Farmers in the US continue to plant their crops and more progress is being made in some areas than others.

Weather is playing a big role in markets at present, so it's important to keep an eye on what’s happening in other countries.

Recent rain had stopped work in the fields and when the Irish Farmers Journal visited last week, it was clear that progress was varied across the country.

It was also great to see the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) crop progress report figures come to life.

We drove through Illinois and to the top of Missouri and through Michigan.

In Illinois, progress was rapid. While many were planting, there were huge amounts of fields sown, crops emerged and many were even growing significantly, with corn crops up to heights of 6in to 8in where they were sown about a month ago.

There were delays with rain interrupting progress and evidence of that rain was clear in fields, with wet patches and farmers moving into those wetter fields.

Wheat headed out

Wheat was headed out in fields and is due for harvest in June. Oilseed rape will be cut approximately 10 days before wheat, but the main crops were corn and soybeans.

As we moved further north, there were a lot more fields left to plant. Land was wetter, but we were in different territory.

Michigan is mixed farming country, with lots of dairy farms and a lot of the corn being grown here is likely for maize silage. There is some for grain as well, but a smaller amount.

Moving to Kentucky and it was different terrain. Heavy rain had fallen last Thursday and when the Irish Farmers Journal visited on Friday, the high clay content soils were visibly losing soil to the Ohio River.

Land had not been planted for most, so there were no roots to hold that soil in place. Corn stalks from last year’s crops flowed on to the road in some places.

More variation

However, this state and Indiana had more variation along the roads, with wheat and rye being grown. There was even a melon farm, with rows of rye to hold clay in place. The melons were under plastic.

In Indiana, some farmers had planted early and those crops were well ahead of most that had been seen before at 3ft to 4ft tall.

Other crops were up to 8in or 12in, but then large areas of ground were wet and were not planted. Some soybeans were up and some very advanced, but many had yet to be planted.

Irish native and Kentucky farmer Claire Caldbeck said that many fields in Kentucky will not be planted until June.

USDA crop progress figures

Last week, the USDA said 70% of corn was estimated to be planted and 40% emerged.

As we visited, a lot of corn had emerged and this is expected to show in the new figures to be released on Tuesday 28 May.

As of Monday 20 May, 52% of soybeans were estimated to be planted and 26% emerged. This week's figures should be further on from what we saw in the states we visited.

Below were the percentages of corn planted in the states visited by the Irish Farmers Journal as of 19 May.

We would expect Illinois and Missouri to be much higher this week.

  • Illinois – 67%.
  • Indiana – 54%.
  • Kentucky – 65%.
  • Michigan – 50%.
  • Missouri – 76%.