Crops and Weather

Total Catastrophe For U.S. Corn Production: Only 30% Of U.S. Corn Fields Have Been Planted – 5 Year Average Is 66%

By Michael Snyder

2019 is turning out to be a nightmare that never ends for the agriculture industry.  Thanks to endless rain and unprecedented flooding, fields all over the middle part of the country are absolutely soaked right now, and this has prevented many farmers from getting their crops in the ground.  I knew that this was a problem, but when I heard that only 30 percent of U.S. corn fields had been planted as of Sunday, I had a really hard time believing it.  But it turns out that number is 100 percent accurate.  And at this point corn farmers are up against a wall because crop insurance final planting dates have either already passed or are coming up very quickly.  In addition, for every day after May 15th that corn is not in the ground, farmers lose approximately 2 percent of their yield.  Unfortunately, more rain is on the way, and it looks like thousands of corn farmers will not be able to plant corn at all this year.  It is no exaggeration to say that what we are facing is a true national catastrophe.

According to the Department of Agriculture, over the past five years an average of 66 percent of all corn fields were already planted by now…

U.S. farmers seeded 30% of the U.S. 2019 corn crop by Sunday, the government said, lagging the five-year average of 66%. The soybean crop was 9% planted, behind the five-year average of 29%.

Soybean farmers have more time to recover, but they are facing a unique problem of their own which we will talk about later in the article.

But first, let’s take a look at the corn planting numbers from some of our most important corn producing states.  I think that you will agree that these numbers are almost too crazy to believe…

Iowa: 48 percent planted – 5 year average 76 percent

Minnesota: 21 percent planted – 5 year average 65 percent

North Dakota: 11 percent planted – 5 year average 43 percent

South Dakota: 4 percent planted – 5 year average 54 percent

Yes, you read those numbers correctly.

Can you imagine what this is going to do to food prices?

Many farmers are extremely eager to plant crops, but the wet conditions have made it impossible.  The following comes from ABC 7 Chicago

McNeill grows corn and soybeans on more than 500 acres in Grayslake. But much of his farmland is underwater right now, and all of it is too wet to plant. Rain is a farmer’s friend in the summer but in the spring too much rain keeps farmers from planting.

The unusually wet spring has affected farmers throughout the Midwest, but Illinois has been especially hard hit. Experts say with the soil so wet, heavy and cold, it takes the air out and washes nutrients away, making it difficult if not impossible for seeds to take root.

Right now, soil moisture levels in the state of Illinois “are in the 90th to 99th percentile statewide”.  In other words, the entire state is completely and utterly drenched.

As a result, very few Illinois farmers have been able to get corn or soybeans in the ground at this point

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s crop progress reports, about 11% of Illinois corn has been planted and about 4% of soybeans. Last year at this time, 88% of corn and 56% of soybeans were in the ground.

I would use the word “catastrophe” to describe what Illinois farmers are facing, but the truth is that what they are going through is far beyond that.

Normally, if corn farmers have a problem getting corn in the ground then they just switch to soybeans instead.  But thanks to the trade war, soybean exports have plummeted dramatically, and the price of soybeans is the lowest that it has been in a decade.

As a result there is very little profit, if any, in growing soybeans this year

Farmers in many parts of the corn belt have suffered from a wet and cooler spring, which has prevented them from planting corn. Typically when it becomes too late to plant corn, farmers will instead plant soybeans, which can grow later into the fall before harvest is required. Yet now, planting soybeans with the overabundance already in bins and scant hope for sales to one of the biggest buyers in China, could raise the risk of a financial disaster.

And if the wet conditions persist, many soybean farms are not going to be able to plant crops at all this year.

Sadly, global weather patterns are continuing to go haywire, and much more rain is coming to the middle of the country starting on Friday

Any hopes of getting corn and soybean planting back on track in the U.S. may be washed away starting Friday as a pair of storms threaten to deliver a “one-two punch” of soaking rain and tornadoes across the Great Plains and Midwest through next week.

