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Rainy weather keeps soybean planting pace at 19-year low

June 23, 2015

Rainy weather kept farmers out of U.S. fields last week, putting soybean plantings and winter-wheat harvesting at their slowest pace in almost two decades.

Ninety percent of the U.S. soybean crop was planted as of June 21, the slowest pace for this time of year since 1996, U.S. Department of Agriculture Data show. Nineteen percent of the winter-wheat crop was harvested, the lowest since 1997. The U.S. is the largest exporter of both crops.

Soybean futures are heading for the biggest monthly gain since February after showers across the Midwest muddied soils, leaving farmers struggling to sow crops. Prices have rebounded 7.1 percent since reaching their lowest point in almost five years on June 15. The commodity has been trapped in a bear market amid expanding global inventories.

“The soybean crop is losing yield potential from late planting and flooded fields,” Bill Nelson, a senior economist at Doane Advisory Services Co., said in a telephone interview from St. Louis.

Parts of the Midwest received more than six times the normal amount of rainfall in the week ended Monday, National Weather Service data show. States including Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio had less than two days suitable for fieldwork last week, the USDA report said. The Chicago Board of Trade declared a condition of force majeure for grain deliveries on Wednesday as many shipping stations on the Illinois River could not load.

About 65 percent of the soybean crop was rated in good or excellent condition as of Sunday, the USDA data show. That’s down from 67 percent a week earlier, and compares with 72 percent a year earlier. Based on the drop in ratings, yields may be half a bushel to 1 bushel smaller than the USDA forecast for 46 bushels an acre nationally, Nelson said.

Linn & Associates LLC estimates that about 8.4 million acres of soybeans were left to be planted as of June 21, citing farmer intentions in a March 31 USDA report for its outlook. The U.S. agency forecasts farmers would plant 84.6 million acres this year.

Winter-wheat collection in Kansas, the largest producer, was 8-percent complete as of Sunday, compared to the prior five-year average of 33 percent. Harvesting in Illinois and Missouri also remained well behind average.

“There was a lot of wheat hurt by too much rain this past week, especially fields that were ready to harvest,” Craig Hays, a market analyst for Linn in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “The crops from Missouri to Ohio really took a beating.”

Weekend showers fell across many Midwestern states, with parts of South Dakota, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana receiving 4 inches to 7 inches, Commodity Weather Group said in a report e-mailed Monday. This week, “widespread coverage” will return late Wednesday through Friday, while precipitation is expected to slow in the 6- to 15-day forecast, easing “recent Midwest wetness concerns,” the Bethesda, Maryland-based forecaster wrote.

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