How weather challenges this growing season might affect crop production


How weather challenges this growing season might affect crop production

A climatologist says it remains to be seen how much of the U.S. corn crop will be impacted by weather this year.

Al Dutcher with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says the Eastern Corn Belt should offset losses in the Great Plains. “Most of Iowa and points off to the east, they’ve had sufficient fall and spring moisture during this growing season.  Then in theory, they should, unless they get some exceptionally warm and dry conditions in the next few weeks, they should come out above trend line yields.  The question is how much.”

But, he tells Brownfield, he’s concerned about other areas. “We’re seeing some problems in parts of Illinois.  We’ve had pockets of Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas and Missouri.  But, all of these little knicks and cuts could add up to something substantial particularly if our irrigated fields in Nebraska come in way below expectations.  That could put a little fire under the market’s butt.” 

Dutcher says there’s been extensive damage to center-pivot irrigation from widespread winds in Nebraska, which could impact crop production.  “Even the in fields, in circle, were damaged to some extent.  We don’t have a good, clear picture on how many of those fields were compromised.” 

Dutcher says drought-like conditions east of the Mississippi won’t have much of an impact. “The core of that dryness to me was in the Kentucky and Tennessee area.  It got a little bit into Southern Ohio. If you look at their relative contributions in the area it encompasses, we’re probably talking about less than 1 percent of the total U.S. corn production.” 

Brownfield interviewed Dutcher at Nebraska Extension’s Field Day in Concord at the Haskall Ag Lab.

Al Dutcher, UNL Climatologist: