Corn Planting Slow in Some Areas

May 14, 2018


If you ask someone: “How much corn is planted, or how much Spring fieldwork has occurred in your area ?”, the response is likely to be quite different, depending on where the person resides. Late heavy snowfall in mid-April and frequent rainfall events during the first half of May in much of Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa has caused significant delays in corn and soybean planting in many portions of this region, as well as in adjoining areas of South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Producers in other portions of Minnesota and Iowa, as well as other areas of the Upper Midwest, were able to complete some corn planting and fieldwork during the second week of May. As of May 6, it was estimated that only 9 percent of the corn in Minnesota was planted, which was about 16 days behind normal. Most likely, the May 13 crop progress report will show overall some progress in the percentage of corn planted in both Minnesota and Iowa. However, less than 25 percent of the corn is planted in many portions of the highly productive areas in the southern two tiers of counties in Minnesota, as well as adjoining areas of Northern Iowa and Southeastern South Dakota.

One piece of good news, is that the soil temperatures are very favorable for good planting conditions, once the fields dry out adequately for corn and soybean planting. Most growers will move immediately into soybean planting, once corn planting is completed. The warmer soil temperatures, along with adequate top soil moisture, should provide some good conditions for rapid seed germination and early growth of the newly planted corn and soybeans. Research shows that 50 percent corn emergence will occur in about 20 days at an average soil temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit, which is reduced to only 10 days or less at an average soil temperature above 60 degrees F.

Agronomists are advising growers to stick with planting full-season corn hybrids for another couple of weeks in Southern Minnesota, probably until last week of May, before moving to earlier corn hybrids, or switching major acreage to soybeans. Research from the University of Minnesota has shown that corn planted on May 25 in Southern Minnesota averaged over 90 percent of the yield of corn that was planted from April 25 to May 10 in the same year. Corn yield potential begins to decline quite rapidly for corn planted after June 1. The “planting window” for soybeans is significantly wider than it is for corn. In Southern Minnesota, full-season varieties of soybeans can be planted until late May or early June, with only minimal reductions in yield potential.

In 2017, only 35 percent of the corn in Minnesota was planted on May 7; however that total jumped to 84 percent by May 14, including nearly all of the corn in Southern Minnesota. The rest of the 2017 growing season featured favorable growing conditions in the next several months, along with a later than normal killing frost in most areas. The result was a record statewide corn yield of 194 bushels per acre in 2017. In 2015, Minnesota had 83 percent of the corn planted on May 3, resulting in a record yield of 188 bushels per acre, which was followed with 89 percent of the corn planted by May 8 in 2016, again resulting in another record statewide corn yield of 193 bushels per acre.

The last time that the State of Minnesota faced significant planting delays was in 2014. Only 31 percent of the State’s corn was planted on May 11, and 51 percent on May 18. It took until May 25 to reach 81 percent of the corn planted, and June 1 to exceed 90 percent planted. The result was a statewide average corn yield of only 156 bushels per acre in 2014. It’s far too early to predict dire consequences for the 2018 corn yields; however, as corn planting continues to be delayed, the room for error in weather conditions during the rest of the growing season will get much narrower.

Weather conditions in the next ten days to two weeks will determine how serious the corn and soybean planting delays in many areas of Southern Minnesota become. Further delays in Spring planting could have a major economic impact on farm operators in that region, especially with continued lower crop prices and very tight crop production profit margins in 2018.



The Final Planting Date for corn in the southern two-thirds of Minnesota, as well as in all of Iowa, and Wisconsin is May 31, in order to receive full crop insurance coverage for 2018. The Late Planting Period for corn is June 1-25, with a reduction in the insurance coverage level of one percent for each day that corn planting is delayed past May 31. In Northern Minnesota, the final date for corn planting with full insurance coverage is May 25. For soybeans, the Final Planting Date is June 10 in Minnesota and the northern two-thirds of Wisconsin, and June 15 in Iowa and the southern one-third of Wisconsin, with the Final Planting Date extending for 25 days until July 5 in Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin, and until July 10 in Iowa and Southern Wisconsin. For crops planted after the final dates for the Late Planting Period, crop insurance coverage is set at a maximum of 55 percent of the original insurance guarantee, which is the same as the prevented planting insurance coverage.

It is important to pay close attention to the Final Planting Dates and the Late Planting Period when making late planting or prevented planting crop insurance decisions. Producers should contact their crop insurance agent for more details on final planting dates and prevented planting options with various crop insurance policies. There are also some good fact sheets available on the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) web site at:

Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst, has prepared an information sheet titled: “Late and Prevented Planting Options For 2018”, which contains details on prevented planting requirements and considerations, as well as Tables comparing the potential results for options of late planting or prevented planting with normal production for corn and soybeans. To receive a copy of the prevented planting information sheet, please send an e-mail to:



Note — For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst and Senior

Vice President, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. (Phone — (507) 381-7960);

E-mail —


Blog Focus on Ag
Previous Next