The dismal weather is another blow to farmers and agricultural companies during a prolonged slump in the U.S. farm economy. Six straight years of bumper crops have swelled grain supplies and pushed down prices for farmers, while protracted trade disputes have slowed crop exports, further pressuring farm income and agribusiness profits.
Nationwide, farmers have planted 49% of their intended corn acres, far below the 80% average for this time of year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Just 19% of soybean acres have been planted, compared with the 47% average. This year’s corn planting is the slowest since record-keeping began in 1980, according to agricultural economists at the University of Illinois.
The prospect of weather-diminished crops lifted corn futures prices 6.8% in the past week, while wheat futures climbed 5.2%. Soybean futures prices fell 0.7% on the potential for farmers to shift more acres to the oilseed.
Deere & Co., the world’s largest manufacturer of tractors and harvesting combines, said last week that the delayed spring planting season is adding to farmers’ caution on making major purchases. The equipment maker reduced its 2019 profit and sales forecasts to reflect sagging demand for its tractors and planters.