Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Unending harvest: 'Double or nothing'
What happens to a corn crop when you have some of the worst harvest weather in history? Instead of starting to set up their planters, a lot of farmers are still tweaking their combines to run in snow.
And the impact on the markets may still not be fully absorbed, and won’t be until the spring acreage battle is over, one analyst, Al Kluis, Kluis Commodities, says.
October ’09 did turn out to rank as the wettest, and third coldest, ever for the nation, going back 115 years, says Harvey Freese, Freese-Notis Weather.
After better November weather, December turned treacherous. “December was eleventh wettest such month on record for the nation,” Freese says. “Precipitation was among the ten wettest ever for South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, as well as several states in the Southeast.”
How much corn will be in the field come spring? Farmers report seeing a lot of it still standing this winter.
In an Agriculture Online poll, taken in mid-January, nearly two thirds of respondents reported seeing “a little” corn in the field in their areas. Nearly 20% said “a lot.”
A little and a lot adds up to a lot. Kluis says there will be some 500 million bushels in the field this spring, maybe more. "And, there will be twenty to thirty percent field loss," he says.
Roy Smith, a Nebraska farmer and marketing advisor, has been traveling eastern Nebraska for the last couple weeks giving presentations and has done his own windshield tour. "There are scattered fields standing everywhere I have been," Smith says. "I saw no huge acreages, but little bits add up when you put them all together. There will be substantial losses when harvested.”
You hear similar stories from farmers in other states. Conditions are such in Minnesota that standing corn won’t get touched until April or May, a grower from the southwestern part of the state told Agriculture.com.
An Illinois farmer reported in an Agriculture.com forum that several large fields of corn exist in his neighborhood and "most is mangled by the wind storms we had back in November and December.”
The situation sets up as a “double or nothing” deal on March and April weather for many farmers, says Kluis. “You can’t plant it if you can’t harvest it first,” he says.
Posted by John Walter at 8:52 AM