Crop Catastrophe Shaping Up in Midwest?

May 19, 2019

Video report above is several weeks old, but conditions have not improved in the soggy midwest, and this week’s forecast is for much, much more rain in already waterlogged areas

CNN – May 18:

More than 70 million Americans are under the threat of severe weather from Texas to southern Minnesota, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said. That total on Sunday jumps to 80 million under threat as storms are predicted to move into the Great Lakes area.

CNBC – May 15:

U.S. corn futures hit a six-week high on Wednesday on forecasts for worrisome rains in the Midwest crop belt that could signal further planting delays, analysts said.

U.S. farmers seeded 30% of the U.S. 2019 corn crop by Sunday, the government said, lagging the five-year average of 66%. The soybean crop was 9% planted, behind the five-year average of 29%. 

Seeking Alpha:

2019 is turning out to be a nightmare that never ends for the agriculture industry.
Many farmers are extremely eager to plant crops, but the wet conditions have made it impossible.
Thanks to the trade war, soybean exports have plummeted dramatically, and the price of soybeans is the lowest that it has been in a decade.
We have never had a year quite like this before, and U.S. food production is going to be substantially below expectations.
2019 is turning out to be a nightmare that never ends for the agriculture industry. Thanks to endless rain and unprecedented flooding, fields all over the middle part of the country are absolutely soaked right now, and this has prevented many farmers from getting their crops in the ground. I knew that this was a problem, but when I heard that only 30 percent of U.S. corn fields had been planted as of Sunday, I had a really hard time believing it. But it turns out that number is 100 percent accurate. And at this point corn farmers are up against a wall because crop insurance final planting dates have either already passed or are coming up very quickly. In addition, for every day after May 15th that corn is not in the ground, farmers lose approximately 2 percent of their yield. Unfortunately, more rain is on the way, and it looks like thousands of corn farmers will not be able to plant corn at all this year. It is no exaggeration to say that what we are facing is a true national catastrophe.
According to the Department of Agriculture, over the past five years an average of 66 percent of all corn fields were already planted by now…
U.S. farmers seeded 30% of the U.S. 2019 corn crop by Sunday, the government said, lagging the five-year average of 66%. The soybean crop was 9% planted, behind the five-year average of 29%.
Soybean farmers have more time to recover, but they are facing a unique problem of their own which we will talk about later in the article.
But first, let’s take a look at the corn planting numbers from some of our most important corn producing states. I think that you will agree that these numbers are almost too crazy to believe…

Iowa: 48 percent planted – 5-year average 76 percent
Minnesota: 21 percent planted – 5-year average 65 percent
North Dakota: 11 percent planted – 5-year average 43 percent
South Dakota: 4 percent planted – 5-year average 54 percent

Yes, you read those numbers correctly.
Can you imagine what this is going to do to food prices?
Many farmers are extremely eager to plant crops, but the wet conditions have made it impossible. The following comes from ABC 7 Chicago

McNeill grows corn and soybeans on more than 500 acres in Grayslake. But much of his farmland is underwater right now, and all of it is too wet to plant. Rain is a farmer’s friend in the summer but in the spring too much rain keeps farmers from planting.
The unusually wet spring has affected farmers throughout the Midwest, but Illinois has been especially hard hit. Experts say with the soil so wet, heavy and cold, it takes the air out and washes nutrients away, making it difficult if not impossible for seeds to take root.
Right now, soil moisture levels in the state of Illinois “are in the 90th to 99th percentile statewide”. In other words, the entire state is completely and utterly drenched.
As a result, very few Illinois farmers have been able to get corn or soybeans in the ground at this point
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s crop progress reports, about 11% of Illinois corn has been planted and about 4% of soybeans. Last year at this time, 88% of corn and 56% of soybeans were in the ground.
I would use the word “catastrophe” to describe what Illinois farmers are facing, but the truth is that what they are going through is far beyond that.
Normally, if corn farmers have a problem getting corn in the ground then they just switch to soybeans instead. But thanks to the trade war, soybean exports have plummeted dramatically, and the price of soybeans is the lowest that it has been in a decade.
As a result there is very little profit, if any, in growing soybeans this year
Farmers in many parts of the corn belt have suffered from a wet and cooler spring, which has prevented them from planting corn. Typically when it becomes too late to plant corn, farmers will instead plant soybeans, which can grow later into the fall before harvest is required. Yet now, planting soybeans with the overabundance already in bins and scant hope for sales to one of the biggest buyers in China, could raise the risk of a financial disaster.

And if the wet conditions persist, many soybean farms are not going to be able to plant crops at all this year.
Sadly, global weather patterns are continuing to go haywire, and much more rain is coming to the middle of the country starting on Friday

Any hopes of getting corn and soybean planting back on track in the U.S. may be washed away starting Friday as a pair of storms threaten to deliver a “one-two punch” of soaking rain and tornadoes across the Great Plains and Midwest through next week.
As much as 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 centimeters) of rain will soak soils from South Dakota and Minnesota south to Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
We have never had a year quite like this before, and U.S. food production is going to be substantially below expectations. I very much encourage everyone to get prepared for much higher food prices and a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the months ahead.
Even though I have been regularly documenting the nightmarish agricultural conditions in the middle of the country, the numbers in this article are much worse than I thought they would be at this point in 2019.
This is truly a major national crisis, and it is just getting started.
Editor’s Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.

