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Drought Deepens, But Expected Precipitation Could Help Stabilize Crops, as Derecho Marches Across Central U.S.

Reuters writer Karl Plume reported yesterday that, “The most intense drought to hit the U.S. Midwest farm belt since 2012 deepened over the past week, sapping soil moisture and threatening crop yield potential in the heaviest corn and soybean production areas of the United States.

U.S. Agriculture in Drought. USDA- Office of the Chief Economist (June 29, 2023).

But a series of rain storms forecast over the next two weeks in the southern and central Midwest could help stabilize or improve crop conditions that have been eroding for weeks and recharge soil moisture just ahead of the corn crop’s critical pollination period in late July.

“The improving weather outlook triggered steep breaks in corn and soybean markets this week after concerns about the dry start to the U.S. summer crop season had rallied prices to multi-month highs last week.”

Dow Jones writer Kirk Maltais reported yesterday that, “In the past week, drought conditions have grown slightly worse in the eastern Corn Belt, according to data from the U.S. Drought Monitor. The latest map shows conditions in Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri have become drier, although conditions across the Corn Belt as a whole have stayed widely unchanged. The update comes as rainfall passes through this week, with the 10-day forecast showing high amounts of rainfall in some otherwise-parched regions, which is expected to ease drought worries and eliminate moisture deficits in some areas.”

Reuters writer Naveen Thukral reported today that, “Chicago corn bounced back on Friday, recovering from this week’s deep losses on concerns over dry weather in the U.S. Midwest and positioning ahead of a key acreage report due later in the day.”

Meanwhile, an AccuWeather report from yesterday stated that, “An intense line of destructive thunderstorms known as a derecho wreaked havoc across the central United States on Thursday with hurricane-force winds and possible tornadoes.”

The report explained that, “The cluster of thunderstorms initially fired early Wednesday night over northeastern Colorado and swept across southern Nebraska throughout the night. The storms strengthened over southern Iowa and northern Missouri on Thursday morning and blitzed eastward throughout the day, eventually plowing over Illinois and into Indiana by Thursday afternoon.

“AccuWeather meteorologists declared the storm cluster a derecho early Thursday afternoon.”

“As of 2:30 p.m. CDT Thursday, the highest wind gust from the derecho was 90 mph in Adrian, Illinois, located about 130 miles northwest of St. Louis. Winds of 90 mph are common near the center of a Category 1 hurricane,” the AccuWeather report said.

Chris Oberholtz , Steven Yablonski , Andrew Wulfeck reported yesterday at FoxWeather that, “Meteorologist Andrew Pritchard tracked the storms through the Prairie State and said damage was widespread but not as extensive as the infamous August 2020 Midwest derecho.”

“‘This was not necessarily the same thing that we saw in August 2020, where we had the derecho show come through Iowa and Illinois,’ Pritchard said. ‘That was in an entire league of its own where we had those, in some cases, 100-plus-mph winds that lasted for half an hour or more and just really wears down the crops, the trees, and the infrastructure there … Now, the significant winds that I experienced in Farmer City and that we’ve seen across a lot of central Illinois, they’ve been much more quick passing.'”

Elsewhere, Reuters News reported yesterday that, “The International Grains Council (IGC) on Thursday trimmed its forecast for 2023/24 global corn production by six million tonnes to 1.211 billion tonnes.

“The inter-governmental body also raised its 2023/24 world wheat crop outlook by three million tonnes to 786 million tonnes.”

Also yesterday, Dow Jones News reported that, “Export sales of U.S. grains landed on the low side of analyst forecasts, according to government data.”

“With export sales continuing to be considered weak by analysts, the USDA may reduce its outlook for exports in its next WASDE report, the article said.

And Bloomberg writer Aine Quinn reported yesterday that, “Russia has tightened its hold on the world’s wheat supplies following its invasion of Ukraine, bolstering the Kremlin’s role in global food supply to secure political support and hard currency.

“With Russia’s internal politics in disarray after an aborted armed mutiny and its international standing damaged by the war, grain remains a major source of influence, and Moscow has been expanding its sway over the market at home and abroad.

“Russia Is Tightening its Grip on the World’s Wheat Supply,” by Aine Quinn. Bloomberg News (June 29, 2023).

“With another bumper harvest starting in fertile farmlands like the North Caucasus region, Russia will be the source of one in five cargoes of exported wheat in the season that starts July 1, according to the US Department of Agriculture. By contrast, Ukraine will see its share halve from levels before the invasion to about 5% as production suffers long-term damage from mined fields and broken logistics chains.”

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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