But the damage has already been done. The next question is what about next year. First, the seed corn was a total wash this year so right now they are trying to grow enough in Brazil to even get us going next year. But then the next question is when to plant and where. If anybody was a good enough predictor to get in during or right after the late frost then your corn would be fine and you would be sitting on a gold mine. This is contingent on us getting some moisture over the winter. If we don’t get enough moisture well then next year looks bleak.
Rain comes too late for Iowa’s corn crop as drought weighs on midwest minds
Farmers hope for better next year after summer of record drought leads to rising prices and brings tensions to the surface
Dominic Rushe in Des Moines
Thursday 30 August 2012 10.44 EDT
Flying into Des Moines, the corn fields look surprisingly green. America’s midwest produces half the world’s corn and Iowa its largest harvest, yet amid the worst drought in living memory all the untrained eye can see is the occasional brown mark, like a cigarette burn on the baize of a pool table.
But appearances can be deceptive.
In Boone, Iowa, 30 miles away from the state capital, traffic backs up for miles bringing 200,000 people to Farm Progress, the US’s largest agricultural show one. Here, all the talk is of the drought.
Pam Johnson, first vice-president of the National Corn Growers Association, says she can’t remember one as bad as this in her 40 years of farming. “My parents say you have to go back to the 1930s for anything comparable,” she says. In June, her farm in northern Iowa got an inch and a half of rain. “We usually get that a week. In July we got seven-tenths of an inch, for the month.” Rain may be coming soon, thanks to hurricane Isaac, but it’s too late for America’s corn crop.
The US planted 97m acres of corn for this year’s crop – the most since 1937. If everything had gone according to plan, this year’s harvest would have produced a new record, at close to 15bn bushels of corn (a bushel is 24 million metric tonnes). It’s too early to say what the final tally will be, but the US department of agriculture has slashed its forecast to 10.8bn. Dan Basse, president of AgResources, an independent agriculture analyst, says that figure is likely to come down. “We’ve lost 4bn bushels of corn. That’s the largest loss in history, and we could lose another,” he says. The USDA has declared counties in 38 states to be “disaster areas”. About 72% of cattle areas are experiencing drought.
Go there and read. More tomorrow.