1) How the crop losses continue to grow due to excessive rains.
2) The number of times “ever seen” and “worst” are mentioned.
3) Remember that the USDA is projecting the largest U.S. soy crop on record (at 3.3 billion bushels) and the second-largest corn crop (at 12.9 billion bushels).
(emphasis mine) [my comment]
[Iowa, June 29]
"I'd say this year is one of the most unusual years we've had in the last 20 years," said Don Fry, executive director of the Des Moines County USDA Farm Services Agency. "Because it seems like it rains every second or third day, the ground is constantly kept wet. We've heard a lot of reports from people with wet spots turning up in fields that they and their parents ... don't ever remember being a wet spot."
The combination of constant rain and cool temperatures this spring kept farm fields saturated, making planting difficult and hampering crop growth. Also, frequent rains have rinsed a portion of nitrogen fertilizers from fields and hindered the application of herbicides, all of which cuts into yields, Kester said.
"This spring has just been a terrible struggle," Kester said. "Anybody that mowed hay within the last three weeks probably lost their hay crop because it got wet."
[Texas, July 08]
If not for the triple-digit heat, central Texas rancher Debbie Davis could almost think it was a different season entirely.
"The (pasture) grass looks like it's the dead of winter,'' said Davis, who raises beef cattle and Texas Longhorns northwest of San Antonio. The region is enduring its driest 22-month span going back to 1885. "It's horrible. It's probably the worst I've ever seen.''
[Maine, July 25]
This has been a bad year for dairy farmers: Milk prices have plummeted and rain has prevented them from getting onto their fields to harvest hay. Fertilizer they applied simply washed away in the rain.
The longer hay grows without a cutting, the poorer the nutritional quality and the more money farmers will spend this winter to supplement it. Cornfields are rotting without enough sun or heat to ripen the plants.
"The season is lost," Julie Marie Bickford of the Maine Dairy Industry Association said Friday. "With milk prices so low and this feed disaster on top of it, farmers are like deer in the headlights."
[Maine, July 25]
Hay and corn are critical components of livestock feed, Bickford said. "This stunted corn and alfalfa is forcing farmers to purchase grain and feeds. That is a very bad situation. Prices are extremely high because of the Midwest floods earlier this year. Maine's farmers couldn't come up with a worse situation in their worst dreams."
On Thursday, a 75-year-old former dairy farmer visited the Wright Place in Clinton. He recalled delivering glass bottles of milk and told Brian Wright that he never remembered a rainier summer.
"This is unreal," Wright said. He cut back from 700 acres of feed corn to 600 acres to trim his budget this year, and now he may not get to harvest much of that.
[New York, Aug 14]
WEST WINFIELD - A panel of political representatives and aides sat for over three hours at a rally Friday in Mount Markham Middle School gym as over 200 upstate New York dairy farmers pleaded for action on a range of issues crippling their industry.
One after another dairy farmers and others involved in the industry took a microphone to berate county, state and federal representatives from throughout the region.
Some were brought to tears describing their inability to make a living, a few simply screamed in frustration and others demanded answers. But the dire situation facing the men and women speaking was painfully clear.
“We are in a disaster,” declared Ken Dibbell, of Chenango County.
“The people who feed the nation can' t feed themselves,” Gretchen Maine, a dairy farmer from Waterville, “what' s wrong this picture.”
The time frames for both solutions seemed in contrast from farmers need for help, with many emotionally explaining they have either already abandon businesses or are on the brink.
“I don' t think they get the message yet,” Tewksbury said, referring politicians unaware of the uncharacteristic display of emotions from prideful farmers. They don' t have until 2010. They have the next couple of months to decide if they can stay in business, he said.
[South Dakota, August 21]
Mark Tubbs, who ranches in southwest South Dakota and inside the Wyoming border, plans to sell about a third of his cows this fall after putting up a sixth of the hay he usually does. He had been expecting a decent cutting — until the grasshoppers started chomping.
"This year we had a good start but they just took it," said Tubbs, 57. "The grasshoppers have taken it down to the dirt. They've eaten everything but the cactus."
[South Dakota, August 21]
That's little comfort to David Kane, a rancher near Sheridan, Wyo., who said the grasshoppers on his ranch are the worst they've been in more than 20 years. Kane already sold off part of his herd because the pests ate his cows' food.
"They're devastating," Kane said. "They were so bad here on the ranch that we sprayed our meadows because the second-cutting of alfalfa wouldn't green up because they were eating it as fast as it was trying to grow."
