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US Crop Update – May 3, 2022


Steve Doench, Head of Sustainable Agronomy
Steve Doench, Technical Sales Agronomist
  1. A cool and wet spring has delayed the start of corn and soybean planting in the US, with very small windows to date and cool soil temperatures so far. Soil temperatures will be less important going forward, and planting will depend on the ability to run machinery in the field.
  2. This week, the forecast is wet and cool in the western and central corn-belt. North Dakota and northern Minnesota avoid the rain but are still cool, so field drying will not be fast. Longer-term weather shows May being wetter and cooler than normal. This keeps planting progress delayed and leads to debates on preventative planting acreage losses, reduced yield potential from late planting, and more switching from corn to soybeans.
  3. US hard red wheat is experiencing the poorest conditions in 20 years. Still, some rain is in the forecast to help stabilize conditions as it begins to enter flowering stages in the next two weeks.

Slow planting

The 2022 US crop season still does look profitable for farmers as commodity prices have rebounded since harvest and La Nina dryness in South America is adding expectations for reduced corn and soybean production that is tightening global supplies. Supply chain challenges will continue to cause availability issues and increased input costs.

The 2022 crop season is off to a slow start, with planting progress similar to the very delayed season of 2019. The cool and wet month of April has not allowed planting and even pre-planting fieldwork to be accomplished on time, and current planting delays rival 2019 at this point. Due to high input costs,  especially for fertilizer, the USDA expects that farmers will plant more soybeans than corn. Corn would still have a marginal advantage over soybeans in the central corn belt despite these higher fertilizer costs. Due to the delayed planting season, it is less and less likely that corn acres can gain back over soybeans because early corn planting typically encourages additional corn acres to be planted. There are exceptions like 2007, where corn gained 2.4 million acres from the March to June USDA estimates. Still, in general, soybean acres should remain higher than corn acres. As far as total acres, there is a risk of increased prevented planting (PP) claims due to the slow planting progress and weather forecast showing cooler and wetter conditions into mid-May. Higher commodity prices encourage farmers to use PP as a last resort instead of a way to take off risk and not plant. 

May’s weather will be critical now that the planting window has shrunk.
The corn planting progress at the beginning of May is 14% complete vs. the 5-year average of 33% and soybean planting progress is 8% complete vs. 13% for the 5-year average.

The tables below show the planting progress on various dates in April and May 2022 in the typical growing states of corn and soybean.

Data from Unites States Department of Agriculture.

The table shows the 5-year average planting of Corn and soybean on May 1st from 2017 through 2022. No other year since then has been slower in corn planting.  For soybean planting, 2022 May 1st planting is well below average.

5-year average corn and soybean planting on May 1st

Weather impacts


In the last week of April, there were significant rain events over the central USA, with particular high rain amounts above 1 inch in North Dakota and Wyoming, parts of the corn belt, Texas, and Oklahoma.

The map below highlights the variation in 7-day precipitation over the central USA

The total rain in April, shows that a large part of the central USA received over 2 inches of rain.

April precipitation was a high as 27" in total in some areas of the central USA


The northern half of the USA experienced temperatures below normal over the month of April. Those lower temperatures continued into the last week of April, for large areas in the north and west.

The US soil temperatures continued to be below the planting threshold of 50 degrees in many areas. After May 1st, soil temperatures matter less. If fields can handle machinery, planting will occur.

Soil temperature across the USA on Friday April 29, 2022

Drought Monitor

Even though many areas have received a lot of precipitation, drought conditions are still in place in the western corn-belt and the western US. Some improvement is expected in places like Kansas and Nebraska over the next few weeks.

Winter wheat

Winter wheat crops continue to struggle, with the lowest crop condition ratings in 20 years. However, conditions have been slightly cooler to normal. Hence, the wheat crop in Kansas is a little behind in development and can take advantage of the recent rain and rain that is in the forecast better than if it was further along.

Winter wheat crop conditions over the years

In the first half of April, frosts were an issue, especially in SW Kansas. Winter kill and high winds in dry soils earlier in the winter and early spring did not help struggling wheat. So far, wheat diseases have been minimal, and the grain quality outlook is good. Widespread rain is needed to turn around expectations for well below normal yields in HRW areas in 2022. The images below show the departure from normal temperatures and percentage of normal precipitation for the winter wheat growing areas.

May outlook

The more extended-range weather forecasts indicate May as wetter and temperatures below normal which will continue to slow planting progress. The biggest areas of concern would be North Dakota and NW Minnesota facing prevent planting decisions later in May if current weather forecasts hold.

Extended temperature and precipitation outlook departure from normal May 2022

The short-term weather outlook predicts precipitation across the central corn-belt and also in the hard red winter wheat regions, who are in need of the rain.

First 11 days of May are wet in many areas across the USA

May will be a big month for determining how the crop performance will be in 2022.  Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest developments.

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