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.


Tips on Food Storage

Food Storage: 20 Crops That Keep and How to Store Them

25th September 2012

By Barbara Pleasant –

Here in southwest Virginia, my partner and I take pride in growing and storing most of our fruits and vegetables. Knowing where our food comes from gives us confidence in its goodness, plus we save about $5,000 a year through our gardening and food storage efforts.

There is another benefit, which is the utter convenience of having a self-provisioned home. In early winter when our stores are full, I feel like I’m living in a well-stocked organic grocery store.

We bring many years of experience to this quest, and we’re still learning. Measured by weight, stored garden crops make up more than half of our overall harvest, with every onion and potato just about as fresh as it was the day it came from the garden. Our mix of storage vegetables and fruits varies from year to year and we’ve learned that putting by storage crops is something anyone can do — even if your produce comes from the farmers market. By making use of cold storage spots in your basement or garage, and perhaps adding a seasonal second refrigerator, you can use our charts to easily store 20 storage crops for winter eating using simple, time-tested methods.

Sleeping Quarters for Storage Crops

Success with storage crops hinges on finding methods that convince the crops that they are enjoying a natural period of dormancy in unusually comfortable conditions. This typically involves slowing physiology by controlling respiration (usually by lowering temperature) and/or providing moisture so crisp root vegetables sense they are still in the ground. Some staple storage crops, such as garlic, onions and shallots, need dry conditions to support prolonged dormancy.

Most storage crops need to be cured to enhance their storage potential. During the curing process, potatoes and sweet potatoes heal over small wounds to the skin, garlic and onions form a dry seal over the openings at their necks, and dry beans and grain corn let go of excess moisture that could otherwise cause them to rot. Harvesting, curing and storage requirements vary with each crop — see the charts in How to Harvest, Cure and Store 20 Storage Crops for full details. In my experience, harvesting and curing vegetables properly leads to much more flexibility when it comes to long-term storage conditions.

Storing Potatoes

Seeking out good food storage spots in your home or on your property can lead to interesting discoveries. Take storing potatoes, for example. When we asked the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Facebook community to share favorite ways for storing potatoes in winter, we received dozens of great ideas, including these:

Place cured potatoes in a burlap bag, tuck the bag into a plastic storage bin left open a wee bit, and keep in an unheated basement.

Line plastic laundry baskets with newspapers, with potatoes arranged in layers between more newspapers. Place the packed, covered baskets in an unheated garage.

In the basement, make short towers of potatoes by stacking them between layers of open egg cartons. Cover the towers with cloth to protect the potatoes from light.

Place sorted potatoes in cloth grocery bags that have been lined with black plastic bags, and store in a cold space under the stairs. A similar method: Sort different potatoes into paper bags, then place the bags in milk crates to prevent bruising.

Use an old dresser in a cool room or basement for storing potatoes in winter. Leave the drawers partially open for ventilation.

In a shady spot outdoors, place a tarp over the ground and cover it with an inch of loose straw. Pile on potatoes and cover with more straw, a second tarp, and a 10-inch blanket of leaves or straw.

Bury a garbage can horizontally so that its bottom half is at least 12 inches deep in the soil. Place potatoes in the can with shredded paper or clean straw. Secure the lid with a bungee cord, and cover with an old blanket if needed to shade out sun.

Here in Virginia, we have vole issues that require us to harvest our early spuds promptly, so my buried garbage can gets plenty of use for storing potatoes. Buried coolers or even buried freezer bodies (with machinery removed) can work in the same way.

Storing Crisp Root Vegetables

Theoretically, root vegetables that grow well below ground can be mulched over in fall and dug as needed in winter. This often works well with parsnips, but most gardeners would risk losing much of an overwintered carrot or beet crop to wireworms, voles or other critters. Repeated freezing and thawing of the surface soil damages shallow-rooted turnips and beets. It’s always safer (and more convenient) to harvest root crops, clean them up and secure them in cold storage. In Zones 7 and warmer, you’ll probably need a second refrigerator, as you won’t have naturally cooled spaces that stay below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. In colder winter climates, you have several options:

Bins, buckets or trugs packed with damp sand or sawdust and stashed in cold spots around your homestead, such as under your basement stairs or in an unheated garage or storage shed. This method works amazingly well if you can find a place with temperatures in the 32- to 40-degree range. Every few weeks, dump out containers and repack them, eating any roots that are showing signs of softening.

The previously described method of storing potatoes in a buried garbage container works well for root vegetables, but you’ll need a second one (or a buried cooler) for roots that need moist conditions. Pack these in damp sand or sawdust to maintain high humidity.

