Did You Feel That?!

Nor' east Thinkin'

About shaky ground and shriveled crop yields

Published on: August 24, 2011


Last night, I returned home after a two-day run down into Delaware and Eastern Shore Maryland. It was memorable for three reasons.

First, I visited with a lot of very good people – all in agriculture. Didn't meet a sole I didn't like and didn't have something in common with. And when you talk with people outside of agriculture, you get an idea of how unusual it is.

Second, as I pulled up next to the farm shop at Chesapeake Farms about 1 p.m., near Chestertown, Md., my SUV was rocking as if some strong-armed rascal had a grip on the back tire well and bumper. "No, that's unlikely," I thought.

"A stout breeze?" No, the trees were still.

"Oh, Oh. A broken motor mount?" came to mind. So I shut off the engine. "Nope. It's still rocking." Being within 100 miles of the epicenter of Tuesday's East Coast 5.9 earthquake gave us one more thing we all had in common.


Much bigger things still to shake

I can't recall ever seeing so much "poor crops" as I've seen this summer traveling the Northeast. As always, there are "garden spots". But the livestock and poultry industry in this region will have one of the toughest times it has ever had coming up with grain crops to meet feed demands.

Except for irrigated fields and sorghum stands, much of the corn on the DelMarva was decimated by heat during pollination and lack of rainfall. Even the soybeans, which can wait a bit for rain, were hammered by heat. Blossoms aborted, and pods-to-be shriveled. And this when grain prices are near record levels!

Several astute grain marketers I talked with have 100% of their 2011 corn and soybeans sold. Several have a good share of 2012 crops sold ahead. One bought 2012 crops with "calls". All of them – thankfully – had crop insurance on this year's "bust".

As reported in September's American Agriculturist issue, 2012 crop insurance will be a lot more expensive. But at these grain prices, you're not covering crop loss; you're really covering risk of major income loss.

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