Iowa, the top corn-producing state in the U.S., trails the national average, which showed 7% of the corn in the ground through April 17. Illinois, which ranks second among corn producing states, has 9% of its corn planted, while Missouri has 26% planted.
Farmers have been unable to plant their crop due to rain and soil temperatures, which are still too cool for planting, according to Harry Hillaker, state climatologist for the Iowa Department of Agriculture. The wettest week since November and temperatures as much as 10 degrees F below normal reversed an initial warming of the spring soil. A 50-degree F soil temperature threshold is needed for corn plant germination. "I like to be in the field with the corn planter around April 12, but obviously I won't get there this year," said corn farmer Sean Harmon.
The markets are watching corn planting progress more closely than usual because domestic corn stocks are at a 15-year low, with export and ethanol demand still going strong, according to experts. Any significant weather problems with the crop this spring and summer could raise corn prices even higher, which could lead to higher meat prices and affect ethanol plants and livestock producers.