Working outside the fridge, the biggest challenge in storing crisp roots is maintaining high humidity without promoting molds and soft rots. That’s where packing materials, including damp sawdust or damp sand, come in handy. Sawdust is clean and lightweight, and the residue can be shaken out into the garden. Sand weighs more but is reusable — simply dry it in the sun and return it to a bucket or bin until you need it in the fall.

A seasonal second refrigerator is worth considering if you have a lot of carrots or beets to store, live in a climate too warm for underground storage, or want to store root vegetables to sell or trade later.

When preparing to store carrots, beets and other root vegetables in plastic bags in the refrigerator, sprinkle in a few drops of water as you pack each bag. Ideally, a few drops of condensation should form inside the bags after they have been well-chilled in the fridge.

Storing Squash

Now for something really easy: storing winter squash. The hard rinds of winter squash protect them from drying out, so all they need is a cool spot where you can check them from time to time. Look for signs of mold, and promptly consume squash that have developed minor blemishes, such as discoloration or soft spots.

Some types of winter squash store longer than others, so it’s important to eat them in proper order.

Squash and pumpkins classified as Cucurbita pepo tend to keep for only two to three months. These include acorn squash, delicata or sweet potato squash, spaghetti squash and most small pumpkins. Eat these first.

Buttercup and kabocha squash (C. maxima) will keep for four months under good conditions, but after two months the fruits should be watched closely for signs of softening or mold. Many squash pie devotees bake up all questionable buttercups in early winter and stash the mashed squash in the freezer. This is a wise move, because it’s far easier to make a pie or batch of muffins if you have frozen squash purée waiting in your freezer than it is to face down a squash the size of your head.

The smooth, hard rinds of butternut squash (C. moschata) help give them the longest storage life (often six months or more), so butternuts should be eaten last. We grow more butternuts than any other winter squash because they are such a cinch to store.

A Second Fridge for Storing Fruit

As owners of six mature fruit trees, we couldn’t manage our harvest without a second refrigerator for storing apples and pears. Our Asian and D’Anjou pears will last to December, with apples going a bit longer — but only if they are refrigerated in containers that retain moisture. So we plug in an old, semi-retired refrigerator in August, then clean it out and turn it off in January. We don’t mix fruits and veggies in the same fridge, because fruits give off so much ethylene gas that they can cause vegetable crops to deteriorate in wacky ways.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t exactly approve of second refrigerators, in part because most Americans already maintain more refrigerator space than they need. A more serious issue is the age of many second refrigerators and freezers. Newer models are often three times more efficient than older ones. According to the EPA’s Energy Star statistics, a refrigerator from the 1970s can cost an extra $200 a year to operate, while a 1980s vintage refrigerator may cost $70 more to run compared with a new model.

We will eventually upgrade our elderly, part-time fruit fridge to an efficient Energy Star model, but meanwhile, it earns its keep. Storing apples in a refrigerator often greatly improves their flavor, which is definitely the case with our midseason ‘Enterprise’ apples — three weeks in the fridge changes their flavor from good to spectacular. Sometimes how you store a crop is just as important as how you grow it.

I don’t mean to make self-provisioning sound too easy. Only top-quality produce should be stored, and every season some crop I planned to store either fails or doesn’t make the grade. These losses are soon forgotten as August and September whiz by in a blur, with one food storage project after another. Then October comes and we’re amazed at what we have: a basement brimming with homegrown winter squash, onions and garlic; a well-stocked pantry with organic dried beans, peppers and canned goods; and the fridge and freezer full, save for enough space for two turkeys grown by local farmers. If this is not the good life, I don’t know what is.

20 Vegetables and Fruits That Store for Two Months or More

  • Apple
  • Dry beans
  • Beet
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Celeriac
  • Celery
  • Grain corn
  • Garlic
  • Leek
  • Onion
  • Parsnip
  • Pear
  • Potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Rutabaga
  • Shallot
  • Sweet potato
  • Turnip
  • Winter squash

Find out the full details on how to harvest, cure and store these crops using the charts in How to Harvest, Cure and Store 20 Storage Crops.

Article Source

About the Author

Garden writer Barbara Pleasant provides detailed instructions for food storage, including curing and storing onions, potatoes, leeks, cabbage, apples, squash and other produce that will last all winter.


