Chicago | Reuters — Soybean planting surged ahead of schedule across the U.S. Midwest during the past week as farmers neared the end of their corn seeding, U.S. government data released on Tuesday showed.
Good weather in key growing areas also allowed farmers in the northern U.S. Plains to seed large tracts of their spring wheat acreage.
The report was bearish for futures prices and traders said investors will likely be focused on key technical support points when the market reopens. Soybean, corn and wheat futures posted sharp declines on Monday.
The U.S. Agriculture Department said in its weekly crop progress report that soybean planting was a better-than-expected 59 per cent complete as of Sunday, topping the late-May five-year average of 56 per cent and up 26 percentage points from a week ago.
In Iowa, typically the biggest production state for the oilseed, soybean planting jumped to 80 per cent complete from 40 per cent.
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“Warm temperatures and below-normal precipitation allowed soybean planting and crop progress to advance rapidly during the week,” the Iowa field office of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) said in a report.
Spring wheat seeding was a better-than-expected 74 per cent complete, still behind the five-year average of 82 per cent but topping analysts forecasts for 65 per cent. A week ago, just 49 per cent of the crop was seeded.
The biggest advances in spring wheat seeding came in northern areas, where rainy field conditions and cool soil temperatures had kept farmers sidelined for weeks.
In North Dakota, the largest spring wheat producer, spring wheat seeding was 59 per cent complete, up 34 percentage points from a week earlier. In Minnesota, spring wheat planted acreage jumped to 67 per cent from 20 per cent.
NASS’s North Dakota field office said temperatures were 4 to 8 F above normal last week but some rain during the weekend will likely slow farmers during the next few days.
USDA also said that corn planting was 88 per cent complete as of May 25, matching analysts’ expectations as well as the five-year average.
“The corn is in the ground,” said Chris Robinson, senior trader at Top Third Ag Marketing. “In the next six to eight weeks, it is really in the hands of Mother Nature.”
Some much needed rain in the U.S. Plains boosted the winter wheat ratings for the first time in 2014, although concerns about the crop remained.
The crop grown in the U.S. Plains was rated 31 per cent good to excellent as of May 25, up two percentage points from a week earlier. Analysts had predicted good-to-excellent ratings of 30 per cent.
— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago.