News last update:6 Aug 2012

Cool, wet spring dampens US corn crop

A cold, wet spring put crop planting weeks behind schedule across much of the US Corn Belt and drastically slowed growth where corn is already in the ground.

Depending on the right mix of sun, heat, rain and cool, the poor weather conditions could drive prices of corn up even further.

Farmers in parts of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana are replanting corn that either sat under water in flooded fields too long to germinate or cannot break through soaked, compacted soils.

And the cool, damp weather continues. Being a semi-tropical plant corn needs heat to grow.

Planting behind schedule
The US Department of Agriculture said 88% of the corn crop has been planted. Last year at this time, farmers were all but finished.

This year's figure doesn't account for farmers who have to replant - that number will not be known for possibly months.

The later corn is planted, the less it will yield. Corn planted in mid June in central Illinois, for instance, is likely to produce only about half what it would if planted in early May.

Late planting and USDA projections that farmers will plant less corn this year have supported corn prices, keeping them near record highs.

National Weather Service maps show wet, soggy soil stretches across the heart of the Corn Belt, from eastern Nebraska and Iowa through Ohio, where only two-thirds of the crop is in the ground.

Weather forecasts offer potentially bad news. Cooler, wetter weather than usual is expected for the next month in the Corn Belt.

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