Jeff Masters on Climate Change & Extreme Weather

Connecting the dots between climate change and extreme weather
Posted by: JeffMasters, 3:15 PM GMT on May 04, 2012 +39
Connecting the dots between human-caused climate change and extreme weather events is fraught with difficulty and uncertainty. One the one hand, the underlying physics is clear–the huge amounts of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide humans have pumped into the atmosphere must be already causing significant changes to the weather. But the weather has huge natural variations on its own, without climate change. So, communicators of the links between climate change and extreme weather need to emphasize how climate change shifts the odds. We’ve loaded the dice towards some types of extreme weather events, by heating the atmosphere to add more heat and moisture. This can bring more extreme weather events like heat waves, heavy downpours, and intense droughts. What’s more, the added heat and moisture can change atmospheric circulation patterns, causing meanders in the jet stream capable of bringing longer-lasting periods of extreme weather. As I wrote in my post this January, Where is the climate headed?, “The natural weather rhythms I’ve grown to used to during my 30 years as a meteorologist have become significantly disrupted over the past few years. Many of Earth’s major atmospheric circulation patterns have seen significant shifts and unprecedented behavior; new patterns that were unknown have emerged, and extreme weather events were incredibly intense and numerous during 2010 – 2011. It boggles my mind that in 2011, the U.S. saw 14 – 17 billion-dollar weather disasters, three of which matched or exceeded some of the most iconic and destructive weather events in U.S. history.

Figure 1. Women who work on a tea farm in Assam, India hold up a dot in honor of Climate Impacts Day (May 5, 2012), to urge people to connect the dots between climate change and the threat to their livelihood. Chai is one of the most consumed beverages in India, but a prolonged dry spell and extreme heat has affected tea plantations in Assam and Bengal with production dropping by 60% as compared to the same period in 2011. Image credit:

May 5: Climate Impacts Day
On Saturday, May 5 (Cinco de Mayo!), the activist group, founded by Bill McKibben, is launching a new effort to “connect the dots between climate change and extreme weather.” They’ve declared May 5 Climate Impacts Day, and have coordinated an impressive global effort of nearly 1,000 events in 100 countries to draw attention to the links between climate change and extreme weather. Their new website aims to get people involved to “protest, educate, document and volunteer along with thousands of people around the world to support the communities on the front lines of the climate crisis.” Some of the events planned for Saturday: firefighters in New Mexico will hold posters with dots in a forest ravaged by wildfires; divers in the Marshall Islands take a dot underwater to their dying coral reefs; climbers on glaciers in the Alps, Andes, and Sierras will unfurl dots on melting glaciers with the simple message: “Melting”; villagers in Northeastern Kenya will create dots to show how ongoing drought is killing their crops; in San Francisco, California, aerial artist Daniel Dancer and the Center for Biological Diversity will work with hundreds of people to form a giant, moving blue dot to represent the threat of sea level rise and ocean acidification; and city-dwellers in Rio de Janeiro hold dots where mudslides from unusually heavy rains wiped out part of their neighborhood. I think its a great way to draw attention to the links between climate change and extreme weather, since the mainstream media coverage of climate change has been almost nil the past few years. A report by Media Matters for America found out that nightly news coverage about climate change on the major networks decreased 72% between 2009 and 2011. On the Sunday shows, 97% of the stories mentioning climate change were about politics in Washington D.C. or on the campaign trail, not about extreme weather or recent scientific reports. You can check out what Climate Impacts Day events may be happening in your area at the website.

Figure 2. Front Street Bridge on the Susquehanna River in Vestal, NY, immediately following the flood of September 8, 2011. Image credit: USGS, New York. In my post, Tropical Storm Lee’s flood in Binghamton: was global warming the final straw? I argue that during September 8, 2011 flood, the Susquehanna River rose twenty feet in 24 hours and topped the flood walls in Binghamton by 8.5 inches, so just a 6% reduction in the flood height would have led to no overtopping of the flood walls and a huge decrease in damage. Extra moisture in the air due to global warming could have easily contributed this 6% of extra flood height.

Also of interest
Anti-coal activists, led by climate scientist Dr. James Hansen of NASA, are acting on Saturday to block Warren Buffett’s coal trains in British Columbia from delivering coal to Pacific ports for shipment overseas. Dave Roberts of Grist explains how this may be an effective strategy to reduce coal use, in his post, “Fighting coal export terminals: It matters”.

The creator of wunderground’s new Climate Change Center, atmospheric scientist Angela Fritz, has a blog post on Friday’s unveiling of the new Heartland Institute billboards linking mass murderers like Charles Manson and Osama Bin Laden to belief in global warming. In Heartland’s description of the billboard campaign, they say, “The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.” The Heartland Institute neglected to mention that the Pope and the Dalai Lama are prominent advocates of addressing the dangers of human-caused climate change.