"We've had one good year in the last 10 years, and that was in 2005," he said. "That's the problem we're having with the grasshoppers. It's just taking the will and the heart out of us."
[South Dakota, September 2]
Butte County, which borders Wyoming just north of the Black Hills, is an area that's been hit hard, said Steve Smeenk, a farmer and rancher who is a member of the county commission.
"Grasshoppers are just about as bad as most people around here have ever seen them," said Smeenk, 61. "There's tremendous numbers. The ground moves when you walk."
"All of a sudden, they just exploded," Smeenk said. "I've killed millions and millions of them, but I haven't killed enough to make a dent. There's billions and billions of them out there."
[Mississippi, September 22]
“They are deteriorating in the field by the hour,” Glenn Mast, a Brooksville farmer, reported of his corn, soybean and cotton crops. “Some of the crops have sprouted and are regrowing and some are just plain rotting. What percentage we don' t even know at this point; it' s too wet to go out and check.
“This is very unusual,” he added, noting he' s been farming for 40 years. “It' s always hard to say which is the worst, but this is as bad as I' ve seen it for this time of year.” [Mississippi then proceeded to have a month and a half of the record rain.]
[Oklahoma, September 22]
Continuing showers are further fueling concerns about Leflore County farmers' harvests.
Jerry Singleton, an agent with the Leflore County Extension Service, said farmers are concerned about this year' s crop. Heavy rains have kept them out of the fields, and many are uncertain about their yields.
“A lot of the farmers out here are really starting to hope for the rain to let up,” Singleton said. “The amount of rain we have been seeing is usually associated with hurricanes.”
“It' s so hard to tell what is being affected by this rainfall, and I think most farmers are really just wanting to get out there and see what is going on and just how much this has affected their crop,” Singleton said. “It could be a loss in yield, or it may be a loss in quality. We' ll have to wait and see.”
[Oklahoma, September 22]
Darrin Dodds, Extension cotton specialist, said cotton farmers have to worry about boll lock and boll rot, both of which can cause devastating losses in both yield quality and quantity.
“These hot, humid conditions just provide the perfect environment for disease to develop,” Dodds said.
The wet weather also causes other problems.
“A lot of the farmers are prepared to start defoliating, but they have to wait because of the rain,” Dodds said. “It' s possible that with all this moisture, seeds may start sprouting in the boll.”
When that happens, Dodds said, it not only makes a seed worthless for resale but also risks staining the crop.
“This weather pattern is creating a lot of problems for farmers across the board,” Dodds said. “It' s a problem for corn, cotton and soybean farmers. It' s hard to find an optimistic side to this recent weather, although too much rain is usually better than none.”
[Mississippi, September 23]
After a spring and summer marked by prolonged wet and dry spells that hampered some of the state's crops, fall is beginning with waterlogged soybeans.
Bolton soybean farmer Bobby Mashburn hasn't been able to assess the steady rain's impact on his crop - it's been too wet for him to do any serious work in his fields.
But he's hoping for a weather let-up soon, or else he says his yield likely will be less than he projected, perhaps up to 20 percent less.
"They're deteriorating each day it rains," he says of his soybeans. "It hasn't dried out enough for us to get out and take a look."
[Arkansas, September 23]
For area farmers, the excess water has led to reduced yield and quality in their crops, according to Don Plunkett, an agent with the Pine Bluff office of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.
“It' s just a nasty situation,” Plunkett said. “We' ve got farmers that have tried to harvest this week, and we' ve had just a couple of days of drying time. We are seeing a lot of damage.”
Rice farmers have been particularly hard hit, Plunkett said.
“We' ve got some rice that' s on the ground, and that makes it extra slow to harvest,” he said. “It just really costs a lot of time and manpower. It' s just a slow go to get that stuff off the ground.”
Plunkett added that rice and corn have been “sprouting.”
“That simply means that the grains are trying to make new plants,” Plunkett said. “That affects the quality of the crop.”
[Arkansas, September 23]
Don Plunkett, Jefferson County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, said soybean growers and consultants are also complaining about weather-related problems.
"One is that the rain stopped harvest," he said. "Second is that the rains have prevented timely fungicide applications as well as insecticide applications.
"A third problem is soybeans are splitting along the suture of the pod and beginning to sprout. These split pods also allow infections."
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, only five percent of the soybean crop had been harvested in Arkansas, some of which was affected by soybean rust and an infestation of aphids.
Unfortunately for Lawrence County farmers, rains are forecast through Sunday.
[Texas, September 23]
Bruce Wetzel has been a farmer in Sherman all his life, learning from his father back in the 1960's.
