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Corn, soybean conditions slip on Midwest flood damage

Agriculture.com Staff 06/16/2008 @ 2:38pm

Whether submerged under soil and water, poked through and drowning, or still in the bag, the numbers show that wherever corn and soybean seed is this week, it's continuing to slide down the quality scale.

Monday's weekly USDA Crop Progress report shows 57% of the country's corn crop in good to excellent condition compared to the previous average of 70%. Similarly, 56% of the soybean crop is in good to excellent shape versus the 65% previous average.

They're tough numbers, and with good reason. Parts of the Midwest remain under water, while others are starting to take stock as flood waters recede. One example of the prior: In Lawrence County, Illinois, in the central part of the state, levee breaks on the Embarras and Wabash rivers had around 50,000 acres of flood plain covered in water, some well over 10 feet deep. The same is true in northern and eastern parts of Iowa.

"What planting is done now will likely result in much below trend yields. All of this will lead to a lower than previously expected crop for both corn and beans," says Grainanalyst.com market analyst and floor trader Vic Lespinasse. "Of course, a lot still depends on weather the rest of the season with the most important month for corn July and August for beans. Good weather the rest of the season, especially during these two months, will avert further crop losses and could still produce a good-sized crop, although probably not as large as needed."

Some Midwest farmers are finally getting into the field, foreshadowing that the worst may be past. Elk Point, South Dakota, farmer Robert Walsh says he's just been able get into the field this week to begin replanting corn and soybeans after the Big Sioux River crested more than four feet over its flood stage in his area of southeastern South Dakota.

"In our river bottom soils near Elk Point many of the corn fields are experiencing severe nitrogen deficiency and have been severely hurt by waterlogged soils that do not drain well," Walsh tells Agriculture Online. "Many farmers are patching in drowned out areas as fast as possible before the inevitable dry period hits our area."

Replanting like this, however, may not be an option much longer, says one Agriculture Online Marketing Talk member.

"North of Des Moines [Iowa], you can call it the land of 10,000 lakes because hardly a field does not have a huge body of water, these will not be replanted, and believe me this late in the game there is not going to be much ground going to beans," writes Faust100F.

Still, with a drying pattern through this week in the waterlogged portions of the Corn Belt, fieldwork could be closer than some think, according to Des Moines, Iowa-based ag meteorologist with Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., Charlie Notis.

"The bulk of the Midwest is completely dry for today through Wednesday, with any significant rain confined to western and southwestern fringes of the region," Notis said Monday. "Rain chances are back into the western Corn Belt forecast for Thursday and in parts of the eastern Corn Belt for Friday, but I do not view those rains as very big; except for southwestern parts of the region, most amounts may end up as a half inch or less. I see no sign whatsoever of a return to the flooding conditions that dominated much of the Midwest in the first half of this month."

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