The early warm weather has helped boost corn plantings off to a strong start, but early plantings are still tracking near the levels seen back in 2010, reports Steve Meyer and Len Steiner of the CME Group’s Daily Livestock Report.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported for the week ending April 15 that U.S. farmers had planted about 17% of the corn crop. That compares to 5% planted for the same period last year and 5% for the five-year average for 2007-2011.

Much of the advanced planting has occurred in the eastern Corn Belt. Illinois currently stands at 41% compared to just 8% a year ago and 6% for the five-year average. Indiana plantings are at 24%.

Big corn producing states such as Iowa are not far along with plantings currently pegged at just 5% compared to 1% last year and 3% for the five-year average.

The early start of field work and lack of any weather pressures are good news for livestock producers. The other good news is the solid progress in the wheat complex, which should bring more wheat into the feed complex later this summer.

For the week ending April 15, 29% of the winter wheat crop was heading, compared to 11% last year and 8% for the five-year average.

USDA will issue its first official forecast of the corn crop on May 10 to reflect early plantings, the expanded acres and a baseline yield, likely doubling ending stocks of 2011/2012.