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Midwest farming woes as heavy rainfall delays corn planting

Allthough weather should improve in the next two weeks, it will not make up for planting delays endured by US corn farmers. Late planting will increase the risk of vulnerability of the crop to midsummer heat and fall frost.


May 16, 2008
By AccuWeather Inc.

May 15, 2008

STATE
COLLEGE, Pa. – 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 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.