0504 NowTime

5/4/2013 7:00 AM

To Understand the Impact of <\n>Planting Progress on Grain Markets

On Tuesday of this week, the USDA released a crop planting report that showed progress has been very slow in getting the corn crop in the ground across the nation.

This combined with a weather forecast of more cold and wet weather across the Corn Belt for the rest of week sent a shiver through the commodities markets, and corn traded up the 40 cent limit on Tuesday.

Overall, the report showed that in the 18 states that grow 92 percent of the U.S. corn crop, only 5 percent of the crop was planted compared with 49 percent at this time in 2012.

The five-year average for these states is 31 percent planted by the end of April. A few individual states show the dramatic difference from last year.

In 2012 in Illinois, 76 percent of the crop was planted while today it is only 1 percent. The five-year average for this date in Illinois is 36 percent. In Indiana, only 1 percent is planted as well compared with 67 percent last year and a five-year average for the end of April of 31 percent.

The two states in the report that are close to their five-year averages are Texas with 69 percent completed and North Carolina with 78 percent planted.

In Pennsylvania, currently 11 percent of our corn is planted compared with 25 percent last year and a five-year average of 17 percent.

This positive in this news, however, is that the spring moisture has solved the carryover drought issues from last year in most of the corn-growing areas.

Almost all of the corn belt has been restored to healthy subsoil moisture levels, and the moisture this week will add to that improvement. So perhaps the market jitters over late planting are a bit of an overreaction.

Joel S. Karlin in the Western Milling Weekly newsletter explains that Tuesday’s brisk rally is linked to fears that this slow seeding pace will result in below-trend yields that were witnessed in 1993, 1995, 2008 and 2011, which averaged together show a corn yield 9.3 percent below trend.

The two main reasons why corn tends to yield lower in late-planted seasons are that pollination is pushed back toward the hottest part of the summer and plants may not be fully mature by the time the first autumn freezes arrive.

Another consideration is that time may run out before some farmers can put their intended corn acreage in the ground and may opt to seed a crop such as soybeans that can be sown later in the season or perhaps will allow the field to stand fallow and take the prevented planting payment.

The 5 percent planted as of April 30 represents the slowest pace ever.

Karlin explains that the question that should be asked is once a planting window opens how fast the 2013 corn crop can get in the ground. Keep in mind a 24-row planter can seed 600 acres per day, so a 3,000 acre farm can conceivably be planted in five days.

Karlin also points out that back in 2009, only 51 percent of the crop was planted by May 12, yet national yields that year attained an all-time high of 164.7 bushels per acre.

To Control Weeds in <\n>New Alfalfa Seedings

For alfalfa, that was recently seeded or is currently going in, here are some herbicide reminders/updates. Extension agronomist Bill Curran points out the products mentioned in this article are labeled for pure alfalfa and not intentional alfalfa-grass mixtures.

If you seeded Roundup Ready alfalfa, you can apply 22 to 44 fluid ounces per acre of Roundup Powermax (or 32 to 64 fluid ounces glyphosate 3S formulations) to seedling alfalfa at the three- to five-trifoliate stage to weeds less than 4 inches tall.

This same application rate can be applied to established Roundup Ready alfalfa at least five days before harvest.

Prowl H2O can be broadcast applied at 1.1 to 2.1 pints per acre to seedling alfalfa once it has reached the second trifoliate stage of growth. Applications should be made prior to alfalfa reaching 6 inches of growth. Prowl will not control emerged weeds.

Other relevant herbicides include Butyrac, Buctril, Pursuit, Raptor, Poast and Select, which are all labeled for new alfalfa seedings.

Apply Butyrac when seedling legumes have two to four trifoliate leaves and when broadleaf weeds are actively growing and less than 4 inches tall. Butyrac is effective on many summer annual broadleaves and mustard species.

Buctril may be applied to alfalfa with at least four trifoliate leaves, and broadleaf weeds should not exceed the four-leaf stage. Buctril is particularly effective on winter annual mustards and lambs-quarters.

Pursuit and Raptor are both Group 2 herbicides and have both broadleaf and some grass activity. Apply either herbicide to alfalfa with two trifoliates or later when weeds are 1 to 3 inches tall or wide.

In general, Raptor is a little better on some broadleaves (e.g. lambs-quarters) and annual grasses, and is not as persistent as Pursuit. Both herbicides are good on common chickweed, but only fair on red deadnettle. Pursuit is also labeled for clovers.

Finally, Select (as well as generic products such as Arrow) and Poast are labeled for grass control in alfalfa. Apply Poast to grass weeds less than 8 inches tall and always include a crop oil adjuvant. Poast is also labeled for use in clovers.

Quote of the Week

“When your outgo exceeds your income, the upshot may be your downfall.”

— Paul Harvey

Leon Ressler is district director of Penn State Cooperative Extension for Chester, Lancaster and Lebanon counties.

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