The Rain Keeps Coming: No End in Sight This Week

June 8, 2008

indiana-flooded-field.JPGThis spring is definitely a classic case of Rain Doesn’t Always Make Grain.
    Powerful storms pummeled the U.S. heartland over the weekend — an area that’s already soaked after a week of heavy rains — increasing the likelihood that this year’s corn and soybeans will not reach their maximum yield potential.
    “There are Noah’s Ark-like conditions in the Midwest through next week,” said Vic Lespinasse, analyst for
    All week the western belt was the hardest hit. Day after day there were reports that areas received a couple inches of rain. Young corn and soybean seedlings were standing in flooded fields, not only limiting the development of their root systems but actually suffocating plants.
    Then this weekend violent storms ripped through the Midwest again, spawning tornadoes in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana on Friday and Saturday.
    In Indiana, for instance, travelers saw miles and miles of corn fields with plants 4-5 inches of growth standing in water that resembled Vietnam rice paddies NOT Midwestern row-crops.
    This is especially worrisome this year as farmers hoped for ideal growing conditions given the huge world demand for grains and oilseeds for food and feedstocks to produce biofuels.
    All the rain means many corn and soybean fields will need to be replanted and heightens the possibility of fungal diseases in the maturing Midwest soft red winter wheat crop.
    Already, many U.S. grain analysts are expecting the U.S. Agriculture Department, in a rare move, to shave its production estimates in Tuesday’s monthly crop report. Typically, USDA does not make any adjustments to yields or acreage this early in the season, but many analysts feel there’s reason to do it this spring.
    The closest comparison to this season’s weather is 1993, meteorologist Mike Palmerino with DTN Meteorlogix said this week.
    That summer U.S. crops suffered from weeks and weeks of rain which eventually caused the Mississippi River to flood — washing out surrounding corn and soybean fields in the heart of the crop belt.
    “What’s different this year is the rain has started earlier than in ’93,” Palmerino said.
    So, a combination of record high crude oil prices and the current unfriendly weather for crops does not spell a return to cheap food any time soon, analysts say.

Photo: Washed out corn field near Goodland, Indiana, about 100 miles southeast of Chicago, following torrential storms and high winds that hit the area on June 7.  Photo taken by Julia Bohan on June 8.


…and only yesterday I was reading that people who talk of climate change are delusional. The term “global warming misled a lot of people into thinking we would all bask in a sub tropical climate but those of us who were environmentalists thirty years ago knew the increases in mean temerature, though barely perceptible to humans would massively disrupt weather systems leading to greater extremes and unseasonal weather that would affect harvests.

And on top of that we have an oil crisis. Well nobody could have seen that coming could they? Erm….


To Ian:

Anyone who closely follows the grain markets know that there are weather problems every year and that weather related events also come in cycles due to weather patterns. I wouldn’t be so quick to say that all this rain is caused by ‘global climate change’. Did that global climate change cause last year’s great weather? Or the summer dryness the year before, or the winter drought the year before that? all these things happen.

The problem we currently are facing is demand. Demand for food has increased substantially, despite huge increases in the amount of acreage planted by the US. The rest of the world needs to invest in better farming technology and GMO crops, and we could double the amount of food grown.

Posted by tom | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see