He's seen all the ups and downs of producing wheat and corn in Texoma, and he says this was one of the worst years for corn.
"All the rain we got back in April and May, we got 20 inches of rain in a two week period there, really just damaged our corn. Our corn just never quite recovered from too much water,” said Wetzel.
Wetzel says he lost about 50% of his wheat and corn crops this harvest season, a trend that farmers are experiencing across Texoma.
[Louisiana, September 24]
"There are a lot of beans out there ready to be cut," said Lecompte-area farmer Dale Schexnyder, who fortunately was able to get his corn crop harvested despite the frequent rains. "This isn't helping the cotton or the beans, either."
"Right now it's harvest time, it should be dry," Schexnyder said. "If we keep getting these little, small showers, it's going to be hard. Hopefully, next week it will dry up."
[Louisiana, September 24]
Three months ago, area farmers were praying for rain. Now, some are praying for it to stop.
"We had significant yield loss due to dryness in the summer," said Matt Martin, county agent with the Rapides Parish office of the LSU AgCenter. "Now, we're looking at the possibility of seeing some quality loss due to too much rain at harvest."
"Right now, all the farmers are kind of wishing it would quit," Martin said. "We have soybeans ready to harvest, we have cotton ready to harvest, and we have a little bit of corn ready to harvest. This rain is preventing that."
[New Jersey, September 26]
South Jersey farmers are coping with heavy crop losses after steady summer rains saturated fields, creating an environment ripe for overgrown weeds, rot and disease.
The downpours damaged crops, from tomatoes, green bell peppers and corn, to barley, peaches and watermelon, decimating whole crops or severely reducing yield.
"The rains have just killed me this year," said Tucker Gant, 51, a vegetable and fruit farmer in Elk, who estimates his total losses this year at nearly $220,000.
"Nobody has ever seen rain as drastic as this year, even talking to old-time farmers," said Grasso, a third-generation farmer who estimates losses so far at roughly $50,000.
"It's never been that bad as far as I can remember," said Gant, pointing to water pooling in a field as he drove his pickup truck along a bumpy dirt trail toward 35 acres of barley overrun by tall weeds. "I have never seen water lay there more than two days. It should have been harvested, but you can't harvest weeds taller than barley."
[Louisiana, September 27]
Farmers that delayed stinkbug apps for two weeks due to weather will notice considerable damage. How much will be left to the discretion of the tester at the elevator. Some we hulled out had over 80% damage early last week. But we have also done this earlier this year and the soybeans graded less than 10% damaged. We cannot manage the numbers of stinkbugs that are now entering soybean fields. Threshold levels are returning too quickly. Some farmers are talking about planting more late beans next year. Better figure 5 — 8 apps for stinkbugs in that budget.
No soybean is safe from stinkbugs as long as it remains in the field. High numbers can harm even soybeans at R7.
[Mississippi, October 2]
Harvest season rains have robbed soybean growers of strong yields and bean quality, reducing profits in an already challenging year.
“We were harvesting a beautiful crop with outstanding yields before the rains came the last two weeks of September,” said Trey Koger, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “Now that farmers are finally back in fields, we are seeing average yield losses of 5 percent to 10 percent.”
In addition to the yield losses, damage estimates average between 5 percent and 20 percent.
“The amount of damage the crop received is extremely variable,” Koger said. “We' re seeing damage from 2 percent to 80 percent. You couple these numbers with the yield losses, and farmers are not seeing as good a harvest as they anticipated just a few weeks ago.”
[Mississippi, October 2]
Rainy weather is not the only thing attacking the state' s soybean crop. Jeff Gore, a Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station research entomologist, said a new, smaller but more aggressive feeding species of stinkbugs has moved into the state.
“The red-banded stinkbug is slowly creeping its way up our state from Louisiana,” Gore said. “We had them in low levels last year and had to treat a couple of fields for these stinkbugs, but they are a lot more widespread this year on the later-planted soybeans.”
Gore said producers have sprayed a significant number of acres for the red-banded stinkbugs. Existing insecticides are effective, but they break down in six to 11 days and the bugs re-infest quickly.
“Either you spray for these stinkbugs or you' re not going to harvest beans,” Gore said. “Since you have to spray more frequently and at a little higher rate, you have to make a management assessment according to how the beans are looking when the stinkbugs move in.”
“I' m afraid this one has the potential to be a lot more of a problem than rust,” Gore said. “They appear to be well-established through most areas of Mississippi now, and it' s likely to be an annual problem that will get worse before it gets better.”
