U.S. corn planting  progress slipped off a record pace last week as wet, cold weather limited planting activity in the western Corn Belt, even though producers in the eastern Belt made good progress last week.
USDA  estimated U.S. producers had planted 28% of their 2012 corn crop as of Sunday, up from 17% a week earlier and the five-year average of 15%. However, while the planting pace remained well ahead of normal, it fell behind the record pace for April 15 of 37%, set in 2010 and the 30% that had been planted in 2004.
USDA estimated that 9% of the U.S. corn  crop had emerged as of Sunday versus a five-year average of 2%. That is the fastest emergence pace for April 15 since USDA started tracking emergence in 1999. In 2010 only about 4% of the crop had emerged by the date.
Iowa producers made limited planting progress last week due to significant rains across the northern half of the state and cool temperatures. Iowa corn planting progress was estimated at 9% as of Sunday, up from 5% a week earlier and 3% a year earlier, but behind the five-year average pace of 16%.
Planting progress was also slow in Minnesota with 11% of that state’s crop said to be in the ground as of Sunday, up from 7% a week earlier, but just behind the five-year average of 12%.
The corn crop continued to go in the ground at a record pace in Illinois with 59% of the state’s crop reported planted against a five-year average of only 17%. USDA reported 21% of Illinois corn had already emerged compared with the average pace of just 1%.
Planting activity also accelerated in Indiana and Ohio. Some 46% of the Indiana crop planted, up from 24% a week earlier and a five-year average of just 10%, while Ohio planting progress reached 34% up from 10% a week earlier and the average pace of 8%.
The bottom line is that while some of the advantage of the early start to planting has been lost, primarily in the western Corn Belt, this is still shaping up to be an early planting season.
Drier weather across the western Corn Belt should allow producers to make better progress this week and more than 50% of the U.S. corn crop should be in the ground by May 1, suggesting potential for an above-trend yield, given favorable weather during the key summer growing period.
Cold weather remains a concern, however, as forecasters say temperatures could dip below freezing in the Midwest again late this week and early next week. The coldest conditions are expected Sunday and Monday mornings. World Weather Inc. sees potential for damage to some corn and wheat fields, but adds that it is "too soon for specifics."
Editor’s note: Richard Brock, Corn & Soybean Digest's marketing editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.