University of Illinois Extension Economist Darrel Good notes that grain prices have been depressed through the first five months of 2001, and likely will remain low in the absence of weather problems threatening this year’s crops.

Corn and soybean futures have, however, experienced small price rallies lately, due in part to early weather concerns. Dr. Good notes that cool, wet weather has raised concerns about the completion of corn and soybean planting some areas. Some land intended for corn in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota may not get planted to corn due to the lateness of the season. Those areas may be seeded to soybeans, if weather permits. Cool, wet conditions also raised concerns about the progress of the crops, both corn and soybeans, already seeded and emerged.

Current weather and crop conditions, Dr. Good says, do not represent a significant threat to the crop, if warmer weather develops soon. Ample moisture along with warmer weather would result in rapid crop growth and improvement in crop ratings. However, below-normal temperatures are expected to continue in much of the growing area for most of this week. In addition, other crop concerns are unfolding around the world. Dr. Good notes that three areas of dry conditions are especially important – the corn growing areas of China, and wheat growing areas in Canada and Australia. For the first time in nearly six years, he adds, weather and crop concerns extend beyond more than one or two major production areas and impact more than one major crop.

In its May 5 weekly weather and crop update, USDA Reports the following:

  • Cold weather limited growth of spring row crops in the Corn Belt and hindered winter wheat development on the Great Plains. In some areas of the Corn Belt, young corn and soybean plants were also stressed by excessive topsoil moisture. Heavy rainfall halted field activities in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and interior parts of the lower Mississippi Valley and Southeast. The storms produced isolated flash floods, strong winds, and hail, but also improved topsoil moisture supplies, especially in the Southeast. In the Southwest and interior areas of the Pacific Northwest, above normal temperatures stimulated crop development and dry weather aided fieldwork. Light precipitation provided much needed moisture for small grain crops in the northern High Plains. In the Northeast, cold, wet weather hindered plant development and limited fieldwork.
  • Corn: Ninety percent of the crop was emerged, compared with 97 percent a year ago. Fields quickly emerged in the western and northern Corn Belt, but growth was very slow due to cold nighttime temperatures. In North Dakota, 28 percent of the acreage emerged during the week. Emergence
    progressed between 20 and 24 percentage points in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota. The condition of emerged fields deteriorated across most of the Corn Belt due to the abnormally cold weather and saturated soils. Conditions improved in the central Great Plains and southern Corn Belt, where precipitation reduced moisture shortages and temperatures were not as cold.
  • Winter Wheat: Eighty-three percent of the acreage was at or beyond the heading stage and 3 percent was harvested. Crop development remained behind last year's rapid pace and trailed slightly behind the 5-year average. Harvest progress lagged behind last year's 6 percent, but was equal to the 5-year average. Above normal temperatures promoted rapid development on the central and northern High Plains and interior areas of the Pacific Northwest. Cool weather limited heading progress in Nebraska and South Dakota, but fields rapidly entered the heading stage in Michigan, despite cooler than normal weather. Harvest was about one-fourth complete in Texas, as progress was aided by dry weather most of the week. The harvest season began in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, but progress was slow due to wet weather.
  • Soybeans: Eighty percent of the acreage was planted, behind last year's 89 percent progress, but ahead of the 75 percent average for this date. Fifty nine percent was emerged, compared with 78 percent a year ago. Planting was active across the northern Corn Belt and adjacent areas of the Great Plains due to favorably dry weather. About one-third of the acreage was planted in Wisconsin during the week, and more than one-fourth was seeded in the Dakotas. Rain sharply curtailed planting progress in Missouri and Michigan and limited progress in other areas of the southern and eastern Corn Belt. Fields rapidly emerged across most of the Corn Belt, despite colder than normal temperatures. Emergence advanced between 22 and 26 percentage points in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. However, growth was slow and some fields were stressed by excessive soil moisture.