[Louisiana, October 8]
"It's killing us," said Ouachita Parish producer Gary Mathes. "We cut some beans a week ago that we had to sell at a salvage price of $3 a bushel."
Soybean prices have been hovering near $9 a bushel.
"We fought a short corn crop, but we had one heck of a bean crop and the rain is taking it away from us," Mathes said.
[Louisiana, October 8]
Venoy Kinnaird said his farm has been drenched by about 20 inches of rain since Sept. 12.
"I've got some beans that I won't cut; they're not salvageable," Kinnaird said. "And I've got some sweet potatoes that are halfway out of the ground. Cotton has taken a terrible hit, too, even though we don't have that much planted around here this year.
"We're absolutely waterlogged. What's really bad is we're coming off of a disaster last fall."
[Alabama, October 10]
Three weeks ago Jamie Tate thought his 200-acre cotton crop would be the best he's ever harvested from his family's Shelby County farm.
Then near-constant rains fell across the area in September and early this month, dashing his hope for a bumper crop.
"It went from being the best cotton crop I've ever harvested to one of the worst in three weeks," Tate said. "I'm in shock."
[Alabama, October 10]
John DeLoach, a farmer from Vincent, said the large number of days without sunshine has hurt his crop more than the excessive rain. Many of his soybeans were hit by rot and mold because they couldn't dry out.
"They just stayed damp," DeLoach said.
DeLoach recently harvested 90 of his 500 acres in soybeans. About 55 percent of them were classified as damaged. That cost him about $7,000 or more, he said.
[Iowa, October 13]
Edwards and fellow farmer Tim Burrack of Arlington in Fayette County said corn in their fields had heavier moisture than usual, the product of continued wet, cold weather and lack of sunshine.
"We're seeing white mold in the soybeans here, and it could cut the yields down into about 40 bushels per acre," Burrack said. "The farmers here were expecting soybean yields in the mid-50s, maybe 60 bushels per acre."
[Crop Comments, October 26]
10/26 - East Central North Dakota: Total stand still in East Central North Dakota. Too wet to dig beets, too wet to combine soys, 1/2 or more of the dry beans left and too wet. Sunflower moisture went from 17 two weeks ago to 27 yesterday. And weather man says snow for Thursday, Saturday and Sunday of next week...Man are we in trouble...
10/26 - Cedar County, Neb.: Sunshine is getting to be an abnormal object in the sky. We received 2" of rain Tuesday thru Friday and raining this mourning. Harvest is slow, we have two soybean fields out over the scale 69bu.irrigated and 50 on dryland well above average. Corn harvest looks to be great but very wet irr.250 dryland 200. Praying for sun and warm weather. Be careful; safety first!!!!
10/26 - Floyd County, Iowa: We had 4 inches of rain Oct.20 thru Oct.24. Most are 60% to 70% done with beans, of which most were harvested too wet. Corn will vary from 21% to 38% in one pass across the field, rather unusual for 100 day corn planted before April 24th. Yields good, reports of dried corn test weight 48 to 53 lbs. Corn harvesting is practically non existent.
10/26 - Bond County, South Central Illinois: Is this really possible? We have had the wettest couple of months in history. Most corn is still 30% and they are calling for 2-3 more inches of rain this week. We are losing crop as we speak. Lodging in the corn is starting to take place. Any suggestions? I am ready to punt!!!!
10/27 - Northwest Minnesota, along Canadian Border: We had a hard killing frost Sept 27th and now the corn has ear rot on 75 - 90% of the cobs. Federal Crop is releasing thousands of acres and corn choppers are going. There won't be many fields combined in NW MN. The moisture is 45%. Lots of beans left. Moisture is stuck at 18 - 20%.
10/28 - Far Northern Illinois: Many fields of soybeans untouched some corn being picked but hard to find corn under 30%. Mold is present on almost every ear I looked at yesterday. Stalk quality is starting to slip quickly in some fields. There simply is not enough drying capacity to harvest this crop with any speed. Most guys have drying capacity for a half day of harvesting and two big 12 row combines can bury the local elevator at 32% corn. Feels like a real disaster is just around the corner with any type of wind or snow event. We will be talking about the fall of 2009 for many years to come.
10/28 - Lancaster, Pa.: We are wet and getting wetter. Harvest is at a standstill with 3 inches of rain in the past week. Corn moisture still running in the upper 20's. Quality will soon become an issue as well. It will be a challenge to get the remaining acres of small grain planted.
