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Update for May 20th, 2022

Planting Delays vs Yields & Memorial Day Weekend Outlook An agronomist with Iowa State University believes that the cold temps and rain that significantly delayed the start of the planting season in Iowa will equate to lower corn yields than we’ve seen in recent years. In addition to the slower than normal planting progress, weather outlooks for the summer months predict a drier than normal season ahead for the entire Corn Belt.

Mark Licht, an ISU Extension cropping systems specialist that studies yield trends said, “I do suspect that the high, high yield potential, we probably lost. I don’t mean that we can’t still have above trend-line yields, I just don’t think we’ll see the record-breaking yields we’ve seen in the last couple years. I think we’ve maybe taken the top end off of it. How much is yet to be determined.”

The start to this growing season has been compared to that of 2013 a number of times. Spring planting also started out slow that year and the average corn yield in Iowa was 164 bushels per acre. Quite a reduction from the record set last year of 205 bushels per acre. The slow start in 2013 was then followed up with widespread dryness that summer which further diminished yields, very similar to the scenario expected this year. Jason Glisan, state climatologist for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, said “That’s why banking subsoil moisture now is a good thing.” A recent USDA report noted that 90% of Iowa’s topsoil has adequate or surplus moisture, which will definitely be of great assistance if we do have a dry summer. Glisan estimates that right now the crop has around 10 to 12 inches of water available to it in the soil, this is only about 50% of what the corn needs to reach optimal yields. Even with the later than normal planting time Licht says, yields can increase “if we can get some timely rains.”

Reports this week say that the United Nations, in an effort to avoid food shortages, is in “intense contact” with Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, the EU and the U.S. regarding the suspension of grain exports. The U.N. is requesting that Russia allow exports of Ukrainian agriculture products to resume and in exchange Russia would be allowed to resume full and unrestricted exports of both food and fertilizer. But since there are no actual sanctions in place limiting exports of Russian fertilizer or grain it is likely the West will have to lift some of the economic sanctions that are currently in place if there is any hope of a deal. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, “I am hopeful, but there is still a way to go…The complex security, economic and financial implications require goodwill on all sides.” The U.N. ambassador from Russia said, “The discussions, as far as I know, went well and positive…We are prepared to do our share. The Ukrainian grain market access, that’s another thing.”

In the meantime, though the fighting rages on in Ukraine. On May 11 a Russian pilot attacked a John Deere 8335 tractor and operator as he was cultivating a field in eastern Ukraine. The person in the tractor survived but is badly injured.

Data from the U.S. Department of Energy shows that our Strategic Petroleum Reserve is being depleted and has dropped to 538 million barrels. This is the lowest level the Reserve has held since 1987. The illustration below shows an incorrect inventory balance for our current supply but shows where the 60 underground salt caverns are located that hold the supply of oil which is stored in barrels and the breaks down exactly what that supply offers. (Reuters)

There is considerable concern that the U.S. and world supply of diesel fuel is declining. In the eastern U.S. prices have increased to over $6.00 per gallon which is equivalent to $250 per barrel of oil. The problem isn’t really a result of an oil shortage or even the sanctions against Russia but instead it is being caused by a shortage of refinery capacity. Rumors are that some countries are considering banning the export of diesel fuel and some limitations are already being put in place in some locations here in the U.S. This is an important situation to monitor, no one wants to be caught without an adequate supply for our farming needs.

The Port of Portland in the northwestern U.S. is planning to expand their operations to boost farm export and import capacities. They plan to invest $10.5 million to replace pavement and stormwater drains on 10 acres next to Terminal 6 and hope to do further upgrades over time. This port has struggled in the past due to labor disputes and financial losses but remains an important link between our U.S. grain supplies and our Asian markets. So far in 2022 the terminal has handled 24,000 containers, a 60% increase from a year ago. Once the expansion project is complete the terminal will be able to handle about 26,000 more per year than it can now.

A major winter storm is forecast for a large portion of Colorado. A warning is already in place for Denver and areas to the west where 18-24 inches of heavy, wet snow is expected to fall today and tomorrow. We aren’t expecting any snow from the system but much cooler air is predicted to arrive and stick around for a few days. Tomorrow’s forecast calls for highs in the 50’s for many areas, these temps aren’t expected to break any low temp records but they will be close.

Looking ahead to next week and the Memorial Day weekend we start out the week cold and wet but trends indicate the weekend should be dry and much warmer. Monday through Wednesday expect highs in the 50’s and 60’s with a chance of moderate rainfall Tuesday into Wednesday. As the weekend approaches temps are expected to return to seasonal levels or slightly above and both the GFS and EURO weather models show a dry outlook as well. This is a full week away so the forecast can certainly change but as of now it looks promising. The graph below shows expected high and low temps for the next 2 weeks. The red box shows the specifics for the Memorial Day weekend.

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