The loss of nearly 6 million acres of corn and soybeans to a cold and rainy planting season this year will be felt into autumn 2020 and beyond, said the government on Thursday, as fat U.S. stockpiles will be drawn down to compensate for short crops.
The wettest spring in a quarter-century may lead to the largest crop insurance payout since 2000 to farmers unable to plant corn and soybeans, said a university economist. He spoke ahead of a USDA report today that will project the impact of a cold and rainy spring on this fall’s harvest.
American farmers, having endured the wettest 12 months in well over a hundred years and facing predictions that this could be the soggy new normal for the nation’s midsection, are looking at a variety of ways to speed up their processes next year, according to Bloomberg.
Despite the wettest spring in a quarter century, U.S. farmers sowed nearly 6 percent more corn and 5 percent fewer soybeans than expected during a cold and muddy planting season, said the USDA, based on a survey of 68,100 growers during the first two weeks of June. The annual Acreage report usually provides a definitive picture of crops, but excessive rain slowed field work so much that the USDA said it will re-survey the Midwest this month and would revise its acreage data, if need be, in its August crop report.
Based on surveys conducted ahead of USDA reports due for release today, analysts say corn plantings will total 86.7 to 87 million acres after a rainy and cold spring. That would be well below the 92.8 million acres that farmers had planned to seed.
Normally, the corn-planting season is over by the first week of June, but this year, 31 million acres — one-third of the intended corn land nationwide — have yet to be sown due to a persistently rainy spring. Soybean planting is also far behind schedule.
Mired by a rainy and chilly spring, U.S. farmers may soon give up on planting corn in rain-soaked parts of the Farm Belt because it is getting too late for money-making yields, said economist Scott Irwin of the University of Illinois. "I truly believe we are in 'black swan' territory as far as late corn planting is concerned," he said over the weekend, using a term popularized during the financial crisis a decade ago.
A larger-than-usual portion of the U.S. corn crop will be planted so late that yields could be depressed, said two University of Illinois economists on Thursday. “A reasonable estimate is that late corn planting in 2019 will be at least 5 to 10 percent above average.”
In an indirect sign of stress in the farm sector, small agricultural banks are making adjustments, such as syndicating loans and charging higher interest rates, to offset risk in the face of high demand for farm loans, said the Federal Reserve in its quarterly Ag Finance Databook. The Fed's Beige Book, meanwhile, said spring floods in the northern Plains and western Corn Belt could put an additional burden on a farm sector coping with low commodity prices.
In its monthly Drought Outlook, the National Weather Service says drought will persist in northern Missouri and southeastern Iowa through August, a key month for crop development. Nationwide, about 15 percent of soybean land and 11 percent of corn land is in drought.