Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Portraits of drought: Corn growers hit hardest

Judy Keen in USA Today: The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated last week that U.S. farmers will harvest 10.7 billion bushels of corn this year, the smallest crop in six years and down 13% from 2011. Forty-one percent of the Illinois corn crop is rated very poor, and 34% is in poor condition. Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and Indiana are the top-producing corn states.

Paul Bertels of the National Corn Growers Association says farmers are at a crucial moment. "They are going to start making planting decisions (for next year) when they step off the combine," he says, and they could face seed shortages.

Rain from Hurricane Irene last month "was about a month to six weeks late for us," Harvey says. The corn crop was already too far gone to be helped. But Irene's moisture and rain that has fallen since then did help the soybean crop, which hasn't been harvested here yet.

The rain revived the green in pastures, ditches and yards, Harvey says, but looks can be deceiving. "The scary thing with this drought is the implications are in the future," he says. Everyone hopes for a wet winter....

A cornfield near Penn Yann, New York, shot by Jlantzy (Jamie Lantzy), Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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