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"Too dry" crop scenario builds market concerns

Updated: 05/18/2012 @ 9:11am

DES MOINES, Iowa (Agriculture.com)--Will this year's U.S. dry winter carry over into spring? Farmers and marketwatchers alike are hearing reports of numerous Midwest fields that lack moisture already.

"In northeast Nebraska, every pivot is on! Started irrigating corn last week. This week the beans are getting watered. I do not know any neighbor that has not started irrigating," states Jury Duty, an Agriculture.com Marketing Talk member.

"Hot, dry and windy here today (central Minnesota), gray dust haze in the air, makes me wonder what the markets will do if this continues very long? Not much of a chance of rain either...," Agriculture.com Marketing Talk member rusureofit says. 


Midwest weather forecasts, targeting the next two weeks, call for below-normal precipitation and warmer-than-normal temperatures. This signals that all of this year's fast corn planting could be second-guessed.  As of Sunday, U.S. farmers had planted 87% of the corn, with the major producing states of Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska and Illinois all over the 90% level. 

Percival Hanson, a recently retired west-central Illinois agronomist, says 25% of the area corn is knee-high, and that might not be so great if the dry weather outlook is realized.

"Today, the corn looks good. It needs rain, but it looks good. However, I'd get real nervous if it didn't rain for two weeks," Hanson says.

With below-normal snowfall this past winter, combined with spotty spring rainfall, the soils were unable to build up reserves, Hanson says.

"We could be facing a situation where the shallow roots will not be able to search for needed moisture," Hanson says. Those roots have to have moisture to grow."

At knee-high level, the corn plant is really requiring a lot of moisture, as it enters a major growth stage, he says. "So, in too dry conditions, a taller plant will get hurt worse than a smaller plant, due to the higher demand for water," Hanson says.

Discuss crop-weather concerns and their market impact in Marketing Talk.

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