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Planting progress this spring to mirror air travel: delays expected

Article cover photo
Farmer may face a cold and soggy start to this year’s growing season, putting a damper on fieldwork and delaying planting intentions. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Aaron Putze, APR, ISA communications director


Midwest farmers that attended Commodity Classic earlier this month shouldn’t be fooled by the warm, sunny conditions that welcomed them to Orlando.

Meteorologist Bryce Anderson of DTN/Progressive Farmer warned of a cold and soggy start to this year’s growing season, putting a damper on fieldwork and delaying planting intentions.

“From Fargo to the Mississippi Delta and from Kearney, Nebraska to Pennsylvania – that’s the area we’re talking about where there’s already plenty of moisture,” Anderson said. “More is on the way, making spring fieldwork delays highly likely.”

Add it together, and 2019 could resemble 2008, Anderson warned. That’s when deep snow packs blanketing much of the upper Midwest combined with an abnormally wet spring to cause the worst flooding in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri in more than 40 years.

Snow cover is approaching a depth of two feet across the northern plains and as much as four feet or more in the headwaters of the Missouri River as well as the upper reaches of the Mississippi River valley. Anderson said that amount of snow combined with above-normal rainfall predicted throughout the Midwest into April places key soybean and corn-producing states in a moderate-to-major, long-term flood threat.”

A reoccurrence of the Polar Vortex, an atmospheric condition that last made headlines in early 2014, will ensure temperatures across much of the United States remain well below normal through March. The Polar Vortex is characterized by a weakening of sustained winds over high latitudes. This allows cold air in the North Pole to escape, implicating the Midwest and locations as far south as Texas and Florida.

“There are a lot of acreage stories that still need to be written,” he said. “With such a cold and wet pattern over such a large area, prevent-plant acres are likely, especially considering the additional spring fieldwork yet to be done due to last fall’s late harvest.”

Long-range weather models suggest a rather benign summer with slightly above-average precipitation and near-normal temperatures. This will create a seventh consecutive year of near-trend line soybean and corn yields throughout the Midwest.

Bryce Anderson of DTN/Progressive Farmer warns it could be a cold and soggy start to this year’s growing season. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

“It’s shaping up to be a decent growing season,” Anderson said. “That said, we do have to actually get things into the field.”

 Anderson also predicted:

  • The presence of a weak El Nino as water temperatures in the eastern Pacific gradually moderate through mid-summer. “That matters to U.S. soybean and corn farmers because yields are trendline when that happens, if not a little above.”
  • Another year featuring more significant precipitation events including numerous rainfalls greater than 1.5 inches each. Slow-moving waves of energy don’t allow other weather makers to make progress, keeping areas abnormally wet or dry for longer periods, Anderson explained. “It means heavier and more frequent downpours, which is why so many farmers have made additional investments in field drainage tile.”
  • A big soybean crop in Argentina. The weather has been nearly ideal since the first of the year, Anderson said. “That means a crop that could be 50 percent larger than 2018.”
  • Brazil’s crop conditions are turning for the better thanks to more normal rainfall totals in January and February. “Early in their growing season, there was a lot of talk about how dry it was in Brazil,” Anderson said. “But things turned around. Fleets of combines are rolling. The second corn crop is fairing a lot better than first feared and much better than a year-ago. It could be like two years ago when it was an extremely large crop.”
  • The market will largely shrug off predictions for a cool, wet start to the growing season for at least another month. “It may take the trade until the end of March to develop concerns about weather and its potential impact on planting,” Anderson said. “We can plant a lot of acres in a short amount of time so there’s plenty of time to recover if things stay wet and cold.
  • A continued upward trendline in global temperatures. “Last year was the fourth warmest in 139 years of records while 2014-18 were the warmest five years on record,” Anderson said.


Contact Aaron Putze at

For media inquiries, please contact Katie Johnson, ISA Public Relations Manager at or Aaron Putze, ISA Communications Director at

For permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos contact Aaron Putze at Iowa Soybean Association | 1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy | Ankeny | IA | 50023 | US

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