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June 1, 2011

Drought in Southeastern U.S. Impacting Crops

With all the talk about delayed planting and flooding, the increasing dry conditions in the Southeastern U.S. and along the Gulf Coast have gotten little press coverage. In last week's Crop Weather Report, officials in Georgia estimated that 82% of the state was short to very short on soil moisture. Louisiana was 86% short and South Carolina was 48% short. Over the past week there have been a few light showers in the region, but they favored mainly the northern regions while it's the southern regions of these states where it is the driest.

The corn crop in the region would be the first crop affected by the dry weather. If you look at the total corn acreage in Louisiana (520,000 acres), Mississippi (860,000 acres), Alabama (280,000 acres), Georgia (330,000 acres), and South Carolina (360,000 acres) it totals 2.35 million acres or 2.5% of the corn acreage in the U.S. Granted, this is not a big production area, but the market counts on some of the early corn harvested in the Southeast to bridge the gap between old-crop and new-crop corn.

Not every acre of corn in these states is suffering from drought and a lot of the corn in this region is also irrigated, but if the current dry conditions are not reversed, corn yield in this region will be disappointing. In some areas in the Southeast, farmers have actually stopped planting their crops while they wait for additional soil moisture.