Minnesota crops starting to suffer from droughtby Mark Steil, Minnesota Public Radio
WORTHINGTON, Minn. — Drought conditions in the Midwest are intensifying and starting to affect Minnesota crops, as both corn and soybeans took a step backwards over the last week.
Parts of northwest, southwest and southeast Minnesota are now experiencing moderate drought. Some areas have had only a third of an inch of rain or so over the past month.
Add in long stretches of ninety degree plus heat during that time, and by one measuring stick the unfriendly weather is starting to hurt Minnesota crops.
The U.S. Agriculture Department's weekly report shows that 67 percent of the state's corn is in good to excellent condition, a 10-point drop over the last week. But compared to other areas of the nation's corn belt, the crop in Minnesota is still in good condition.
Only eight percent of the Indiana crop, for example, is in good to excellent shape this week. So while much of Minnesota needs rain, so far the drought of 2012 has only nicked the state's corn yield, Northstar Commodity trader Brandon Marshall said.
"It is taking a bit of a hit, but we are not in the scenario that we're seeing east of the Mississippi River," he said. "So there's still a chance for the farmers in Minnesota to still have a pretty good crop."
If it rains.
Marshall said the next 10 days are crucial as fields need precipitation to prevent further crop deterioration.
Minnesota's soybeans are also suffering, with 65 percent of beans in good to excellent condition, down seven points in the last week.
The drought is expected to reduce the nation's harvest significantly this fall, and the prospect of reduced grain supplies are driving up prices. The price of corn has risen about 40 percent over the last month.
Marshall says that's hurting livestock producers and ethanol plants. Both use corn as a primary part of their business.
If the price of corn and other grains remain high, eventually consumers will also feel it with higher food costs.
- Morning Edition, 07/17/2012, 7:20 a.m.