advances made in Missouri, crop statisticians report that replanting will be necessary, since some counties in southeastern Missouri have received over 9 inches of rain.  Missouri topsoil moisture is 60% surplus, and flooding potential remains high in some parts of the state.

Illinois farmers advanced to the 10% planted mark, but that was up only 1% from the prior week.  Activity was on hold except for the western and southwestern parts of the state (closest to Missouri) were rain has been lighter and less frequent.  The state averaged 3 inches of rain during the past week with ponds and floods in some areas.  Topsoil moisture is rated 66% surplus across the state, with 100% in the southeastern crop reporting district.  The 10% planted for Illinois farmers compares to 67% planted last year at this time.  Only 1% of the corn has emerged, primarily due to temperatures that averaged only 50 degrees during the past week.

Iowa farmers suspended their field work during the week with only a half day available between showers.  Currently 38% of Iowa has surplus topsoil moisture and only 3% of the corn crop has been planted.  That is up from 2% last week, and compares to 61% last year.

In Indiana fieldwork is at a standstill due to heavy rain in the central and southern portions of the state, with some areas receiving record amounts of rainfall.  70% of the topsoil is rated in the surplus category.  Corn planting is now 13 days behind the 50% completion pace of last year and did not progress at all in the past week.

Kansas corn planting jumped from 17% planted last week to 29% this week, but Kansas farmers are suffering more from drought conditions than excess rainfall.  Most of the week was suitable for field work and 46% of the soil moisture is adequate, with only 7% surplus but 47% short to very short.

Michigan reports only 1 day suitable for field work in the past week with heavy rains and cold temperatures and snow, with ponds in fields.  No progress was made in planting field crops, with no corn reported planted in the state report, however the USDA national summary reported 1% had been planted in Michigan in the past week.

In Minnesota, the weather has been cold, wet, and snowy, with little relief and continued saturated soils with low temperatures.  Less than a full day of field work was reported.  Minnesota soil moisture is rated 55% adequate and 45% surplus.  Only 2% of the corn ground has been prepared for planting, but none of the fields have been planted, compared to 56% planted at this time last year.

Nebraska rainfall in the past week was lighter than many states, but generally covered the entire state.  However, temperatures remain cool, with 4 in soil depths all well below 50 degrees.  In the past week 2% of the Nebraska corn was planted, bringing the state to the 5% mark, compared to 20% at this time in 2010.  Soil moisture is 80% in the adequate category and only 10% surplus. Very little of the planted corn has emerged due to the cold soil.

North Dakota fieldwork is not expected to begin until May 6 because of rain, freezing rain, snow, and cold temperatures.  That is an 18 day delay, compared to last year and 15 days behind the five year average.  Flooding remains a concern in some areas of North Dakota , with topsoil rated as 53% surplus and 47% adequate.  All of the seed for field crops remains in the bag at this time.

Ohio farmers had less than a half day suitable for field work in the past week, hindered by wet soils that are rated as 81% surplus and 19% adequate.  However temperatures remain cold and only 51 growing degree days were added in the past week.  Ohio farmers were able to get 1% of the corn planted which compared to 38% last year.

South Dakota only had a half day suitable for fieldwork also in the past week, with farming delays from precipitation and lack of sun.  Spring wheat and barley planting are well behind last year, and no corn has been reported planted, compared to the 12% at this time in 2010.  South Dakota temperatures remained in the 30 degree range most of the week, with rainfall accumulations well above average.

Wisconsin is another state with excess soil moisture, in 45% of the state, and temperatures averaging only in the 40 degree range in the past week.  Wisconsin farmers had only 1 day for fieldwork, thanks to the excess rain and snow.  Fieldwork has been minimal with only 7% of the tillage completed, and there had only been 3 other years in the past 20 with similar delays that significant.

Summary:
Cold temperatures, excess rainfall, and in some areas snow, have combined to delay corn planting in the Cornbelt states well behind the pace of last year and the 5 year average.  Nationally, only 9% of the crop is planted, compared to 7% last week, with most of the gains being in non-Cornbelt states of Texas and North Carolina.  In many areas of the northern tier of Cornbelt states, very little spring tillage has been accomplished and even spring seeding of small grains is well behind the typical calendar.

Source: Stu Ellis, the FarmGate blog