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Published May 22, 2013, 08:58 AM

Farmers race storms to wrap up corn plantings

U.S. farmers should begin winding down corn plantings in the next week to 10 days, despite occasional showers and storms that will cause temporary delays, an agricultural meteorologist said May 22.

By: Sam Nelson, Reuters

U.S. farmers should begin winding down corn plantings in the next week to 10 days, despite occasional showers and storms that will cause temporary delays, an agricultural meteorologist said May 22.

“Overall it looks like they’ll make decent progress, more so in the lower Midwest than in the Dakotas though,” said Andy Karst, meteorologist for World Weather Inc.

Karst said rains were moving from the western Midwest into the east on May 22, and that it will be drier May 23 and 24, followed by more showers by the weekend. “For crops that got in the ground it’s a good environment,” he said.

The worst drought in more than 50 years had depleted soil moisture reserves in much of the Corn Belt last season, but a return to spring rains, though slowing plantings, has boosted crop prospects for the 2013 harvest.

U.S. farmers took advantage of mostly clear skies last week to plant corn at a blistering pace in an attempt to catch up from weather delays in April and early May.

In its weekly crop progress report late on May 20, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said U.S. corn planting was 71 percent complete, up from 28 percent a week ago, but still behind the 79 percent five-year average seeding pace.

The increase of 43 percentage points from the previous week indicates that farmers in the world’s biggest corn producer seeded a single-week U.S. record of 41.8 million acres to the grain as of May 19, topping the previous record of 34.1 million acres set in June 1992.

USDA has projected U.S. 2013 corn plantings at 97.3 million acres this year, the largest land area devoted to production of the crop since the 1930s.

Soybean planting progress rose to 24 percent from 6 percent a week earlier, USDA said.

“The best weather of (the) year for fieldwork allowed producers to rapidly advance their planting pace, especially for corn,” the Iowa field office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said in its weekly report. Iowa is the biggest U.S. grower of corn and soybeans.

Planting in the U.S. Corn Belt this year got off to its slowest start in decades because of cold and rainy weather, with snowfall recorded in some states as late as early May. In contrast, Iowa farmers this past week had an average of 5.3 days considered “suitable for fieldwork,” more than double the amount in any previous week this year.

Farmers in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota each seeded more than half their intended corn acres in the week.

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