As much as 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 centimeters) of rain will soak soils from South Dakota and Minnesota south to Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

We have never had a year quite like this before, and U.S. food production is going to be substantially below expectations.  I very much encourage everyone to get prepared for much higher food prices and a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the months ahead.

Even though I have been regularly documenting the nightmarish agricultural conditions in the middle of the country, the numbers in this article are much worse than I thought they would be at this point in 2019.

This is truly a major national crisis, and it is just getting started.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

from:    https://www.activistpost.com/2019/05/total-catastrophe-for-u-s-corn-production-only-30-of-u-s-corn-fields-have-been-planted-5-year-average-is-66.html

Food, Food Prices, & Gardening

Why Are Food Prices So High?

Click image to enlarge

Holly Deyo
Activist Post

Everyone is complaining about sky high food prices. Why are they going nuts? The fault is mostly due to harsh weather conditions of drought, vicious storms, floods, soggy soil, hail, frost and ice, and ferocious winds. Escalating extremes have beaten fruits, vegetables and farm animals to death around the world and we’re paying for it – literally. In the last 3 years, America was slammed with 32 multi-billion dollar disasters that for the most part, hit during crop-growing seasons. The 2012 Drought / Heatwave alone took a $30 billion bite out of peoples’ pockets.

For the past three years drought has decimated Texas cattle herds by over 2 million head. Now California’s cattle are getting smacked. This is small potatoes by comparison, but last year South Dakota lost 30,000 head – frozen in a single November blizzard. Our neighbor to the south, Mexico, lost 1.7 million head in 2011 due to drought. There are other cattle losses as well, but there’s not time to document them all.

It used to be that cattle herds took about 3 years to replenish. Experts stated this week it could take the rest of this decade – 6 years – to rebuild America’s beef and dairy livestock. That’s double the norm. Meanwhile, food prices continue to ramp up. That’s if no more catastrophes descend. How much do you want to bet on a lucky break? In the first 3 months of this year, 1/3 of the U.S. is in USDA-declared crop disaster areas.

Gas prices are moving up again with Brent Crude kissing a $100/barrel yesterday. It costs more money to move produce, dairy and meat from farmer to fork. Also, more countries are eating better so farmers ship more food to other nations. This puts a squeeze on our supply. Then there’s the idiocy of bio-fuels, which takes another bite from food stocks. However, the most direct and dire cause of rising food prices is unquestionably weather disasters.

MITIGATION

Having your own garden helps counteract rocketing food prices. All you need is a bit of space, some know-how and a little time. Frankly, I’d rather be outside messing in the garden, soaking up the Sun, doing what we can to provide in the face of Nature’s fury, and helping plants spring to life than read depressing news. It’s like my girlfriend’s phone recording: “Hey, I’m out playing in the dirt. Leave a message!”

You don’t need to have this much space dedicated to veggies. Generally speaking, all that is needed is one 4×4 bed for salad greens and one 4×4 bed for vegetables for each adult. See? It requires little space for the basics. However, in light of ever-darkening current events, worsening weather and escalating grocery prices, we’re taking out our own food insurance for pennies on the dollar. Since the world is now a global food store, everyone’s pain is our pain and we all feel it at the grocery store. If you’re a newbie gardener or are bleary-eyed from reading news, here’s a look at our layout for this year’s crops.

DESIGNING YOUR GARDEN GOLD

Stan and I practice what we preach and have greatly expanded our veggie gardens this year. In fact, from 8 years ago, they’ve doubled in size. Some of the harvest will be canned, some frozen, some eaten fresh, some given to friends and some taken to the homeless shelter. Nothing will go to waste. We see hard times coming this year and having an ample garden is one way to fight back.

Image: This year we really concentrated on what we like to eat and grow just that. Figures 1, 2 and 3 show the layout of this year’s gardens. We’ve expanded them considerably in light of much higher food prices. It will save money in the long run. See the first article in this series, How to Beat Coming Killer Food Shortages. Since we grow organically, we won’t fall victim to repeated fruit and veggie recalls due to E. Coli, listeria and salmonella contamination. Numbers in red are the weeks that successive crops will be planted.

