The “FOCUS ON AG” column is sent out weekly via e-mail to all interested parties. The column features timely information on farm management, marketing, farm programs, crop insurance, crop and livestock production, and other timely topics. Previous “FOCUS ON AG columns are available on the MinnStar Bank website at: https://www.minnstarbank.com/category/focus-on-ag/ or the MinnStar Bank Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/MinnStarBankNA/ Selected copies of the “FOCUS ON AG” column are also available on “The FARMER” magazine web site at: https://www.farmprogress.com/focus-ag
Back to Blog
The Spring of 2023 has been a mixed scenario for crop producers in the Upper Midwest, as they have tried to get this year’s corn and soybean crop planted and off to a good start. Favorable weather conditions in early May allowed for corn planting progress in many areas of the Midwest; however, heavy rainfall events during the second week of May slowed planting progress in the Northern Corn Belt and resulted in some poor corn emergence. A very warm and dry weather pattern during the last half of May allowed most of the corn and soybeans to be planted by months end and resulted in rapid germination and crop emergence. As we enter June, the crop concern has turned to lack of rainfall in many areas of the Midwest.
Total rainfall amounts across the Upper Midwest during the month of May were quite variable. Most areas received some precipitation during the first half of May, with portions of Southern Minnesota receiving excess rainfall that caused some crop loss. Since May 15, much of the Midwest and Central Plains regions received less than normal rainfall for the last half of May and early June. This trend is certainly raising concerns in some portions of the region as we head into the primary portion of the growing season for corn and soybeans.
The University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Center at Waseca recorded 6.42 inches of rainfall during May, with nearly 6 inches of rainfall occurring from May 6-15. This was 1.95 inches above the long-term average monthly precipitation for May at Waseca, which followed the April precipitation total 3.66 inches that was very near normal. From May 16 until June 5 the Waseca location has measured only .42 inches of precipitation. The U of M Southwest Research and Outreach Center at Lamberton received 5.82 inches of rainfall from May 7-15 and has received and has received nearly 1.5 inches of rainfall since May 15, which is nearly ideal. Total stored soil measurements at the Lamberton site on June 1 were above normal levels and very close to levels in early June of 2022; however, stored soil moisture levels are somewhat limited in the upper sections of the soil profile.
A large portion of South Central Minnesota and adjoining areas of North Central Iowa dealt with excess precipitation from May 6-15, with several locations receiving 8-12 inches of total rainfall during that period. This resulted in thousands of acres of corn needing to be replanted due to drown-out conditions and poor crop emergence. A majority of the soybeans in the region, as well as the replanted and later-planted corn were not planted until the last week of May. Following the late planting dates, warm temperatures and limited rainfall have rapidly dried out topsoil conditions, which has resulted in poor and uneven crop emergence in some locations.
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor that was released on June 1 showed that about one-third of the primary corn production regions of the United States were experiencing some level of drought. Moderate to extreme drought conditions covered much of Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri, with moderate drought conditions extending into the western third of Iowa, southeast South Dakota, and extreme southwest Minnesota. A growing area of abnormally dry conditions extends from Iowa across the eastern Corn Belt States of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, as well as in portions of South Dakota Wisconsin, and Central Minnesota. The corn and soybean crop in many of these areas is off to a good start but needs some rain to properly sustain young corn and soybean plants until they are able to draw on supplies of stored soil moisture.
Most areas of the Upper Midwest have benefitted from the warmer temperatures in late May and early June, especially in areas that were not impacted by the excessive rainfall in mid-May and have been getting some timely rainfall in the past two weeks. According to data from the Minnesota State Climatology Office, the average temperature at many reporting stations in Minnesota during the last week of May and first few days of June was 6-10 degrees above normal. The very warm temperatures resulted in rapid growth of both corn and soybeans.
The level of growing degree units (GDU’s), which measure growing conditions for corn and soybeans, was well above normal for the month of May at many locations in the Midwest. As of May 31, a total of 401 growing degree units (GDU”s) had accumulated at the U of M Research Center at Waseca since May 1. This is about 25 percent ahead normal and was well-ahead the 365 GDU’s accumulated by May 31, 2022. Much of the corn in the Upper Midwest that was planted in late April or early May that was not impacted by the heavy rainfall events in mid-May is ahead of normal development for early June, primarily due to the much warmer than normal temperatures in the last half of May and early June. The very warm temperatures in early June should continue to push crop development ahead of normal, except in areas with limited moisture or in locations that were impacted by a significant amount of replanted corn or late planted row crops.
Based on the May 29 USDA Crop Progress Report, 92 percent of the corn in the U.S. was planted, which compares to a 5-year average of 84 percent planted by that date. As of May 29, corn planting was 90 percent completed and corn emergence was ahead of normal in all major corn-producing States except North Dakota, However, corn planting in North Dakota progressed 40 percent during the week of May 22-29, reaching 72 percent completed, which is on-par with the long-term planting progress by that date. The May 30 USDA Report showed that 83 percent of the soybeans nationwide were planted, which is well-above the planting pace in 2022 and compares to a 5-year average soybean planting rate of 65 percent by that date. Similar to corn, soybean planting in all major soybean-producing States in the Midwest exceeded 80 percent completed by May 29, except in North Dakota which had 53 percent of the soybean planting completed.
The first 2023 national crop rating for corn was also released on May 29 and indicated that 69 percent of the U.S. corn crop was rated “good to excellent”. This compares to an initial USDA “good-to-excellent” rating for corn of 73 percent in 2022 and a five-year average of 71 percent in the higher rating category. Several of the initial statewide “good to excellent” corn condition ratings in late May were fairly strong with Wisconsin at 82 percent, Ohio at 81 percent, Minnesota at 80 percent, Iowa at 77 percent, Indiana and North Dakota at 72 percent, The States that were below a 70 percent “good-to excellent” corn rating on May 29 included Illinois at 69 percent, South Dakota at 65 percent Nebraska at 62 percent, and Missouri at 55 percent. The lower ratings in those States were primarily due to persistent dry topsoil conditions and developing drought conditions in some areas.
Based on research from the University of Illinois, there is very little correlation between the initial U.S. corn condition ratings in late May and the final U.S. corn yield. By late July, there is about a 90 percent correlation between the national corn condition rating and the final U.S. corn yield. Given the fast start to the 2023 growing season in many key corn producing States, there is certainly potential that the 2023 U.S. corn yield could meet or exceed the U.S. “trendline” corn yield of 181.5 bushels per acre. However, the growing drought area in the Western Corn Belt and large area of abnormally dry conditions in many locations across the Midwest has raised some concerns regarding the final 2023 corn yield levels in some areas.
The other factor besides the national average crop yields that will affect final 2023 U.S. corn and soybean production will be the final 2023 planted crop acreage. The March 30 USDA Planting Intentions Report estimated that 92 million acres of corn and 87.5 million acres of soybeans would be planted in 2023 The big question is how many prevented planted or abandoned crop acres will there be this year and were crop acres switched from corn to soybeans due to the later planting dates in the Northern Corn Belt. We should get a much clearer indication of the final corn and soybean planting numbers in the June 30th USDA Crop Acreage Report and the 2023 prevented planted acreage data.