US Midwest corn crop threatened by drought

Prices going up, crop estimates going down as hot weather threatens bumper crop

What was expected to be the largest U.S. corn crop in 75 years is being threatened by significant drought in the Midwest, with parts of five states experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions and nine states with crop conditions deemed poor or very poor in one-fifth to one-half of their fields, according to reports

Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio have been hit the hardest, but some analysts say it’s too early to tell how bad the damage may be, as some of the most important corn-growing areas — Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and western Iowa — have managed to avoid drought conditions. “This is a moving target,” said Darrel L. Good, a professor emeritus of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “But what we know is this: There’s been some permanent and substantive yield reduction already, and we’re on the cusp, depending on the weather, of taking that down quite a bit more.” 

As of July 1, 48 percent of corn crops nationally are in good or excellent condition, down from 56 percent of crops the week ending June 24, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, in Indiana, half of corn crops are designated poor or very poor, and in Illinois, only 26 percent of crops are considered good or excellent.

Corn futures for December were more than 6 percent higher for the first week of July, closing July 3 at $6.74 per bushel. According to analysts, corn could go up even further in the next 10 days, depending on the weather during a crucial growing phase for the corn.