For example, the first lettuce, carrot, radish and spinach seeds were sown on March 29. Second crop will be planted April 12 and the 3rd crop on April 26. For radishes, since they only take about a month to harvest, the 4th planting on May 10 will go where the March 29 seeds were and so on. For peas and other lettuces, we’ll plant for Fall crops.

THINK WITH THE BRAIN, NOT THE BELLY

Last year, we had tons too many tomatoes, summer squash and zucchini and ended up giving away more than half of everything. Neighbors were happy to help us with this!

We still have plenty of Jalapeños, Serranos and Big Jim/Nu Mex in the freezer from 2013, so this year, the garden will just grow Santa Fe chilies.

Bell Peppers have a ton of uses whether they’re eaten fresh or grilled or included in salads, omelettes and kabobs. Extras at the end of season can be Ziplocked and frozen to make colorful tasty additions to soups and stews.

Zucchinis over-produce for our use, so there will be just a couple of seedlings planted. Since we adore baked Acorn and Butternut squash we’ve allowed for plenty. They store for months and are super versatile.

My favorite method is to slice them in half lengthwise, scoop out the seed goo, add a bit of butter, white wine and seasoning like Lawry’s or even better, Red Robin. The flavor of a little sweet wine mixed with a hint of Red Robin zing? Yum. Bake them in water about 1/3 of the way up the squash until fork-tender. Baste occasionally. A clone for Red Robin Seasoning goes like this:

Red Robin Seasoning

  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant tomato soup mix (Knorr tomato with basil works great)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. Store in a covered container. Makes 1/3 cup.

Stan is a major fan of small watermelons, so we’re planting a bunch of Sugar Babies. Ditto for Holly on cantaloupe. The best ever is grown just a few miles away – Rocky Ford. Yes, this is the same ‘loupe involved in the 2011 listeria outbreak. Regardless, they are the sweetest cantaloupes on the planet. To be clear, Jensen Farms in Holly, Colorado that was responsible for the listeria drama is not the same as Rocky Ford Grower’s Assn. They are 100 miles apart. To further confuse things, Rocky Ford is both a place and the name of these luscious ‘loupes.

Image: The dotted line represents two different growing areas. The two ‘old beds’ on the left are out by the orchard and the two ‘new beds’ are about 50 feet off the back deck.

We love Snap and Snow Peas and Green Beans and have been known to munch them straight off the vine. 🙂 Plus, they freeze well. Since beans and peas are something we consume regularly, we’re planting a bunch.

And then there’s Pinto Beans. Stan and I must have Hispanic roots somewhere “in another life” because Tex-Mex is our favorite food bar none. Nothing beats a hair-raising, nosebleed-bitingly flavorful bit of really southern tucker. This brings us to that weird patch of cilantro in Figure 1. It is integral to many Tex-Mex meals. This stuff simply won’t die out. It grew throughout winter with no water in sub-freezing temps. So for its faithfulness, we let it live, otherwise I’d dig up this herb and replace it with a veggie.

TIP: Spices can take up as much room as veggies. Economically speaking, it’s more cost-effective to buy them in bulk from Tone’s and save your space for fruits and vegetables. Besides Tone’s for dried bulk buys, check McCormick, Frontier Natural Products Co-op, Monterey Bay Spice Company and My Spice Sage. We’ve purchased most of ours from the first three, not the last two. However, nothing beats the fragrance and flavor of fresh herbs and spices.

KNOW WHEN TO FOLD ‘EM

Four years ago, we put in an asparagus bed with 47 crowns. You’d think that’d be plenty and then some. Mistakenly we thought multiple varieties would be clever. Not so. The Martha Washington, Jersey Giant and Jersey Knights were ready at different times. Some were thicker and some thinner, which meant they steamed at different times. There wasn’t a single instance when more than 4 or 5 stalks were ready to harvest simultaneously. Not exactly a side dish for 2. It was a nice stalk here, 2 more there. Since we live in the high desert, it was a perpetual uphill fight to get them going productively, like pushing a boulder along with a toothpick. Plus, you’re not supposed to harvest the first year’s crop. More waiting. Florence, a town just 30 minutes west of us, has them growing wild by the Arkansas River. When our neighbor lived there his mom sent Jerry nightly to pick all they needed – for free. Lucky dog!

