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Midwestern Drought Continues—Higher Commodity Prices Could, Too

The drought in the Midwest last year created a boon of sorts for southeastern farmers who experienced the best crop year in quite some time, plus good prices thanks to the drought as well. USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey says while the Midwest has seen some decent moisture over the winter, their drought is far from over:

“Across the Midwest its been kind of mixed. We have seen enough relief in the eastern corn belt to say the drought is over, but the further west you go, especially in some of the key production states, like Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, we still see a lot of underlying drought. It may look moist on the surface, but sub soil moisture is still depleated.”

As far as the production year ahead for Midwestern farmers, they really have a steep hill to climb to get back to something close to average or normal:

“The last really good year we had for corn production in the Midwest was 2009. That year it was very wet in the spring and there was a lot of concern about the delayed planting. Since then we have had some degree of problems. We are still looking for the bounce back that we haven’t seen since ’09. Even thought a lot of crop models and projections show that spring conditions really don’t mean to much ultimately as far as the results of row crops in the Midwest, you still have to consider the fact that we have really big soil moisture shortages.”

Corn futures fell sharply Thursday and again on Monday on projected corn acres, largely in the Midwest, as reported in the Prospective Plantings Report. But, production acres and corn in the bin are two completely different things. And Rippey says it may be a little early to bank on those acres of corn, or wheat:

“We have the prospective planting numbers, and the planting of corn will be the largest since the 1930s. As you head to the western fringe of the corn belt, that is where we are still in trouble. Right now we have a troubled winter wheat crop out there. We will get the first look at the national crop condition and see how it made it through the winter. Conditions have been mixed, it hasn’t been too dry or too wet. We will still see a highly stressed wheat crop.”

USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey.

Below is the latest US Drought Monitor for the week ending March 26. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.