July 19, 2012

U.S. Crops Continue to Suffer Under Hot and Dry Conditions

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The unrelenting heat and dryness continue to take a toll on the corn and soybean crops in the U.S. Only 31% of the U.S. corn crop is rated as good to very good. For the U.S. soybean crop, 34% is rated as good to very good. The driest conditions are generally found in Indiana, Missouri, Illinois, and Michigan and the best soil moisture is found in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Minnesota.

Much of the corn crop has pollinated under very adverse conditions and even if the crop pollinated successfully, continued dryness would result in kernel abortion and additional abandonment. The corn crop in the Midwest is highly variable depending on: planting date, rainfall, temperatures, and soil type. The earliest planted corn is generally the best and the latest planted corn is generally the worst. In addition to extremely dry conditions, there is an excessive amount of foliar diseases afflicting the corn crop as well. The best rated corn crops are found in Minnesota, North Dakota, Texas, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

If the weather would retune to more normal levels in the weeks ahead, the corn crop could hold its own and future losses would be limited, but the losses already experienced are irreversible.

The soybean crop in the U.S. is holding its own as it waits for additional moisture. Most of the soybeans are shorter than normal and growing slower than normal. The problem for the soybean crop is that it has only 4-6 weeks left in the growing season. Normally, the soybean crop starts to mature by late August or early September, but this year the crop is 7-10 days ahead in its development and in some of the most severely stressed areas, the soybeans may start to mature by the third week of August. If additional moisture is not received soon, there will be little time left for the crop to put on the additional growth needed to keep the yields from falling even further. The best rated soybeans are found in Mississippi, Minnesota, North Dakota, Louisiana, and North Carolina.

Their is one small bright spot for the soybean crop and that is in the Delta (Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana) where recent rainfall has stabilized the soybean crop. Unfortunately, this region only accounts for 8-10% of the soybean acreage in the U.S.

Up until several weeks ago, the crops in the western Corn Belt had been developing more or less normally, but dry weather in the western Corn Belt is now starting to compromise the crops in that region as well. Nearly the entire state of Iowa for example is rated at over 90% short to very short on soil moisture and there is little subsoil moisture for the crops to tap into. As a result, the conditions of the crops in the western Corn Belt have been falling precipitously in recent weeks.

The final outcome for the U.S. crops is still unknown, but if the weather doesn'Ct improve quickly, 2012 will go down as the worst droughts in the last 25 years.