Jeff Masters

Food, Drought, Famine, & Climate Change


Kelly Rigg

Executive Director, GCCA

Climate Change and Food Security: Out of the Mouths of Babes

Posted: 10/16/11 05:36 PM ET

Climate change skeptics would have you believe that global warming is an abstract theory, a dispute between scientists with differing interpretations of computer models, temperature data and ice measurements. So when the conversation turns to real people facing real hardship on the frontlines of climate change, it’s no surprise that they redirect the conversation back to the abstract.

Take a look at the 171 arguments of climate skeptics compiled by Skeptical Science. You can count on the number of fingers it takes to make a peace sign the arguments about the immediate directly observable impacts of climate change (and one of these is about polar bears).

Today is World Food Day, a perfect moment to reflect on what the very real impacts of climate change mean for those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. It comes at a time when millions of people are struggling to survive in East Africa where the worst drought in 60 years is devastating millions of lives and livelihoods.

Those on the frontlines are convinced that climate change is responsible.

As UN Humanitarian Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, says, “We have to take the impact of climate change more seriously… Everything I’ve heard has said that we used to have drought every 10 years, then it became every five years and now it’s every two years.”

A 2009 report by the World Food Programme, which describes itself as the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger, explains:

By 2050, the number of people at risk of hunger as a result of climate change is expected to increase by 10 to 20 percent more than would be expected without climate change; and the number of malnourished children is expected to increase by 24 million – 21 percent more than without climate change. Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to be the worst affected region.

Think about it. 24 million additional kids — that’s roughly equivalent to a third of US children.

But it’s not just a question of changing climate and weather patterns; it’s also about the resilience of communities to withstand such changes. As Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) explained to the Huffington Post in July, “There’s no question that hotter and drier growing conditions in sub-Saharan Africa have reduced the resiliency of these communities. Absolutely the change in climate has contributed to this problem, without question.”

On that front, it’s not all bad news. Investments in community resilience projects show a promising way forward. See for example the success of the Morulem irrigation project in Kenya originally funded by World Vision more than 10 years ago.

If you’ve ever looked at the labels identifying the origin of the food on the shelves of your local supermarket (grapes from Chile, apple juice from China, rice from Thailand) you’ll know that the global food supply system is complex. In a warming world there will be winners and losers across a range of factors. Higher temperatures and more CO2 in the atmosphere may lead to higher crop yields in some parts of the world, and lower in others. But in an increasingly interconnected world other factors will be equally important and the net result doesn’t bode well.

Creative Commons: International Foundation of Red Cross

Consider these three for example:

to read more and see the video, go to:

Fewer Aphids Found in Organically Farmed Fields

Fewer Aphids in Organic Crop Fields, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (July 13, 2011) — Farmers who spray insecticides against aphids as a preventative measure only achieve a short-term effect with this method. In the long term, their fields will end up with even more aphids than untreated fields. This has been reported by researchers at the Biocenter of the University of Würzburg in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

What’s the status of the biodiversity in differently managed triticale fields? This is what the biologists at the Department of Animal Ecology & Tropical Biology wanted to find out. Triticale is a cross between wheat and rye. The cultivation of this crop is on the rise across the globe, because it delivers good yields even in poor soil conditions.

When comparing conventionally managed crop fields, which were either sprayed with insecticides or were left untreated, Jochen Krauss, Iris Gallenberger and Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter made a discovery, which should catch the attention of every farmer: “According to our results, the preventative application of insecticides against aphids does not produce any advantages even though it consumes a lot of time and money,” Jochen Krauss sums up.

to read more, go to:


Wheat Crops Threatened by Fungus

Years of work loom to save world wheat from fungus

Posted 2011/06/09 at 8:07 pm EDT

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2011 (Reuters) — A devastating wheat fungus is active in 11 countries in Africa and the Middle East, according to scientists striving to develop resistant varieties before the fungus can attack fields around the globe.

A farmer drives a combine to harvest wheat in Zouping county, Shandong province, May 30, 2011. REUTERS/China Daily

Up to 90 percent of the world’s wheat is susceptible to the strain of stem rust, called Ug99, first detected in Uganda in 1999. The oval, brick-red lesions of stem rust sap wheat plants and cut yields by 50 to 70 percent over wide areas and can destroy entire fields

to read more, go to: