Midwest Farming Woes as Heavy Rainfall Delays Corn Planting

May 14, 2008; 10:14 AM
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Many Areas One to Two Weeks Behind Schedule

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - May 14, 2008 - The AccuWeather.com Agricultural Forecast Center reports that while weather should improve in the next two weeks, it will not be enough to make up for planting delays already endured by the nation's corn farmers. A late planting increases the risk of vulnerability of the crop to midsummer heat during pollination and fall frost during harvest.

As the cost of crude oil rises and ethanol made from corn is increasingly used to augment gasoline, demand for this year's corn crop is at high levels. Dow Jones reports that this will also reduce grain and feed stores for livestock. The current lag in corn planting, resulted from a pattern of widespread storms at the onset of the planting season that hindered the normal planting schedule, is therefore of concern to a variety of economic interests.

"It's been a wet spring," according to Dale Mohler, AccuWeather.com agriculture Expert Senior Meteorologist. "It is impossible to catch up now, just to minimize losses." He reports that the issue with planting this year has not been the volume of rain so much as the frequency. In the heart of the Corn Belt in Springfield, Ill., the longest stretch of dry weather since April 10 was only four days. "These short instances of two to three days are not enough for the fields to dry out," Mohler said.

The areas hardest hit by recent widespread storms include a stretch from Missouri northward into Wisconsin and eastward into Indiana and Ohio. Planting of crops is nearly one to two weeks behind schedule in these areas. In the coming weeks, Mohler predicts that the frequency of storms in major corn-growing areas will remain the same, but the amount of precipitation will be less. "The silver lining to the rain clouds is that the crop should be off to a good start because of all the moisture," he said.

Mohler also cautions that weather this summer will be critical. Adverse weather conditions could dramatically affect already high prices, as demand is tight. He added that the next few weeks should bring better weather, with less rain and more sun.

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