Farmers across the Midwest are on track to produce the largest corn crop in 75 years, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This despite last week's gloomy weather across much of the region.
More than half of the seasonal corn crop had been planted as of Monday, a jump from 28 percent just a week ago and 12 percent as measured this time last year. The five-year average is 27 percent.
Overall, farmers will increase corn production to nearly 96 million acres in 2012, the most of any year since 1937, according to the USDA in its weekly report.
While not a record, 12 percent of the year's soybean crop has also been planted, compared with 6 percent a week ago. The five-year average is 5 percent.
In Iowa, farmers have planted 50 percent of the corn crop - an impressive increase from just nine percent the previous week. In Minnesota, the corn crop is 48 percent complete, compared with just 1 percent last year, according to the USDA.
A study published a week ago in the journal Climate Change said global warming will be severely impacting the corn market in Corn Belt states. Factors such as market policies or oil prices have comparatively little effect on corn prices than global warming, says the study by researchers from Stanford University and Purdue University. The trend will force farmers to increase their crops' heat tolerance or move northward to farm near the Canadian border to avoid the heat waves.
"U.S. corn-price volatility exhibits higher sensitivity to near-term climate change than to energy policy influences or agriculture-energy market integration," researchers Diffenbaugh, Thomas W. Hertel, Martin Scherer and Monika Verma wrote in the article published on Sunday.
The scientists say policies do make a difference, particularly government mandates surrounding the corn market. Federal biofuel mandates, for example, are currently contributing to the oversupply of corn, and could make it difficult in future years for farmers to adjust to volatile yields, they say.
Congress is currently considering renewal of the federal farm bill for the first time since 2008. Without action, the bill will expire on Sept. 30, ending a number of government programs designed to protect and benefit farmers.
Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin (D) told RTT News that Congress should improve conservation policies that can protect fields against excessive rainfall or droughts, but he also noted that demand for grains are on the rise worldwide instead of a descent.
"There will be temporary fluctuations in the corn market, but I think the trend is going to be one where there's going to be strong prices for corn for the foreseeable future," Harkin said.
"Our farm bill basically leaves in place those programs that allow farmers to make their decisions based upon what the market signals that they're getting. And I think that's what farmers more and more are doing - they're looking at the markets, at the futures markets, at the demand, and they're making decisions about whether to plant corn or soybeans."
More action on the farm bill is expected after Congress returns from a break next week. The bill has been allowed to lapse before in recent years, once in 1996 and again in 2007.
by RTT Staff Writer
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