Floods sure to strain crops, keep prices high
This year's corn crop is already flooded with concerns about the economic impact of heavy rains and the floods that have hit parts of the Midwest.
"The floods in the Midwest are adding yet another layer of worry for millions of Americans already trying to cope with record high oil and gasoline prices," said Bob Dineen, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Renewable Fuels Association.
"While it's too early to fully assess the impact of the flooding, it is clear that this unprecedented event will likely cause already high grain prices to remain elevated, further putting strain on industries that rely on corn and other crops," he said.
Floods that hit Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Indiana followed a spring planting season that was already lagging well behind past years. "The flood has taken another chunk out of the corn and soybean crops but how big a chunk remains to be seen," said Dale Mohler, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.com, a weather forecasting firm in State College, Pa.
The situation is the latest blow after a wet spring delayed the planting of corn and soybean crops that could suffer losses of 5 to 10 percent this year, he said.
But Darrel Good, a University of Illinois marketing specialist, said a "respectable" crop could still be achieved "with favorable weather conditions through September."
Good said there are also indications that demand for corn as animal feed might be on the decline. In May, the number of cattle placed into feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or more was 12 percent smaller than placements during May 2007, he said.
"There also has been discussion that the last leg up in corn prices will result in renewed liquidation in the hog sector," said Good.
With southern Illinois the hardest hit area of the state this year, the state's farmers encountered some difficult growing conditions, said Mark Lambert, spokesman for the Bloomington-based Illinois Corn Growers Association.
"Despite planting a corn crop as many as three times this year, some southern Illinois farmers will not get a corn crop this year," he said.
Field conditions are definitely an issue statewide, said Lambert. Even areas that weren't flooded have suffered with standing water in many fields, he said.
With Illinois exporting more corn and soybeans than any other state in the country, extended delays in the transportation of grain "will have an impact," he said.
Unlike flooding that occurred in the Midwest in 1993 when all the region's rivers were affected, the Illinois River hasn't experienced the problems - collapsing levees and extensive flood damage - suffered on the Mississippi River, said Lambert.
Steve Tarter can be reached at (309) 686-3260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.