If in having a practical, usable garden, some things are just too difficult and expensive to cultivate, yell calf rope! Enough already! This year, the asparagus patch now holds melons, cucumbers, broccoli and celery.

CHANGE FOR THE BETTER, NOT OBAMA’S “HOPE & CHANGE”

Don’t be surprised if, over the years, your garden beds morph. This is what we started with in 2007: 6 – 4×4-foot beds. The strawberry bed is history. They didn’t produce enough at the same time (like the asparagus) to warrant the space. Unless you have time every week to cut off runners, the bed soon becomes an overgrown, tangled mess. For fruit, these plants were replaced by raspberry, blueberry, grape and elderberry bushes on a berm not pictured. Also in the fruit department are 15 trees consisting of varieties of apple, peach, plum, pear and cherry.

Photo: In eight years our gardens have changed considerably and doubled in size.

The cedar beds (pictured above) didn’t weather well in Colorado’s high altitude and strong UV. Gone are the chicken wire walls and cages. Where the 4 – 4×4 beds were on the left are now 2 – 4×4’s and 1 – 4×8. The two decorative brick beds on the right have morphed into two more 4×8’s. Our total bed space is this: 4 – 4×4’s, 4 – 4×8’s and one goofy-sized 6×7. We use recycled plastic and natural fiber board raised beds from Frame-It-All with nifty animal barriers. They also sell very cool attachable greenhouse tops and trellises.

The image below of a Frame-It-All 4×8 bed is their older model for the animal barrier. Now where “A” is, it has a cap like on “B”. This allows for multiple 2-foot additions of animal barriers – in case you have tall invaders! Numerous other companies manufacture similar raised bed kits. We just happened to land on Frame It All and stuck with them for continuity. You can also build your own as detailed in Garden Gold.

All of our beds are 12″ deep, which makes rotating crops no problem. If you use only a 4″ or 6″ high board, which holds just 3-5 inches of Super Soil, it makes growing potatoes, carrots and some other root veggies nearly impossible, so it greatly cuts down on the ability to rotate crops. With extra depth, there is always flexibility. It’s vital that crops are rotated yearly to naturally prevent bug infestations. Not every bug likes the same veggie so if they’ve visited cauliflower one year, next year’s crop of cauliflower needs to go in a different area. This is one of the main natural preventative techniques used by organic farmers.

SIDEBAR TIP: Also changed is the 500-gallon propane tank pictured above. No, it’s not gone. When natural gas was made available to our area, we chose to go with it. However, we’ve kept the propane tank – always filled – for back-up fuel. In the event of a prolonged power outage – as in months – gas appliances can be switched back to propane. You can’t believe how much less expensive it is to refill your BBQ canisters from this big tank. It’s always available so if you’re cooking and the 20-gallon BBQ tank is unexpectedly empty, it’s easy-peasy-cheapy to fill up.

Back to gardening. Areas around the beds are now grassed in. That, combined with the Chinese bio-intensive growing method of planting everything close together keeps weeds at bay as there’s no place for them to take root. In case you’ve read our accounts and saw this video of massive tumbleweed issues in southern Colorado, it’s best not to give their seeds a place to land. It’s also easier on the feet and knees than surrounding beds with sharp, decorative rock. All it takes is a quick go with the Weedeater to keep grass in line.

from:    http://www.activistpost.com/2014/04/why-are-food-prices-so-high.html

Drought Devastates Corn Yield, Affects Food Prices

U.S. Corn Production Outlook Cut As Drought Takes Toll

AP  |  By Posted: 08/10/2012 9:34 am Updated: 08/10/2012 11:02 am

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The government slashed its expectations for U.S. corn and soybean production for the second consecutive month Friday, predicting what could be the lowest average corn yield in more than 15 years as the worst drought in decades continued punishing key farm states.

Nonetheless, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a statement supplied exclusively to The Associated Press, insisted that U.S. farmers and ranchers remain resilient and that the country would continue to meet demand as the global leader in farm exports and food aid.

