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Business and Financial Meteorologists Fear Dry Heat in August Could Devastate Corn Harvest


BRADENTON -- Experts say additional corn crop failures are likely, due to too little rain and too much heat through the middle of August. Downpours are expected to hit northern and eastern areas of the corn belt into next month, but not enough rain is expected to fall on a large part of the corn belt, which would likely have disasterous results.

Yesterday, corn and livestock producers in Iowa warned Governor Terry Branstad that a tough road lies ahead. During a public forum hosted by the Governor, representatives of Iowa's pork, cattle, corn and soybeans industries expressed deep concern, and warned of the ripple effect that could grip markets as corn prices spiked. The state is facing its worst drought since 1988.

Meteorologists feel that a lack of rain will continue to take its toll on non-irrigated corn in much of Nebraska and Kansas, as well as huge sections of Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, southeastern South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, southwestern Michigan and southeastern Wisconsin, where a few tenths of an inch of rain will fall in spots in the weeks ahead, with some areas remaining almost completely dry.

According to Accuweather.com Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews, "The region has suffered and will continue to suffer from a lack of frequent thunderstorms. Warm-season rainfall is the primary source of soil moisture for the region."

While sporadic rainfall has been helping some areas of these states to hold on, they still need significant precipitation in coming weeks if they have any chance to produce a signigficant harvest this fall. Some prime corn areas remain in reasonable shape, including portions of eastern North Dakota, central and southeastern Minnesota and central Wisconsin. The Department of Agriculture is hoping that these areas along with irrigated tracts on the High Plains and Midwest, and in other less prolific farmland in the East will be able to produce enough corn to limit the scope of the shortfall.

The likely end result is sky-high corn prices that will impact everything from the cost of foods sweetened by corn-syrup to skyrocketing prices for meats that rely on cornfeed, such as beef cattle, hogs and chickens. Food inflation has already been stressing the American economy and such a scenario, especially if coupled with a spike in gas prices, could send shockwaves through the economy.


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