Economic Tidbits

Keep Those Planters Rolling

Rolling, rolling, rolling—keep those planters rolling. The USDA National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS) reported 30 percent of the state’s corn crop was planted and 16 percent of the soybean crop was planted as of May 1. Land planted to field crops in Nebraska this year is expected to be 19.7 million acres. The largest two crops will be corn (9.5 million acres expected to be planted) and soybeans (5.75 million acres). 

Each spring farmers race against time, weather, and breakdowns to plant crops. Figure 1 shows the average progress for corn and soybean planting since 1996. The data comes from the weekly crop progress reports released by NASS. Planting of corn typically starts around April 8, with 83 percent of the crop planted between April 21-May 21. The earliest finish for corn planting was in 2021 when it was completed during the week ending June 6. The latest occurred in 2019 when it was not completed until the week ending June 23. The start of soybean planting lags corn by about two weeks beginning in earnest around April 22, with 83 percent of the crop planted between April 28 and June 1. The earliest finish for soybean planting occurred in 2012 when it was completed during the week ending June 3. The latest occurred in 2015 and 2019, finishing during the first week of July. 

Figure 1 also shows the progress made this year through May 1 compared to the average since 1996. Thus far, farmers are running ahead of schedule. Corn planting progress is slightly above average and progress for soybeans is running about ten percentage points above average. No doubt the ongoing drought and dryness is aiding the progress. There is a saying, “plant in dust and the bins will bust.” Farmers hope it rings true this year. 

Figure 1. Weekly Corn & Soybean Planting Progress, 1996-2022 Average vs. 2023

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

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