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May 11, 2011

Extent of Flooded Acres along Mississippi Still Unknown

These acreage estimates are a moving target and subject to change given the nature of this spring's weather. The big unknown is how many acres will be flooded out by the various swollen rivers in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. We already know about lost acreage in Missouri due to the breaching of the levees along the Mississippi, but additional flooding is going to occur as the river crest makes its way downstream. The Weekly Crop Report from Missouri estimates that 600,000 acres in 10 southeastern counties have been flooded.

Of particular concern is the Delta region of the Bootheel of Missouri, northwestern Mississippi, eastern Arkansas, and northeastern Louisiana. The levees along the Mississippi are expected to withstand the water pressure, but the water is going to back up into the tributaries causing flooding inland from the Mississippi River. The Army Corps of Engineers is also expected to divert some of the water into the adjacent floodplain to relieve pressure on levees protecting cities, thus flooding more farmland. The crest is expected to reach Vicksburg, Mississippi on May 20-22 and the Department of Agriculture in Mississippi announced that they expect 500,000 acres to be flooded in their state alone. It probably won't be as bad in Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee but some areas of those three states will be flooded as well. There are 63 counties and parishes that border the Mississippi and Atachafalaya Rivers between Cairo, Illinois and the Gulf of Mexico.

At this point, it is impossible to say just how much will be flooded and if those areas will dry out in time to replant. The flooding will impact the corn and cotton crops probably more than the soybean crops because when the flood waters recede, it will probably be too late to replant the corn and cotton crops, but there still might be time to plant soybeans. With this historic flood moving downstream, if anything, there may be more acres lost to the flooding than we are currently estimating. Therefore, it is possible that the planted acreage in the U.S. in 2011 could be significantly lower than what was reported in the March Planting Intensions Report.