Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Soggy Midwest Weather May Dampen Corn Crop

While dragging through a rough winter here in Iowa we were reminded of one thing -- that when spring and summer rolled around the weather would be back on our side. And even though the forecasters were pretty united in their call that Iowa and the Midwest would be in for unusually dry (drought) weather, neither seems to be coming true. This has been an exceptionally wet spring that has some Iowans talking about the last major flooding disaster to occur in the state back in 1993. On top of these dismal weather days, the rain couldn't have come at a worst time -- right when farmers are trying to get out into the fields to plant corn and soybeans that seem to be in ever increasing demand in a world full of food and biofuels. The problem is that wet weather not only prevents farmers from getting into fields for fear of getting their tractors bogged down, but capped mud can also prevent a germinating seed from being able to punch through the soil to get the sunlight needed to survive. Also, small plants only a few inches tall can not survive in standing water that might be up to a foot deep or more in some places.
The wet weather comes in a year when corn supplies may already be tight and the USDA estimates that farmers will plant more soybeans and less corn this year. The bottom line is that the more days that farmers are prevented from getting the crop started, the lower the potential yields become. Even though perennial crop investor and adviser service DTN has tried to dampen concern by saying that much of the news has already been priced into the cost of nearly $6.00 per bushel corn, it looks as though things might only get worse before getting better. With more wet weather in the 7 day forecast for central Iowa, it could be tough to match the corn output that was seen last year in a particularly tight season.
Hopefully we can get a more balanced weather pattern in the next week or two.