WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported on May 23 that 79% of the nation’s 2011 corn crop has been planted, as growers are working hard to catch up. The percentage of acres planted now falls just 8 percentage points below the five-year average.

In some of the major corn states, such as Iowa, Illinois, Kansas and Missouri, planting has surpassed the five-year average mark, and growers in Iowa are virtually finished planting their prospective 13.9 million acres.

“Most of the corn has been planted and is starting to emerge,” Dick Gallagher, a grower in Washington County, Iowa, said last week. “It’s coming up a bit yellow due to the cold, but I’m optimistic that it will improve. A little over half of the bean crop is also in the ground as of today and planting is still going strong.”

Click here for a summary of acres planted.

Favorable summer weather can ease concerns about yields come harvest time, according to Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension corn specialist and scientist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, in a story published on May 23 about the impact of late planting on corn yields.

“Weather conditions, both rainfall and temperatures, in July and August are probably the most important factors in determining yields,” Thomison said. “In 2009, we had very favorable conditions after the late start, and we came through just fine.”

Growers in Ohio and North Dakota are still facing a planting season much slower than normal. Ohio has been especially hard-hit, with only 11% of its crop planted as of Sunday, compared to an average of 80% at this time.