chicago / reuters / U.S. farmers had planted three per cent of this year’s corn crop by April 1, matching the fastest pace on record, as they took advantage of the warmest March on record to start running their planters early, according to U.S. Agriculture Department data issued April 2.
A year ago, farmers had planted two per cent of their corn crop, which matches the five-year average for the beginning of April. Forecasters predicted April could be another warmer-than-normal month, though they said temperatures were likely to fluctuate in a more seasonal pattern in the first half of the month and that fewer records would be shattered.
Typically, the first USDA progress report of the season does not include a corn-planting update but the government said it included the information this year as the warm weather has generated intense interest around the pace of planting.
Farmers in the Midwest Grain Belt typically push to finish corn planting when the weather is in their favour — as it is now after the warmest March on record — instead of switching midstream to soybeans.
Growers hope that by seeding their corn early it will be safely past its key pollination phase by the time scorching heat arrives in the U.S. Midwest in July. High temperatures during pollination often result in smaller yields at harvest.