Spring has been a battle for crop producers in many portions of the Corn Belt.

Some favorable weather conditions during first half of June has allowed for significant planting progress in the some of the hard-hit regions. However, there is still a significant amount of corn and soybeans remaining to be planted in the eastern Corn Belt, as well as in parts of southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa and eastern South Dakota.

Frequent rainfalls from late April through most of May resulted in serious planting delays. In addition, excessive rainfall and flooding created drown-out damage in some fields that were previously planted.

Total rainfall across Minnesota during May varied widely. Most areas of southern Minnesota received above average rainfall, with some portions of southwest Minnesota, as well as adjoining areas of Iowa and South Dakota, receiving 7 to 9 inches or more.

The University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Center at Waseca recorded 6.33 inches of rain during May and another 1.04 inches during the first few days of June. All of that followed 4.25 inches of rain in April. The rain in May was 2.4 inches more than the average and April’s was just more than an inch above normal.

The U of M Southwest Research and Outreach Center at Lamberton received 10.71 inches of rainfall during April and May, which is nearly 4.5 inches more than normal. During May, rain was recorded on 21 days at Waseca and 18 days at Lamberton.

May was also extremely cool, which slowed seed germination and crop emergence. As of May 31, only 217 growing degree units (GDUs) had been accumulated at the research center at Waseca since May 1, about 35 percent behind normal. The average 24-hour temperature at Waseca was more than 5 degrees below normal during May. Fortunately, warmer temperatures during early June have helped improve the situation.

Based on the June 2 USDA crop progress report, only 67 percent of the corn in the U.S. was planted, which compares to a five-year average of 96 percent planted. Corn planting progress on June 2 was at the lowest level in the modern era of U.S. agriculture. Minnesota’s planted corn acreage on June 2 was 76 percent and Iowa was 80 percent, compared to five-year averages of 98 percent in Minnesota and 99 percent in Iowa.

Corn planting progress in the Eastern Corn Belt on June 2 lagged far behind normal with Illinois at 45 percent, Indiana at 31 percent, and Ohio at 33 percent. South Dakota was only at 44 percent of the corn planted, while North Dakota was at 81 percent planted. Some planting progress did occur the first week of June in some of the hard-hit areas.

The USDA Report said 39 percent of the anticipated U.S. soybean acreage was planted by June 2, compared to a five-year average of 79 percent. In Minnesota, 51 percent of soybeans were in; in Iowa, 41 percent. The five-year averages are 90 percent in Minnesota and 89 percent in Iowa.

Some major soybean planting progress was made in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa during the first week of June.

Other states too are behind normal in planting — Illinois at 21 percent, Indiana at 17 percent, Ohio at 18 percent, and South Dakota at 14 percent. North Dakota had 70 percent of the intended soybean acres planted by June 2.

As of June 2, it was estimated that there were over 30 million acres of corn and 50 million acres of soybeans remaining to be planted in the U.S.

The big question with corn has been: “How many of those corn acres will actually get planted and how many acres will farmers choose to put under prevented planting ?” The crop insurance final planting dates for corn were May 31 in Minnesota, Iowa and eastern South Dakota, and June 5 in the eastern Corn Belt.

Following those dates, farmers had the choice of planting the corn late with a reduction in the maximum insurance coverage, or to file for prevented planting to collect 55 percent of their insurance guarantee. The crop insurance final planting dates for soybeans are June 10 in Minnesota, June 15 in Iowa, and June 20 in the eastern Corn Belt.

It is likely that a considerable amount of corn was planted in early June because of favorable planting conditions. In addition, livestock producers in some regions are very concerned about the local corn supply later this year and into 2020, and are continuing to plant corn.

The USDA crop report later this month will start to given a clearer picture of the prevented planted acres, although the full picture may not be known until harvest.

Farmers facing prevented planting decisions should contact their crop insurance agent for details and information.

Kent Thiesse is a farm management analyst and senior vice president at MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, Minn.

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