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Market Matters Blog           05/23 11:43

   Planting Window for 100% of Intended Spring Wheat Acres Close to Shutting

   Nonstop rain and overland flooding in parts of North Dakota and Minnesota 
are dampening the hopes of farmers wanting to get all their intended wheat, 
durum and other crops planted.

Mary Kennedy
DTN Basis Analyst

   In the Monday, May 16, USDA weekly Crop Progress report, North Dakota's 
National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) said for the week ended May 15, 
spring wheat was 17% planted, well behind 81% last year and 60% average. Only 
2% of the crop was emerged, well behind 34% last year, and behind the 20% 
average. Durum wheat was 9% planted, well behind 54% last year and the 45% 
average. In fact, corn, canola, sugarbeets, oats, barley and edible peas 
planting were all well behind average.

   In Minnesota, planting progress for spring wheat was at 5% versus the 
five-year average of 75% and last year's 99% for the same timeframe. Corn 
planting was 35% percent complete, compared to 94% last year and the five-year 
average of 72%. Barley, oats and sugarbeet planting were well behind average as 

   While insurance last-plant dates for spring wheat are May 31 in the southern 
half and June 5 in the northern half of those states, last-plant date for corn 
in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota is May 25. Many farmers have already 
said they will get their wheat in first and may have to forgo some -- if not 
all -- their intended corn acres where fields in those two states are still too 
wet to get in either due to standing water or muddy conditions.

   Rain has not taken a break in much of those two states and that has kept the 
Red River of the North at Grand Forks in flood stage for all of May so far and, 
as of May 23, the water level was sitting at 35.75 feet. According to the 
National Weather Service prediction, it will likely stay above minor flood 
stage of 28 feet heading into June.

   (See here:

   The domino effect of the continued rains, besides the Red River flooding, is 
small streams flooding and causing overland flooding, keeping many fields under 
water or dotted with puddles and pretty much impassible by planters due to the 
soft ground.

   I posted a question May 19 on Twitter, asking farmers where planting 
conditions are poor how many acres of spring wheat and corn will go unplanted 
if conditions don't improve. The following are answers sent to me on that day, 
unless otherwise noted.

   In eastern North Dakota, a farmer said, "As it's raining again, I don't know 
exactly, but we pushed to get in the field and went around water and there are 
few farmers attempting that. Finding a worked field is a tough go right now in 
our area."

   Near the Casselton, North Dakota, area: "Looks like barley, sugarbeets, corn 
and wheat going in. Rain just started about a half-hour ago with 1/4 inch 
expected. Then hoping for drying in a week to 10 days. There are fewer wheat 
acres in the southern Red River Valley."

   In the Devil's Lake area: "Rained yesterday and chance again today. Very wet 
again. I've got .0073 of my contracted acres seeded. Will lose corn acres and 
some wheat. Going to lose a little bit of everything."

   From Northwest Iowa, a farmer answered, "Corn specifically (not planted). I 
think we are going to see planting continue into June. Federal crop price is 
lower (February average) and they still maintain some level of insurance after 
federal date. Plus, have you seen corn prices? Major motivator."

   A farmer is southwest Grand Forks County said, "We have 0% planted right 
now. Hoping to get about 60% of our corn in next week. Wheat and barley will be 
started next week, and will go well into June, hoping to get 90% or better. 
Will not add any soy acres in June, unplanted corn acres will go to wheat or 
remain unplanted."

   Another farmer in northeast North Dakota and one near Jamestown said they 
have zero acres planted as of May 22 and there is more rain coming early in the 

   In Loraine, North Dakota, a farmer said, "Airplane has been busy spreading 
canola if that helps give you an idea of wetness here north-central North 

   A western North Dakota farmer said, "Our corn is done and no reason to think 
we won't get our wheat all in either here." Another farmer north of Bismarck 
said their area will also get done.

   A farmer from Lansford, North Dakota, sent me a message on May 17 saying, "I 
have 10 acres done. North-central North Dakota is bad. Some crop is going in 
down by Jamestown, but no fieldwork done from Carrington to Kenmare. I just 
can't believe how wet we got from being so dry. Unbelievable really."

   An East Grand Forks, Minnesota, a farmer answered, "All, if not more, will 
go in. Maybe see some reduction but I believe also, most will go in. Maybe 
10%-15% reduction but markets are saying to plant it versus prevent plant, in 
my opinion. Still 22 days until June 10. Probably see some additional sunflower 

   A Northwestern Minnesota farmer said, "I'd say we lose 25% of the intended 
corn here, 10% of the wheat. Nobody's afraid to plant soybeans here on the 
fifth of June. With prices where they are, there won't be much prevent plant, 
just acres switched."

   According to the USDA Risk Management Agency: "A farmer has the decision to 
either plant the planned crop or not plant the crop and take a prevent plant 
payment, or take a partial prevent plant payment and plant a crop with 

   Nearly all the farmers in the position of uncertainty as to when the rain 
will cease and how long it will then take to dry out have all said the same 
thing -- grain prices are too high right now to consider prevented planting and 
they will wait until they have to declare it according to the timeline set to 
do so.

   A farmer from Berthold, North Dakota, said on Twitter that it was still too 
wet to plant there. On May 21, a farmer from the area north of Berthold said, 
"Up near across the northern tier of the state here, we are basically at 0% 
planted. A little canola has gone in either with the airplane or floater. The 
southern area (near lake Sakakawea) is 35% give or take. Rain and snow the last 
two days; it's 32 degrees this morning."

   A farmer in northwest Minnesota said on May 22 he has not planted one seed. 
"There is a handful of fields in the neighborhood that are planted. They were 
on last year's beet fields, which tend to be drier than other fields. We had .4 
inches of rain Thursday and light sprinkles Saturday. Forecast is favorable. 
I'm hoping to be seeding wheat by midweek. That will be the latest start I can 
remember. I'm thinking wheat yields will be only 85%-90% of normal with good 
weather going forward. If we have a hot summer, yields could be much lower."

   He added, "As far as people switching crops, this week will tell us a lot."

   Mary Kennedy can be reached at

   Follow her on Twitter @MaryCKenn

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