Tom Hall, Senior Agronomist, Rooster Strategic Solutions

Corn and Soy Planting off to a Slow Start. Wet conditions continue to hamper planting efforts across the corn belt. In a normal year, more than half of the U.S. crop is planted by the first week of May. This year, only 7 percent of the crop has been planted as of May 3. Few if any northern growers have even started, while the central corn belt is only 9-percent completed. Southern planters are in a better position, and planting there should be completed by the end of this week.

Few farmers are panicking, however. Most farmers can get all their acres planted in two weeks or less, and even though things are off to a slower start than normal, it’s not so late as to impact yield – yet. According to research from the University of Illinois (see chart), corn that’s planted in late May to early June can suffer yield losses of 10 to 20 percent. This late-planted corn can suffer from excessive heat at pollination, may not generate enough heat units to finish the crop, and are more susceptible to harm from early frosts or diseases like Gray Leafspot and Tar spot. On the other hand, late-planted corn can get off to a faster start and will quickly accumulate heat units that push early development. Because of corn’s adaptability, farmers should stick to their planned hybrids into early June but should scout fields looking for any disease lesions on the leaves at the ear node that might signal the need for a fungicide.

Serious Western Drought and Water Issues. Two large snowstorms in the Dakotas helped ease conditions, but the drought in wheat country continues. Reports from Texas, Oklahoma, Montana, and Colorado suggest more than half of the crop is in poor to very poor condition, with only about 20% in good to excellent condition. California and Arizona are warning everyone to prepare for water shortages. Arizona farmers expect to see only 18 percent of the water that was delivered to them in 2021.  California farmers will fallow about 370,000 acres of rice this year, roughly 40 percent more than in 2021. In vegetable-producing areas, farmers increasingly rely on groundwater resources for irrigation that also face depletion due to the higher use and lower recharge.

Agricultural Justice. According to a CNN report, Russian troops recently stole farm equipment worth more than $5 million from a John Deere dealership in the Ukrainian city of Melitopol and used military transports to ship it all to Chechnya. However, the Russian army underestimated the power of the equipment’s onboard technology; not only could the rightful owners track the stolen equipment’s movement, but they also disabled the machines remotely, making it impossible to start them.