Corn Planting Delayed in Illinois and Midwest

Corn planting has been delayed in Illinois and much of the Midwest because of a week of rainy weather.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said today that Illinois farmers have planted 10 percent of of their anticipated 12.8 million-acre crop. Corn planting is only 1 percent more than a week, ago. Normally about 27 percent of the corn crop is planted by now.

The USDA says farmers in Iowa, Indiana and other key corn states are also delayed. Nine percent of the United States corn crop has been planted. Normally about 25 percent of the corn crop is planted by late April.

With prices high, United States farmers are expected to plant a huge 92.2 million acres of corn this year. Corn prices – which usually means the price of corn futures – are closely tied to energy prices, because corn is used to make ethanol, a component of some gasoline mixtures.

Rain is forecast in most of the region for the west of the week.

“Air Tractor” Crop dusting cornfields south of Prophetstown, Illinois by Frank’s cropdusting service out of Fenton, Illinois.

In 2009 the United States produced about 310,010, 910 tons of corn — about twice the production of China.

Corn is the most widely produced feed grain (fodder) in the United States, accounting for more than 90 percent of total production. The majority of corn crop is used as livestock feed; the remainder is processed into a multitude of food and industrial products including starch, sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, and ethanol for use as a fuel. As of Monday, April 25, 2011 corn prices were up 25.25 at 762.50 cents per bushel ($7.62/bushel). Corn prices peaked at around $7.88/bushel in June 2008 after the Iowa floods.

Demand for ethanol is directly related to the ratio between oil and corn prices – how much ethanol can be sold for (essentially the price of oil) divided by the cost to acquire corn (corn prices). If this ratio is higher than 90%, manufacturers will earn enough money to cover the cost of building an ethanol plant and to use it, according to the Congressional Budget Office/Congress of the United States. However, governments across the world have implemented subsidies that make it profitable to produce ethanol even when that ratio is below 90%.

5.25 billion bu. – Livestock feed
3.65 billion bu. – Ethanol production
1.85 billion bu. – Exports
943 million bu. – Production of Starch, Corn Oil, Sweeteners (HFCS,etc.)
327 million bu. – Human consumption – grits, corn flower, corn meal, beverage alcohol

See also Congressional Budget Office Paper [PDF] The Impact of Ethanol Use on Food Prices and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions