According to the latest USDA report, more than 50% of soybean acreage has been already planted in the major producing states in the US, ranging from 49% in Missouri to 95% in Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska, including 62% in Kansas (Figure 1, left). Soybeans emerged area follows a similar trend, ranging from 30% in Missouri to 76% in Iowa, with 46% in Kansas (Figure 1, right).
Figure 1. Percent of soybean planted (left) and emerged (right) areas for selected US Midwest states reported on the USDA Crop Progress Report released on June 1st 2020. Maps created by Leonardo Bastos, K-State Research and Extension.
The progress of soybeans planted area for 2020 has exceeded the five-year average for Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, and Nebraska (Figure 2). The current season progress is largely ahead from 2019 season, when planting was delayed due to wet spring conditions in the Midwest states. Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska are already reaching the end of their planting operations, with Kansas, Illinois, and Indiana likely catching up in the week to follow depending on weather conditions.
Figure 2. Progress of percent soybeans planted area for selected US Midwest states reported on the USDA Crop Progress Report released on June 1st 2020, including current week, five-year average, and same-week one year ago. Graphs created by Leonardo Bastos, K-State Research and Extension.
Weather during the spring is one of the main reasons for the 2020 planting season to be ahead of both the five-year average and last year. This situation is reflected on the number of days suitable for fieldwork in a week, which has been generally 4 days or greater since planting started in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, and Nebraska (Figure 3). In Kansas, farmers have had between 4 and 6 days per week when fieldwork was possible since mid-April. The current number of days suitable for fieldwork is considerably greater compared to 2019, when most farmers had very small windows of planting each week.
Figure 3. Number of days suitable for fieldwork for selected US Midwest states reported on the USDA Crop Progress Report released on June 1st 2020, including current week, and same-week one year ago. Graphs created by Leonardo Bastos, K-State Research and Extension.
Another reflection of good planting weather is the topsoil moisture condition during the planting season (Figure 4). Since mid-April, most of the soybean cropland area has been under adequate topsoil moisture condition in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, and Nebraska (Figure 4). In the latest report, adequate topsoil moisture ranged from 64% of the cropland area in Kansas to 82% of the area in Nebraska. Cropland area with surplus topsoil moisture conditions has been limited in Kansas and Nebraska since mid-April, while 27% of the cropland area was under surplus moisture condition in Illinois and Indiana this past week.
Figure 4. Topsoil moisture condition class and extent (percent, %, of cropland area) for selected US Midwest states reported on the USDA Crop Progress Report released on June 1st 2020. Graphs created by Leonardo Bastos, K-State Research and Extension.
Weather conditions in the following weeks will determine how quickly farmers will be able to finish planting operations. According to the 6-10 day weather outlook from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/), most of the Midwest states will have 32-50% chance of above-normal precipitation and 57-79% chance of above-normal temperatures. In Kansas, the chance of above-normal precipitation ranges from 21% in southwest Kansas to 33% for northeast Kansas. The chance of above-normal temperature ranges from 64% in northwest Kansas to 79% in northeast Kansas. This next week will be key for making progress on finishing most of the full-season soybean planting, but the double crop soybean acreage will not be defined until harvest of the winter crop. In most situations winter wheat is finalized across the state, with precipitation playing a key role for improving water status in soils and success of the establishment of the double crop. For more information on current temperature and soil moisture in Kansas, check our Mesonet: https://mesonet.k-state.edu.
The 2020 planting season for soybeans has moved passed half the acreage and is ahead of both the five-year average and the 2019 season due to favorable weather conditions in many Midwest states. Since lower chances of above-normal precipitation are expected for many states reaching the end of planting season in the next following weeks, timing for finishing planting and/or replanting acreage will be key for the success of the crop. Lastly, considering the greater chances of above-normal temperatures in the coming weeks, crop emergence and overall growth/progress will be able to pick up.
Leonardo Bastos, Post-doctoral researcher, Dr. Ciampitti’s Lab
Ignacio Ciampitti, Crop Production and Cropping Systems Specialist