Planting in region rallies after weather conditions kept growers off fields
Farmers caught up last week after rainy and cold weather significantly delayed planting across the Delmarva region, the USDA reported.
The May 9 Crop Progress report showed that Maryland farmers had planted roughly a quarter of their corn, far below the 42-percent five-year average. By May 16, 56 percent had been planted, just 3 percent short of the weekly five-year average.
Delaware’s planting progress largely mirrored Maryland’s. The less-than-ideal weather forced growers to spend more time prepping sodden fields, and an early May cold snap left growers wary of planting corn and beans due to soil temperatures.
“Right now, conditions are good here,” said Chip Bowling, who manages 1,600 acres in St. Mary’s County. “People are making a lot of headway. I’m kind of caught up.”
Soybeans in Maryland leapt from 15-percent planted on May 9 to 32 percent on May 16, well above the state’s 16-percent five-year average.
Growers may have been able to reach 70 percent by late last week, said Lindsay Thompson, executive director of the Maryland Grain Producers. Commodity prices may also be driving late planting decisions, she said.
“We’re seeing commodity prices we haven’t seen since 2015,” she said.
Bowling said he decided to switch beans he was planning to plant due to deer damage back to corn to capitalize on its elevated price ($6.58 on May 20). After a wet winter and early spring, he said, conditions were recovering last week. He said he was tilling areas of his farm to break up combine ruts and noticed the soil rapidly drying as a result.
Corn emergence in Maryland and Delaware was 32 percent last week, tracking with their five-year averages.
John Bruning said this year’s growing season has been ideal. He raises 500 acres of corn and 350 acres of beans in Worcester County, Md.
“I feel like we were, if anything, ahead of schedule,” he said. “Compared to years past, this has been a breeze. Last year we were fighting rain and struggling to get it in. This year it’s been wonderful.”
Corn and bean planting in Virginia has been trending well above its five-year averages for the last two weeks. More than 80 percent of corn and more than 30 percent of soybeans were planted May 16.
Winter wheat heading in all three states — 89 percent in Maryland, 70 percent in Delaware and 80 percent in Virginia — was exceeding or closely trailing its five-year averages.