Spring flooding in the northern Plains and western Corn Belt will have a marginal impact on corn and soybean plantings, according to a USDA survey of growers and initial tallies of flooded land. With normal weather and yields, there would be limited impact on production of the two most widely grown U.S. crops, thanks to the huge amount of cropland nationwide.
A three-day lightning tour of the spring wheat crop in the northern Plains points to the lowest average yield in nine years, “a sign of the intense drought conditions plaguing much of the western Dakotas this year,” said DTN. Crop scouts checked 496 fields and saw a “high number of abandoned fields in the western counties, many of which had been cut and baled for hay” because the wheat was not worth harvesting.
Faced with prolonged and intensifying drought in the northern Plains, USDA opened a still-larger portion of the Conservation Reserve, ordinarily off-limits to farm work, to emergency haying and grazing. In its fourth announcement of permission for landowners to use the idled land for livestock forage, the USDA said haying and grazing would be permitted on wetlands and on buffer strips, often used to protect waterways from farm runoff, that are enrolled in the reserve.
Futures prices for spring wheat soared 40 percent in a month and hit nearly $8 a bushel at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange on Monday, a four-year high, due to drought in the northern Plains, said the Wall Street Journal. The spring wheat prices, far above USDA's forecast of a season average $4.30 a bushel for this year's wheat crop, illustrate the demand for high-quality wheat despite a global glut.
Spring and early summer are the wet season for the northern Plains, a cattle, wheat, and corn-growing region, so the dry start to this year’s growing season could have a lasting impact, says the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor.