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US Corn Faces Risk of Prevent Plant in Northern States, Gro Model Shows

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As US corn planting begins to take off, farmers in the US northern Plains are facing delays in getting seeds into the ground because of record winter snowpack. Planting setbacks are likely to increase in the coming weeks as spring flooding forces farmers to decide whether to forgo planting a significant portion of their corn crop because of saturated soils. 

The Dakotas and Minnesota are especially vulnerable to getting fewer corn acres planted than originally intended, according to Gro’s Prevent Plant Model for corn, which began this week to predict how many acres will be prevented from being planted. Temperatures in the northern states are forecast to remain below normal for the next two weeks, as shown by Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture, which could further delay planting. 

Gro’s Prevent Plant models, for both US corn and soybeans, update daily and forecast which areas of the US Midwest are likely to have planting problems because of overly wet soil. The machine learning-based models, which increase in accuracy as the season progresses, use a host of environmental data to predict the amount of acreage at the county and state levels that farmers will be unable to plant. 

The USDA in March projected that corn acreage would increase by nearly 4% to 92 million acres this year. But prevent-plant could instead encourage farmers to put fewer acres into corn and more acres into soybeans, which are planted later. 

For the US as a whole, 14% of the corn crop had been planted as of April 23. That was up 6 percentage points from the prior week, and 3 percentage points ahead of the five-year average. Planting progress in every major corn-planting state was ahead of average except in the northern states of Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas, where cool and wet conditions continue to slow fieldwork.

To plan effectively, seed, fertilizer, and other companies that sell into the agricultural sector need up-to-date information about current and future demand for their products. Gro’s Prevent Plant models’ estimates allow our customers to measure the impact of lost acreage well in advance of the USDA’s FSA Crop Acreage Data report, which issues its first estimates for prevent-plant acres in August and a final number the following January. Prevent-plant estimates are also important because they have a direct effect on final crop production numbers. 

Gro’s US Prevent Plant Models are available as part of Gro’s US Farmer Profitability & Crop Budgets Application, a tool that provides detailed, holistic views into US farmer profit and loss prospects. It does this by aggregating and structuring public data sources and combining this information with Gro’s proprietary models across yields, input and selling prices, supply and demand, climate and weather, and trade.

Last year, Gro’s US Prevent Plant Models, which are also available in the Gro Portal with a Premium subscription, performed as of June 2022 within 99% of the USDA’s final reported number the following January, as highlighted in Gro’s 2022 Performance Report.  

The last year of significant prevent-plant corn acreage was 2019, when a record 11.3 million acres of corn couldn’t be planted. Gro’s Prevent Plant Models forecast a massive jump in prevent-plant acres for the year, but historic flooding in many areas of the Corn Belt ultimately drove prevent-plant acres even above Gro’s forecasts. 

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