Spring wheat, sugarbeet and oat crops have also started slow this spring.

Ben Potter, Senior editor

April 24, 2018

2 Min Read
Dan Meyer plants corn on his family's farm May 10, 2008, near Hampshire, Illinois.Scott Olson/GettyImages

With winterlike weather hanging on well into April across much of the upper Midwest and Northern Plains, perhaps it’s no surprise that the 2018 planting season is off to a slower-than-usual start for some crops.

As of April 22, 5% of the U.S. corn crop has been planted, according to the latest USDA Crop Progress report – inching up from 3% complete the prior week. Some southern states, including Texas (65%), North Carolina (48%) and Tennessee (30%) lead the way, but further north, precious little of the crop is in the ground. In Illinois, just 4% of the crop has been planted, for example, and 1% of Indiana’s planting is complete.

That’s a slow start for corn planting based on recent years. Last year, 15% of the corn crop had been planted by this time, and the five-year average is 14%.

Some other crops have started this spring relatively slow. Notably, the 2018 sugarbeet crop is only 12% planted, versus a five-year average of 37%. Idaho accounts for the vast majority of this year’s planted acreage so far. Oats are also significantly behind, with 31% planted versus a 55% five-year average.

Spring wheat is another crop off to a slow start, with just 3% of the crop planted so far – unchanged from a week ago. Last year, the pace had reached 21% complete, with a five-year average of 25%.

Winter wheat is physiologically behind in other ways. Although the crop was planted months ago, USDA is currently tracking how much of the crop has reached heading. As of April 22, only 13% of this year’s crop has reached that growth stage, compared to 30% a year ago and a five-year average of 19%. Texas (56%), Arkansas (44%), Oklahoma (23%) and North Carolina (20%) have made the most progress so far.

Crop condition for winter wheat, meantime, remains mostly stable. Thirty-one percent of the crop is rated good to excellent, which is unchanged from a week ago – but 25% is rated good and 6% is rated excellent, versus 26/5 last week. Percentage of the crop rated fair, poor and very poor is unchanged from last week.

Soybean plantings are on the board this week at 2% complete, in line with the five-year average of 2% but behind last year’s pace of 5%.

Cotton’s planting pace (9%) is mostly in line with last year (11%) and the five-year average (10%). So is sorghum’s planting pace (24%) when compared to last year (24%) and the five-year average (23%).

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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