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.
Changes in soil moisture and increased temperatures could make some areas newly suitable for rainfed, non-irrigated agriculture, but others could lose viability, says a study published in the journal Nature by the U.S. Geological Survey.
After five years of statewide drought, crop plantings in California have been delayed by too much rain, causing prices to rise. Some industry experts think prices could stay high until mid-May. The delays “have led to shortfalls of crops including lettuce and broccoli and sent wholesale prices soaring,” says Bloomberg News.
At the same time rainfall is slaking drought in the Pacific Northwest, the southeastern quadrant of the United States faces intensifying drought, with the worst conditions in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and eastern Tennessee. Georgia's state agriculture director, Gary Black, is to take part in a rally to "discuss the drought facing Georgia's agricultural community and to pray for the rain Georgia so desperately needs" on Monday.
The U.S. corn harvest is running four percentage points behind normal and the soybean harvest is three points behind the five-year average for late September, said USDA's Crop Progress report. Rainy weather slowed the pace of fieldwork and prompted fear of disease losses that would cut into the value of crops, which are forecast to be record-large.
Scanty vegetable supplies are causing "exorbitant prices," says the chief executive of Landec Corp, which sells salad kits, vegetable trays and fresh-cut bagged produce in the food and biomedical markets.
Widespread rain - from 3-6 inches, or more, in some places - fell in the central and southern Plains, the heart of the Wheat Belt, over the past month, said the weekly Drought Monitor. Officials said they want to "better assess the impacts from recent precipitation and to consider areas ripe for downgrades next week."
A rainy December is putting water into California's depleted reservoirs and snowpack on the Sierra Nevada, says the San Francisco Chronicle.
Two weeks of rainy and snowy weather "has provided California a foothold for drought recovery but three straight winters of subnormal precipitation will take time, possibly several consecutive wet winters to recharge the reservoir levels and...
With California seeing its first major rainstorm of the season, the Los Angeles Times said, "Scientists have yet to determine whether the Eastern Pacific is falling into an El Niño pattern and will produce a wetter than average year...
Brazil's soybean belt is critically short of rainfall, in the view of consultancy Oil World, which sees a harvest of 89 million tonnes this season, said AgriMoney.
Like the United States, the European Union is reaping a record corn crop this year, says USDA, estimating the European crop at 71 million tonnes.
Researchers say the Global Positioning System, which helps drivers navigate the roads and which monitors tiny movements of the earth's surface as a possible indicator of developing earthquakes, has measured the huge loss of water due to severe drought in the West, says National Geographic.
Widespread and locally heavy rain storms in the central Plains and Midwest capped four weeks of an easing in the extent and severity of drought across the nation, said the Drought Monitor.
The National Weather Service forecasts more precipitation than usual in the Midwest, the Plains and the Pacific Northwest for late April, which could delay spring planting but relieve dry conditions in the western Corn Belt and the central and southern Plains.
The National Weather Service sees an increased likelihood of an El Nino weather pattern developing by this summer and through the rest of the year.