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USDA crop progress: Corn crosses halfway mark – and then some

Corn planting goes from moderately behind to nearly matching the five-year average.

Ben Potter

May 15, 2018

3 Min Read

Last week was anecdotal proof that when planting pace is slow, a few days of ideal weather is all farmers need to catch up. The latest USDA Crop Progress report showed corn planting vaulted ahead from the prior week’s total of 39% to reach 62% for the week ending May 13. That puts this spring’s planting pace nearly even with the five-year average of 63%. Trade analysts were expecting USDA to report corn planting at 59% complete.

Five states have now reached at least 80% completion, including Illinois (90%), Missouri (91%), North Carolina (92%), Tennessee (86%) and Texas (82%).

Even northern states made solid progress last week. Wisconsin doubled its corn planting progress, for instance, moving from 15% complete to 30%. North Dakota moved from 7% complete to 35% complete. And Minnesota moved from 9% complete to 40% complete.

Corn emergence also took a big leap forward, moving from 8% as of May 6 to 28% last week. The five-year average is 27%.


Soybean planting progress moved ahead of the five-year average of 26%, reaching 35% completion. Southern states like Louisiana (88%) and Mississippi (72%) continue to lead the pack, although Illinois (66%) and Indiana (53%) have both crossed the halfway mark as well. Analysts were expecting USDA to report soybean planting at 30% complete.


Ten percent of the soybean crop is now emerged, compared to 7% a year ago and a five-year average of 6%.

Spring wheat planting has also crossed the halfway mark, with USDA reporting the crop now 58% planted. That’s still somewhat behind the five-year average of 67%, and moderately slower than last year’s pace of 75%. Analysts expected USDA to report 53% of the crop is now in the ground.


Winter wheat condition continues to improve incrementally, with the percentage of the crop rated good or excellent moving from 34% to 36%. Small changes were also noted in the percent of crop rated fair (29% down to 28%), poor (21% up to 22%) and very poor (16% down to 14%). Analysts were expecting no changes to the percentage of the crop rated good to excellent this week.


Physiologically, 45% of the winter wheat crop has reached heading stage, up from 33% a week ago but behind the five-year average of 53%.

Here are some more crop progress updates of note:

  • Barley – 62% planted (up from 42% a week ago)

  • Oats – 72% planted (versus a five-year average of 84%)

  • Sugarbeets – 84% planted (ahead of the five-year average of 78%)

  • Sorghum – 32% planted (in line with the five-year average of 33%)

  • Cotton – 36% planted (up from 20% last week)







About the Author(s)

Ben Potter

Senior editor, Farm Futures

Senior Editor Ben Potter brings two decades of professional agricultural communications and journalism experience to Farm Futures. He began working in the industry in the highly specific world of southern row crop production. Since that time, he has expanded his knowledge to cover a broad range of topics relevant to agriculture, including agronomy, machinery, technology, business, marketing, politics and weather. He has won several writing awards from the American Agricultural Editors Association, most recently on two features about drones and farmers who operate distilleries as a side business. Ben is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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