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Published May 17, 2011, 10:54 AM

Springs of 2011, 2010 vary greatly in planting progress, crop prices

Last spring, Ayr, N.D., farmer Bruce Hagen had all his wheat and corn planted by the end of April. At the time, crop prices were poor.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Last spring, Ayr, N.D., farmer Bruce Hagen had all his wheat and corn planted by the end of April. At the time, crop prices were poor.

This spring, crop prices are strong, but wet fields had prevented him from planting any fields by early May.

“Yes, there’s a big difference,” he says of this spring vs. a year ago.

So which is preferable?

To have the crop planted in a timely fashion and face poor prices or to enjoy good prices and face serious planting delays?

There’s no easy answer to that, says Kevin Paap, a Garden City, Minn., farmer and president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation.

“Farmers always feel better when their crop is planted. But having the higher prices is good,” he says.

A year ago, new crop wheat averaged about $5 per bushel and new crop soybeans averaged about $8.50 per bushel at area elevators surveyed weekly by Agweek.

This year, new crop wheat averages about $8.50 per bushel and new crop soybeans averages about $12 per bushel at those area elevators.

The gap in planting progress is big, too.

Planting rates

Here’s a look at planting rates for the region’s major crops. The numbers come from the weekly survey, released May 9, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

n Corn: Twenty-eight percent of Minnesota corn is planted, compared with 93 percent a year earlier. Three percent of North Dakota corn is planted, down from 52 percent a year earlier. South Dakota farmers have planted 17 percent of their corn, down from 45 percent a year earlier.

n Soybeans: North Dakota farmers hadn’t planted any soybeans, compared with 5 percent a year earlier. In South Dakota, 1 percent of soybeans are planted, down from 4 percent a year earlier. Two percent of Minnesota soybeans have been planted, down from 37 percent a year ago.

n Spring wheat: Montana farmers have planted 18 percent of their spring wheat, compared with 58 percent a year ago. In North Dakota, 7 percent of spring wheat has been planted, down from 52 percent last year. Eighteen percent of Minnesota spring wheat has been planted, compared with 98 percent a year ago. Fifty-nine percent of South Dakota spring wheat is planted, compared with 86 percent a year ago.

Keep in mind that many area fields were planted unusually early last year. While this year’s planting progress is behind the 2006 to ’10 five-year average, the 2011 pacing pace isn’t as sluggish as comparisons to 2010 alone might suggest.

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