Is U.S. Planting Progress Really at Average Pace?

This spring has been an interesting one for U.S. producers of corn and soybeans.

Following a fairly mild February/March, it looked like the 2024 planting season was going to be quick and early, as soil was quickly warming and snowpack over most of the Midwest was zero or close to zero.

However, April turned wet, which slowly dashed any hopes of "quick and early." Fast-forward to the end of May, and there are still producers trying to get crops planted as the rains have hung around.

While the most recent data says we have caught up to average, some of these numbers need to be investigated a bit further to see if this is truly the case.

As of the most recent weekly report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pegged corn planting in the U.S. at 83% complete and soybean planting at 68% complete. These numbers compare to the respective five-year averages of 82% and 63% as of the same week.

On the surface, it would appear as though we are ahead of average, and the late planting conversation should be behind us. But when you really dive into the numbers that make up that five-year average, you’ll quickly notice an outlier.

The planting pace numbers for corn the past five years go 92%, 86%, 95%, 88%, 58%. The numbers for soybeans go 83%, 66%, 84%, 65%,...