Tags: isaac | farm | crop | rain

Storm Isaac Buoys Hopes for Parched US Farmlands

Monday, 27 August 2012 01:11 PM

Fallout from Tropical Storm Isaac is likely to include drought-relieving rainfall for a big chunk of the central and southern U.S. Midwest, giving some relief to late-season crops following the worst drought in more than 50 years.

Isaac was churning across the Gulf of Mexico on Monday and was poised to make landfall early Wednesday on either the Mississippi or Louisiana Gulf Coast as a Category 1 hurricane with 90-mile-per-hour (144-kilometer-per-hour) winds.

A side benefit to the storm will be welcome rainfall to parched U.S. cropland and grazing lands.

"You feel sorry for the people that are going to get hit along the Coast but it's going to be a blessing for some of us," said Kansas farmer Tyler Alpers.

The drought has already harmed the corn crop beyond repair but some soybeans may be saved and the rains will be a big boost to autumn seeding of the winter wheat crop.

Alpers told Reuters he was looking forward to more rain later in the week from the impact of Isaac after a weekend of two to four inch rains over his farm in Stafford County, Kansas, about 20 miles south of Great Bend.

"There is definitely a little more bounce in everyone's step, a more positive attitude. It's depressing with day after day of 100 degree heat and no rain," Alpers said.

Alpers produces wheat, soybeans, corn and alfalfa hay and depends on pasture for his cow-calf operation.

"It's too late for fall crops and pasture but it will really help with fall planting of wheat in about a month," he said.

Some late season soybeans may also benefit from the rainfall that Isaac is expected to generate.

"The big question is how much will later planted soybeans benefit," said John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring. "It would have helped a lot more if the rainfall came two weeks ago."

Dee said from 3 to 5 inches or more rainfall was expected beginning on Wednesday and Thursday in Louisiana and Mississippi, from 1 to 4 inches by Friday in Arkansas and Missouri, and from 0.50 to 1.00 inch or more by Saturday and Sunday in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

"It will help soybean seed size. If the soybean plant is still green there will be some benefit," said Dale Durcholz, a crop and marketing expert for AgriVisor, a division of the Illinois Farm Bureau Association.

"It definitely will help fall wheat planting and it will give a boost to late season hay crops."

Dee said the remnants from Isaac, while providing much-needed moisture, were not likely to harm mature crops in the southern or central U.S. Midwest.

"There will be some wind, but I don't think there will be much harm to crops," he said. "It will slow harvest for a few days."

The annual Pro Farmer tour of Midwest crops found signs of severe crop losses in the top-producing Midwest states. On Friday it forecast the U.S. corn and soybean harvest smaller than the government is predicting, with production the lowest in nearly a decade.

Additionally, a Reuters poll of 11 analysts estimated the 2012 U.S. corn yield per acre at 121.5 bushels, the lowest in 16 years, and production at 10.5 billion bushels, an eight-year low.

In its first survey asking for estimates of the amount of corn to be harvested compared with plantings, the poll showed the percentage of harvested corn area at the lowest in nine years.

Analysts' expectations for corn production this season fell 3 percent below the U.S. government's forecast earlier in August and 6 percent below a similar poll of analysts taken by Reuters at the end of July.

Late on Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will release updated harvest progress reports in its weekly crop progress report. Last Monday, the USDA said 4 percent of the U.S. corn crop had already been harvested, the fastest start ever. The crop was planted early and then was pushed to maturity by relentless heat and drought over the summer.

© 2020 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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Monday, 27 August 2012 01:11 PM
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