In the past week, corn growers nationwide hit their fields in earnest and planted more than a quarter of their 2011 crop, finally enjoying a break from cold, wet weather.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that, as of May 8, 40 percent of the 2011 corn crop has been planted, compared to 13 percent May 1.

“It’s great to see our farmers get the chance to get out and plant,” said NCGA First Vice-President Garry Niemeyer, a grower in Auburn, Ill., who reports that he is virtually finished with his corn planting. “We have several key corn states where our growers were able to take advantage of good weather to start catching up. It’s amazing to see how much they were able to accomplish in one week, something that would have been unheard of not too many years ago.”

The prime example, Niemeyer said, was Iowa, where 61 percent of the corn crop was planted last week, followed by Nebraska, where 42 percent of the crop was put in the ground. In addition, good progress was made in Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas. Planting delays continued in the northeast Corn Belt states of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, as well as North Dakota.

(To see just how fast Iowa growers can plant a corn crop, see http://southeastfarmpress.com/grains/midwest-growers-concerned-delayed-corn-planting).

The USDA is set to release its first monthly estimate of yield, supply and demand for the crop now being planted, and Niemeyer said that planting dates alone do not determine how successful a crop growers have.

“There are still several months of growing time for our crops,” Niemeyer said. “The expected increase in corn acreage strengthens our expectation of being able to meet all needs for food, feed and fuel come the fall harvest.”

Click here for the weekly USDA Crop Progress report.