It is mid-June and throughout the Corn Belt corn is waist to shoulder high with early planted fields beginning to reveal tassels. Soybeans are all ankle to knee high and early planted beans are beginning to bloom. In a typical year those conditions all might be true, but 2009 is not typical and those descriptions of corn and soybean fields are little more than pipedreams in many regions. A complete assessment will be an important element in many marketing plans.
USDA’s Weekly Crop Progress Report  indicates the Corn Belt is not short of water this spring. In fact, surplus water has hampered crop development in some regions of the eastern Corn Belt.
Illinois: Continued cool, wet weather permitted only three days of fieldwork. Most of the precipitation was received early in the week, which allowed producers the opportunity to start wrapping up corn planting, with soybeans not that far behind. Some fields are uneven and turning yellow due to the excess rainfall. The average height of corn is 10 in., compared to 11 in. in 2008 and 25 in. for the five-year average. Only half of the soybeans have emerged, compared to the five year average of 86%. Topsoil moisture is 40% surplus and 59% adequate.
Indiana: Farmers were making good progress with fieldwork until more rain fell across the state mid-week. Heavy rain showers left standing water in many fields around the state, which puts farmers further behind with planting, spraying and side-dressing corn with nitrogen. Producers in some central and southern areas have now begun taking prevented planting payments on some acreage that was intended to be corn or are switching to soybeans. Only three days were suitable for fieldwork last week, in part because the topsoil moisture is 39% in surplus. Sixteen percent of the soybeans have not yet been planted, compared to a 7% average for this time of year.
Iowa: Even with flooding problems in the southeast, most of the state’s corn and soybean fields made good progress. One hundred percent of the corn has been planted and 99% is emerged with 78% in good to excellent condition. Soybeans are 97% planted and 92% emerged, with 75% in good to excellent condition. Iowa again received widespread rainfall along with cooler temperatures last week. While northwest producers rejoiced, the southeast is again under flood watch as rain continued to saturate the region. Currently, 74% of the topsoil has adequate moisture and 24% is in surplus.
Kansas: Eighty percent of the wheat is turning color, slightly behind the 87% average, and 9% is ripe, well behind the 41% average. Twenty-four percent has light insect infestation and 36% has light disease infestation. Forty-nine percent of the sorghum has emerged, which is about average. The topsoil moisture is 77% adequate and 12% in surplus.
Michigan: The average corn height is 6 in. Although added moisture is expected to improve emergence where conditions were less than ideal for planting; additional rainfall kept farmers out of fields. Crop development continued to be delayed by cooler-than-normal temperatures. Growers continued to hope for warmer temperatures to spur crop development. Growers sprayed and side-dressed crops as weather permitted. Soybean planting is nearly complete. Nitrogen side-dressing of corn occurred. Topsoil is 80% adequate and 15% in surplus.
Minnesota: Corn averages 9 in. in height, compared to the 11-in. average; soybeans are 3 in. tall, compared to the 4-in. average. Crop growth and development was slowed by a cool, damp start to the week; however, more seasonal weather returned by weeks end. Producers generally reported a need for warmer weather. The number of growing degree days since May 4 was below normal for all reporting stations. The percentage of small grains and row crops rated good to excellent was generally unchanged compared to last week, despite rain falling across much of the state. Only four days were suitable for fieldwork, with 60% of the topsoil having adequate moisture and 6% in surplus.
Missouri: Wet weather continues with an average of 2 in. of rain across the state and 39% of the topsoil having surplus moisture, with 60% in the adequate category. Ninety-three percent of spring tillage is complete, compared to 96% of normal.
Nebraska: Corn is rated 82% in good to excellent condition, and soybeans are 80% good to excellent. Ninety-six percent of the sorghum has been planted and 73% has emerged. Winter wheat is 74% good to excellent and 93% has headed. The wet week only allowed two days of fieldwork, but only 5% of soils have surplus moisture, with 81% listed adequate. Flooding, hail and severe storms in parts of Nebraska have resulted in crop damage. Winter wheat harvest is likely to start at the end of the month in the southeast and by mid-July in the Panhandle.
North Dakota: Mostly below-normal precipitation last week allowed producers to finish a majority of their seeding. As seeding neared completion, spraying crops was the most widely reported activity in fields across the state. Nearly six days were suitable for fieldwork and only 15% of the topsoil has surplus moisture. Ninety-one percent of the durum crop has emerged – about on average – but only 10% of the spring wheat has jointed, well below the 51% average. The barley crop is also behind in development.
Ohio: Ninety-seven percent of the corn has emerged and is rated 77% in good to excellent condition. Ninety-seven percent of the soybeans have been planted, about on average, and 74% are in good to excellent condition. Only four days were suitable for fieldwork because of continuing moisture, which has left 24% of the topsoil with surplus water. Seventy-four percent of the winter wheat is in good to excellent condition and 25% is turning color, slightly behind the 40% average for this time of year.
South Dakota: The average height of corn is 6 in. slightly behind the 9-in. average for this time of year and 51% has been sprayed or cultivated at least once. Fifty-four percent of the sorghum has emerged, ahead of the average. Ninety-three percent of the winter wheat is in the boot stage, about average; and 58% of the spring wheat is in the boot state, slightly below average. Cool temperatures and moisture were the weather theme for the past week, with most of the state receiving a nice shower throughout the week. Three days were suitable for fieldwork, and only 6% of the topsoil has surplus moisture.
Wisconsin: Fourteen percent of the corn has not yet emerged, but the 86% that has is about 7 in. tall. Ninety-six percent of the soybeans have been planted and 80% have emerged. Some timely rains fell across the state but temperatures remained cool. Growers were anticipating sunshine and warmer temperatures to help kick-start the growth of many of their crops. Seventy-six percent of the topsoil has adequate moisture and only 9% is in surplus.
The Corn Belt has plenty of moisture. Nearly every state reported significant percentages of topsoil with surplus moisture, however farmers who were able to get planted early have seen good crop development with very little stress. Significant areas in the eastern Corn Belt remain unplanted, and crop conditions reflect stress.