The U.S. Agriculture Department cut its projected U.S. corn production to 10.8 billion bushels, down 17 percent from its forecast last month of nearly 13 billion bushels and 13 percent lower than last year. That also would be the lowest production since 2006.

The USDA, in its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, now expects corn growers to average 123.4 bushels per acre, down 24 bushels from last year in what would be the lowest average yield in 17 years.

Soybean production is now forecast at 2.69 billion bushels, a 12 percent decline from last year and well off the 3.05 billion bushels the USDA had expected last month. Expected yields on average of 36.1 bushels per acre would be the lowest since 2003.

Friday’s revised outlook comes months after corn farmers forecast a record year when they planted, sowing 96.4 million acres — the most since 1937. But the USDA now forecasts the area to be harvested at 87.4 million acres.

On Thursday, the U.N. food agency drew a direct correlation between price hikes in basic food commodities and the months of parched conditions in farm states. The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said in its monthly price report that its overall food price index climbed 6 percentage points in July, although it was well below the peak reached in February 2011. The FAO’s index, considered a global benchmark used to track market volatility and price trends, measures the monthly price changes for a basket of food items including cereals, oils and fats, meat, dairy products and sugar.Severe drought punishing the U.S.’s midsection has sent corn prices soaring, and expectations of worsened crop prospects in Russia because of dry weather sent world wheat prices up 19 percent, according to the FAO, which keeps close tabs on volatile global prices. Spikes in the prices of staple foods have led to riots in some countries in recent years.

But on Friday, Vilsack tried to tamp down such concerns.

“Americans shouldn’t see immediate increases in food prices due to the drought,” said Vilsack, as he visited drought-stricken Nebraska and with plans to be in Iowa next week. “What is important going forward is that we continue to do all we can to help the farmers, ranchers, small businesses and communities being impacted by this drought.”

Rick Whitacre, a professor of agricultural economics at Illinois State University, said consumers may see modest increases in prices in grocery stores due to tightened corn supplies because the grain is so ubiquitous, found in everything from cosmetics to cereal, soda, cake mixes and candy bars. But he believes the bigger fallout will come in 4 to 6 percent price increases for beef and pork, with many ranchers having sold off their livestock as feed costs rise and the drought burned up their pasturelands.

“You’re going to see the ripple of this go out for quite a distance,” Whitacre said. “We may see some upward pressure (on prices), especially in things like vegetable oil and a lot of our food products,” but that should be manageable.

The U.S. leads the world in exporting corn, soybeans and wheat, and the surging prices are expected to be felt across the international marketplace, hurting poor food-importing countries, said a study by British charity Oxfam issued on the eve of the U.N. report.

Vilsack said he has pressed Congress to pass a comprehensive, multi-year farm bill “that gives farmers and ranchers more certainty in this tough time, while giving USDA tools to help those producers affected by weather-related events beyond their control.”

The USDA foreshadowed the newly lowered yield projections, noting earlier this week that exactly half of the nation’s corn crop was rated poor to very poor, up 2 percentage points from the previous week and creeping closer to the peak of 53 percent of 24 years ago. Some 39 percent of soybeans now fall under those two categories, rising 2 percentage points for the second straight week and eclipsing the 1988 benchmark of 37 percent.

The nation’s rangeland and pastures are faring even worse, with roughly three-fifths rated to be in poor to very poor shape — the largest area thus affected in 18 years.

Friday’s USDA report amplified the troubling picture painted a day earlier when the latest weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map showed that the drought conditions continue to worsen in Plains states, where production of corn and soybeans is key. That update showed that the expanse still gripped by extreme or exceptional drought — the two worst classifications — rose to 24.14 percent, up nearly 2 percentage points from the previous week.

Federal scientists say this July was the hottest on record, smoking out even the sweltering temperatures set in the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Wednesday that the first seven months of 2012 were the warmest on record while the stretch from August 2011 through July this year was the balmiest 12-month period the U.S. has experienced.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/10/us-corn-production_n_1763943.html