The planting of the 2020 crop in the United States started under very favorable conditions. With a percentage well above the historical average for the year, until last week, it will be difficult to observe a strong switch from the corn acreage to other crops or no planting this year. With low prices, producers seek cultures with high productivity – and corn is this culture. It may not reach the 97 million acres suggested by USDA, but a planting area of 94/95 million will still be great. However, a great start does not mean a perfect ending, and attention will continue until August, starting with this month of May, which has been very dry and with a late cold reaching the Midwest.
The U.S. crop of 2020 starts in a completely different way from that registered in 2019. Last year, already in March, signs of excessive moisture from flooding in the Midwest were being pointed out by meteorological services. A rainy May caused did not allow the planting in almost 10 million acres, which were switched mainly to soybeans. In 2020, the climate started very dry in the second half of April and with spotty rain forecast for the entire month of May, i.e. below normal. This means that June and July will not be able to maintain this rate of discreet rain in the Midwest under the risk of problems in an early planted crop.
The planting reached 51% last week, an index that usually occurs on average around May 10. The historic average for this time is 39%. Theoretically, early planting generates increase in the potential for productivity, and it would not be surprising if the first projections by the market and USDA were high on account of this early planting pace. In 2012, it is important to remember, the U.S. crop was also planted very early and with initial projections of record productivity. However, in mid-May rains simply disappeared, and then came the record of the biggest crop losses in the U.S. history. Soybeans also had a very early planting this year, with 23% of the area already cultivated, against average 11%. There is a strong cold front with frosts for this week in much of the Midwest, a situation that may cause some replanting or even a longer germination delay.