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Farmer with tractor seeding - sowing crops at agricultural fields in spring fotokostic/iStock/GettyImages

USDA crop progress: Corn planting surges forward

More than a quarter of the 2020 crop is now in the ground, outpacing trade guesses.

Spring has sprung, and in farm country, planters are rolling. And according to the latest weekly crop progress report, they’ve been rolling a bit faster than analysts predicted.

Corn’s progress has reached 27%, with a fifth of the entire crop planted during the week ending April 26, per USDA. That’s more than double 2019’s dismal pace of 12% and moderately ahead of the prior five-year average of 20%. Analysts were expecting a more modest climb, with an average trade guess of 22%.

Of the top 18 production states, USDA says only North Dakota and Pennsylvania lack any measurable progress. Southern states continue to lead the way, including Texas (67%), North Carolina (62%) and Kentucky (44%). Some northern states made tremendous progress this past week – most notably Minnesota, which went from 1% a week ago up to 40%. Iowa made a similar jump, moving from 2% to 39%.

Just 3% of the 2020 corn crop is emerged, meantime. That’s a point better than 2019’s pace of 2% but a point behind the prior five-year average of 4%.

Soybean planting progress was more in line with analyst estimates, reaching 8% this past week. That’s up from the prior week’s tally of 2% and well ahead of both 2019’s pace of 2% and the prior five-year average of 4%. Louisiana has a third of its soybean acres in the ground. Mississippi is not far behind, reaching 30%. All of the top 18 production states except for North Dakota have some measurable progress reported.

Spring wheat is coming along more sluggishly than analysts expected, reaching 14% completion this week versus an average trade guess of 18%. That’s still double the prior week’s tally of 7% and ahead of last year’s pace of 11%. The prior five-year average is much higher, meantime, at 29%. Another 4% of the crop is now emerged.

More than a fifth (21%) of the 2019/20 winter wheat crop is now headed, up from 14% a week ago and ahead of last year’s pace of 16%. The prior five-year average is 25%.

From a quality standpoint, crop ratings stumbled another three points to land at 54% in good-to-excellent conditions. Analysts had expected USDA to hold quality ratings steady from a week ago. Another 31% of the crop is rated fair (up a point from last week), with the remaining 15% rated poor or very poor (up two points from last week).

Click here to read the latest USDA crop progress report in its entirety.

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