WASHINGTON, (UPI) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday corn planting is ahead of the historic average, with weather permitting an early start to field work.
The long-term average for corn planting for this week of the year is 2 percent — farmers just beginning to scratch at the planting season. This year, 7 percent of the acreage designated for corn has been planted, farmers report.
Texas is well ahead of the pack with 52 percent of the crop planted by Sunday. But the Lone Star State is slightly behind its five-year average, which is 54 percent for this week of the year.
Farmers in Illinois are far ahead of their five-year average with 17 percent of the corn fields planted compared with a long-term average of 1 percent. Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee are also far ahead of their historic marks for this time of the year.
Agriculture specialists warn that corn planted too early runs the risk of being damaged by a surprise frost late in the spring. This risk, of course, decreases week by week.
The Agriculture Department said 21 percent of the spring wheat crop had been planted, far ahead of the national average of 5 percent for this week of the year in the six largest spring wheat production states.
The winter wheat crop remains in better shape than a year earlier.
The USDA said 88 percent of wheat in the 18 largest winter wheat-producing states is in fair to excellent condition, while 12 percent is in very poor to poor condition — the same percentage as the previous week.
In 2011, only 64 percent of the winter wheat crop was judged in fair to excellent condition this early in the growing season.