You've no doubt heard about all the rains and crop planting delays that Midwest farmers have been struggling with. And I've seen a lot of the damage during the last couple days of driving I-70 across Ohio and Indiana, I-74 across Illinois and across Iowa.
USDA was right in cutting back projected corn and soybean yields. Wet spots and standing water damage increased gradually as we drove westward from western Ohio. I've never seen so much erosion damage or so widespread ponding in soils typically tiled and well-drained.
Most corn that's emerged is still maybe four inches tall, not the normal 12-inches or more. Many corn fields were planted last week. Many fields, probably targeted for soybeans, were still being planted or still waiting for fields to dry enough.
Eastern Illinois which boasts some of the highest-priced farmland in Midwest still had relatively few soybeans up and growing. In western Illinois, many no-till corn fields were still waiting for the next crop to go into the ground.
We saw many signs on side roads saying: "Road closed due to high water." And guess what: More rain is in the forecast across Iowa.
If you were in their shoes . . .
Put yourself in the shoes of a farmer who has never really suffered a major crop loss. In the deep soils of the central Corn Belt, that's quite possible.
You've already priced 50% of your normal corn and soybean yields ahead for fall delivery. But your corn was planted two to three weeks late (if you were lucky) and half of your soybeans – as of this week – haven't yet been planted. The emotional pressure has to be intense – especially if you've never needed crop insurance and didn't sign up this year.
Unfortunately for the grain-deficit Northeast, this pressure is likely to come home as well. Odds against corn prices dropping below $5 a bushel at harvest are increasing. And that's not good news for the beef, dairy, pork or poultry producers.
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