UPDATE: Accuweather weighs in, points out that a lower yield of corn could mean higher prices, and for some farmers, at least, more profits. May it be so.
But with bankruptcies at near record levels, and a several ag markets pummeled by Trumpian taxes..err..excuse me – tariffs – many farmers are on life support already.

Remains to be seen how weather cooperates the rest of the summer, especially as we move into the dry season.


The persistent wet weather in the Midwest has led to delays in corn planting for many farmers in the Corn Belt, potentially causing a decrease in the corn yield this year.
Midwestern farmers plant two main crops: corn and soybeans. Their current concerns, however, lie with planting corn first and on time, as it has a longer growing season. 
The key date to plant corn by to avoid smaller crops is May 20. Normally, 80% of corn is planted by this date.
On May 13 of this year, only 30% of U.S. corn crop was planted, according to figures released by the latest Crop Progress report by the Department of Agriculture (USDA). This amounts to a little less than half of the normal 66% typically planted by that date.
AccuWeather is estimating that only 45% will be planted Monday, May 20, when the USDA issues the next edition of its crop progress report.
If farmers are unable to plant corn in time, they are forced to use a shorter-season variety of the crop, which typically produces fewer kernels overall.
Although there is a possibility of a yield loss of about 4-6% of the corn, impacts to consumers will likely be minimal. Shortfalls would need to be in the 10-20% range for it to notably impact customers. However, cattle ranchers might have to spend more this year to feed their livestock.

This is becoming an increasing nuisance for corn farmers. A reduction in the overall corn yield will likely drive prices little higher, but farmers could see a slight increase in profits as a result.
The 2018 corn crop yielded 14.3 billion bushels and USDA officials, in a report released this winter, expected the corn industry to far exceed last year’s output and produce 15 billion bushels this year — a prospect that looks to be increasingly unlikely at this point. AccuWeather meteorologists estimate the 2019 corn crop will yield between 14.1 to 14.4 billion bushels. 
As previously reported in an earlier AccuWeather analysis, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and South Dakota are all significantly behind schedule, according to AccuWeather meteorologists who have analyzed the data, and they aren’t expected to catch up.
Illinois had only planted 11% of its corn by May 13 compared to 88% on May 13, 2018, according to data from the latest Crop Progress issued by the (USDA).
Illinois produces the second-highest amount of corn in the nation behind Iowa.


5 Responses to “Crop Catastrophe Shaping Up in Midwest?”

  1. Terry Donte Says:

    What is the average corn planting over the last 30 years say by this date? No information given. I am pretty sure it is available. The story says no effect on consumers from slightly lower yields so all the hype is just that hype.

    We do have actual problems, why not talk about them and how they might be fixed?

    • ubrew12 Says:

      the five-year average is 66%. “The story says no effect on consumers” Farmers with no money tend to buy less stuff from the rest of us. Sheesh.
      “We do have actual problems, why not talk about them and how they might be fixed?” Like, for example, the problem with your reading comprehension?

  2. Terry Donte Says: is pretty interesting. It has a nice graft of planting times from 1960 to 2011, The planting date for 50 percent planted was going down on average every year getting closer and closer to May 1st. In 1960 it was the end of the month of May by 2011 at the end of April. Apparently the farmers have been blessed with climate change for decades up until this year.

    • redskylite Says:

      “Nice Graft” – What you perceive as a “blessing” is very short term snapshot in terms of mankind’s agricultural pursuits – the climate has changed and continues to change amplified as we empty more and more fossil fuel waste into our thin and vulnerable atmosphere.

      What will the graft look like in 10-20-30 years, what do you think “Tipping Points to the Earths Climate Systems” and dangerous climate change means?

      Why do you think national and local governments are declaring “Climate Emergencies” ?

      Why do you think that school children are up in arms internationally ?

      I guess you think it’a all leftest nonsense as you tinker with U-O-C’s modtran program.

      Don’t bother reading this it is all fiction put out by foreigners and leftists.’

      OR IS IT ?

      “U.S. farmers have already been grappling with the uncertainty that has become the new normal when it comes to weather.

      That may mean planting as early in the year as possible in order to harvest before the heat waves of midsummer and the torrential downpours of the fall. A nationwide drought in 2012 that affected more than two-thirds of U.S. counties led the federal crop insurance program to make $14.5 billion in payments to farmers.”

      “It really is a great threat,” says Montana farmer Nate Powell-Palm.

    • rsmurf Says:

      Its very convenient of you to not understand how things work, yet instantly become an expert, and when asked to provide your accumulation of data….. crickets!

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