The condition of the 2012 corn crop is dramatically worsening in 18 states, which produce 92% of the U.S. output, which is one-third of the planet's corn production. Speculators are going wild on the Chicago Board of Trade at the Merc (CME); they see visions of killer-profits a la 1988, when drought ruined over 40 percent of the corn crop year-on-year. Meantime, the Obama Administration is Nero-as-usual. The Agriculture Department this Spring said that the current, historic low corn supply — i.e., scarcity — won't matter, because this Fall's new crop will replenish the bins!
Overall, the national corn crop is rated at 48% "good", down from 56% last week, down from 63% the week prior, and down from 72% good a month ago. Every Monday in the Summer crop season, the US Dep't of Agriculture does a summary crop-condition report, which, even accounting for its lies and jiggery-pokery, can't cover up the glaring situation we now have. The furnace-like weather is scorching the fields.
Also, 25% of the corn crop has entered its pollination phase, which is well-ahead of the five-year average, because the mild Winter allowed farmers to plant corn early. The problem with hot, dry, windy conditions during the pollination period (about 10 days long), is that the process can be partial, or fail, producing short ears, poorly filled out.
- Cornhusker State Declared Emergency -
Nebraska — whose nickname is the Cornhusker State — was declared to be in a state of emergency yesterday by Gov. Dave Hickenlooper, because of drought and heat. Not just row crops, but pastures and rangeland are parched, and fodder is scarce.
"This declaration is important for continued efforts of state officials to ensure the safety of Nebraskans," Heineman said in a press release. "This action is necessary as dry conditions are presenting an imminent threat to the ability of local governments to respond to drought conditions."
He has ordered state agencies to undertake various measures, e.g., the Nebraska Dept. of Roads will start making hay in the road ditches today, in multiple counties, in order to provide more fodder. The fact that Nebraska is declared an emergency area is especially significant. The state now ranks foremost in irrigated area in the nation (partly because California's irrigated area has contracted so dramatically), but Nebraska is still suffering heat and drought impacts. (For certain reasons of hydro-geology — perhaps related to the Missouri Basin — the Ogallala formations underlying Nebraska have maintained or improved their water table levels in recent decades).
Indiana, one of the top six corn states, has crop conditions rated only 18% good. Kentucky, also 18%.
Corn in Iowa — the highest-producing state — was rated over 60 percent good yesterday, but farmers and state officials are wary of the low rainfall and scorching temperatures. On July 2, it was 104 F. in Keokuk, on the Mississippi River. Iowa Sec. of Agriculture Bill Northey said July 2 (to Cedar Rapids Gazette, July 3): "Iowa continues to receive periodic rains, but many areas remain short of moisture. The hot, dry weather is a concern as we enter the critical pollination time for the corn crop, so hopefully the heat will break and the states crop will get some more needed rainfall."
In other farm states, governors have declared county-by-county farming emergency declarations, for example, in Arkansas, as well as in fire-ravaged Colorado.
In Chicago Tuesday, corn futures prices soared, rising up to 31 cents a bushel higher (for various futures dates), on a base in the range of $6.55/bu. Chicago Board of Trade corn futures have skyrocketed up 30 percent in a month (up about $1.50/bu). Traders are buzzing for hitting 1988-style, double-digit prices soon this Summer.
The response of the Obama Administration, besides hands-off the Chicago Merc madness, and continuing bio-fuels, is to maintain its royalist focus on how people should eat wiser, not be fat, and consume fresh, nutritious produce in inner cities. White House public/private partnerships are working with supermarket cartels to bring pretense-grocery stores to impoverished "food deserts" among urban poor folk. Marie Antoinette said, Let them eat cake. Michelle and Barack O. say: Don't eat cake.