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Factors 'out of their control' create woes for US Corn Belt farmers

By John Roach, AccuWeather staff writer
August 06, 2019, 11:53:51 AM EDT

August corn crop farm

The USDA will release its latest crop production report Aug. 12, which could offer revealing numbers about U.S. corn acreage. (John Roach/AccuWeather)


It’s not easy being a farmer, and right now, even more so. “There are two things that are really impacting the farmer – weather and the tariff situation – and they’re both out of their control,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Jason Nicholls.

Weather played a role in the results of the latest data released Monday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Dry weather in several key areas of the Midwest pushed corn conditions lower than the previous week.

“The weather hasn’t been too volatile, so there hasn’t been too much change in the condition of crops over the last couple weeks with one exception,” Nicholls said. “There has been a dry pocket that is growing and extends from central Iowa and eastward into northern Indiana. It’s a relatively small area, but at the same time, it’s a really important area. There are high percentages of corn and soybeans in this area.”

Overall, the condition of corn and soybeans considered “good” or “excellent” remained 60% or lower for the eighth straight week. Good-or-excellent rated corn was at 57% -- down 1% from the previous week – and soybeans were at 54%, the same as the week before.

Last year at this time, good-or-excellent rated corn was at 71% and soybeans were 67%.

Illinois, Kansas and Nebraska each dropped at least 3% points from the prior week. Ohio and Missouri remain the states with the lowest percentage of good-or-excellent corn at 34%.

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Monday also saw the announcement by China that it would suspend imports of U.S. agricultural products in response to President Donald Trump’s proposal last week to add 10% tariffs on another $300 billion in Chinese imports.

“China’s announcement that it will not buy any agricultural products from the United States is a body blow to thousands of farmers and ranchers who are already struggling to get by,” noted American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall in a press release.

“In the last 18 months alone, farm and ranch families have dealt with plunging commodity prices, awful weather and tariffs higher than we have seen in decades,” Duvall added.

There is at least some good news about the weather for Corn Belt farmers.

“We think there’s going to be a little improvement,” Nicholls said. “Minor changes, not big changes. We’re just going into a pattern where the rainfall might be more consistent, providing a little better coverage on these events so that a bigger percentage of the Midwest could get an inch of rain.”

“What we need,” Nicholls said, “is a widespread inch or two of rain and that would really go a long way toward helping these crops.”

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