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Corn disaster: Rain coming, but not enough, according to AccuWeather

July 18, 2012

By Alex Sosnowski
Expert Senior Meteorologist, AccuWeather.com

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — AccuWeather.com reports additional corn crop failures are likely as a result of too little rain and too much heat through the middle of August.

Spotty downpours will grace northern and eastern areas of the corn belt into August, but not enough rain will fall on a large part of the Corn Belt, leading to a disaster.

AccuWeather.com agricultural meteorologists feel 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.

In these areas, a few tenths of an inch of rain will fall here and there in the weeks ahead with some areas barely getting a drop.

According to 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.”

In this southwestern and central swath of the Corn Belt, the combination of too much heat and too little rain moving forward into the middle of August will prove to be too much for corn to take. Essentially, most of these areas are beyond hope for a significant crop this year.

Within these states, there are areas that have been holding on because of sporadic rainfall in recent days or weeks. However, areas, such as in parts of Ohio, central Illinois and central Iowa, still need significant rain for any hopes of a decent harvest come autumn.

Some prime corn areas are in reasonable shape, such as in portions of eastern North Dakota, central and southeastern Minnesota, and central Wisconsin.

These areas, as well as irrigated tracts on the High Plains and Midwest, and in other less-thought-of farmland in the East will have to carry the load of high expectations of corn production originally set by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The northern and eastern areas will have less intense heat, less long-lasting heat and at least occasional episodes of rainfall, which should be enough to sustain the corn crop in general.

Rainfall in some corn-growing areas of the East has been sufficient with much of Pennsylvania, New York state and New Jersey in reasonably good shape. However, in pockets of these states and in large areas of the Delmarva, fields are being stressed.

AccuWeather.com agricultural meteorologists anticipate that overall production of the 2012 corn crop will be lower than yields forecast by the USDA during mid-July and could be near 138 bushels per acre.

This forecast is based on expectations of too little rain and too much heat over the central Plains to part of the Midwest, and barely enough rain in northern and eastern areas.

The lack of rain in the southwestern and central part of the Corn Belt, where a significant part of the crop remains, will continue to drive down yields, as a result of additional failures.

The end result will be higher prices for livestock feed such as beef cattle, hogs and chickens. The higher costs will be passed along.

Consumers, who are already struggling to afford their grocery bill, or the more fortunate, who are spending away on vacations, may find themselves in quite a pinch late this summer and fall as a result of climbing food prices.

Posted July 18, 2012

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