10/28 - Ramsey County, Northeast North Dakota: Rain again with more rain & snow in the forecast for the next few days. We have only harvested 3 partial days in the past month. Pinto beans are less than 25% harvested, moisture has been over twenty on most, what is left will only be a salvage operation. Soybeans are less than 10% harvested, and they were upper teens to over twenty moisture. We had not planned to even try the corn until after Thanksgiving, may harvest it in the spring, did a lot last year and was pleasantly surprised by the increase in test weight and minimal loss.
10/29 - Clark County, Ark.: If there were any doubts about how nasty it is down here this ought to answer those questions.
-- Clark County, Ark.
10/30 - Lafayette County Wis.: WET, WET, WET. I guess we are all in the same boat. We are way, way behind. Corn is developing green mold. Broker says when weather straightens out there is a big crop out there. Problem is will the sun ever shine again? Stay safe everyone…a safe harvest is a good harvest.
10/30 - Nebraska Panhandle: Guess we don't have to worry about the irrigated corn blowing over before harvest, the snow is holding it up!
-- Nebraska Panhandle
10/30 - Buena Vista County, Northwest Iowa: Raining here again, close to 10 inches now in October, Still some beans out in the fields here, I just got done, Yields decent in the 50's which is normal. Some have gave up on beans and started corn, most of it from what I've heard is anywhere from 20% to 40% moisture and yields from 120 to 220, with very low test weights. Stalk Rot now a real concern & some guys are finding green snap they didn't know they had, those yields cut in half. I believe this harvest, when it's over, if ever will be one, we all will want to forget!
10/30 - Bond County, South Central Illinois: UN-FREAKIN-BELIEVABLE.
[Crop Comments, November 2]
11/2 - Winnebago County, North Iowa: 9.8 inches of rain last 35 days -Winnebago River is bank-full slowing drainage-beans 40% harvested -corn -5% at most. Corn running from 24-30%. Won't turn a wheel here to at least Wednesday/Thursday on sandy ground. Local elevator can dry only 25,000 bu daily of 25% corn. Almost all reporting points in Iowa are showing from 2x to 3x normal rainfall from history in past 30 days. Tow ropes are sold out. Fields will look like war zones before this December harvest is over!
11/2 - Houston County, Minn.: Help me out here. I am confused. Just finished reading the crop comments. No harvest progress, beans to wet to combine or frosted while green. Corn molding, too wet to combine and many reports of very low test weight. Snow burying corn in Colorado and Nebraska. Flooding burying crops in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, etc., etc. Was at the local elevator yesterday. They are in a bind because they have contracts to fill but either no beans are coming in or they have to reject them because of high moisture. Biggest crop ever coming in??? Where?
[Missouri, Illinois, November 2]
The autumn monsoons are hard to figure, said Benjamin Sittrell, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in suburban St. Louis.
"Typically during the late-year period, it's our driest portion of the year," Sittrell said. "To see such astronomically high amounts of precipitation, where we got several inches above the previous record levels, is very abnormal.
Sittrell said thousands of acres of farmland are under water, particularly in the flat areas of southern and western Illinois, where the Illinois, Ohio and Kaskaskia rivers are among several that are flooding.
[Arkansas, November 3]
"It's bad," was the way Ashley County Cooperative Extension Agent-Agriculture Kevin Norton described the status of Ashley County's crops this past week.
Overall, Norton said, he expects farmers to carry over a lot of debt this year. "I am afraid we will see a shakeup," he said. "It will be months before we see the full magnitude of how bad this fall has been."
[Iowa, November 3]
Farmer's Coop Association General Manager Randy Broesder has been involved in farming for a long time, but he can't remember a harvest season that's been as scary as this one.
“Some of the guys have told me that harvest hasn't been this late since 1962, and that's a long time ago,” Broesder said.
[Iowa, November 3]
Darwin Luedtke, a grain merchandiser for the North Central Cooperative office in Woden, said this harvest has been a major battle for farmers.
“I haven't seen anything like this in 37 years,” Luedtke said. “The fields are wet, beans and corn aren't as mature as they should be because of the cooler weather this summer, and it's going to cost farmers money to dry the crop. It's been a very difficult harvest.”
[Crop Comments, November 3]
11/3 - Central Nebraska: 12 in snow just melted. Fields a saturated and corm is wet with little hope of drying down because of freeze before maturity. The USDA needs to wake up and smell the roses.
11/3 - St. Clair County, Southwestern Illinois: We picked up a mere 14 inches of rain in October. Not only was this the wettest October on record, it was the fourth wettest month ever recorded in our area. Saturday brought about panic for guys farming in the bottoms along the rivers. Many were doing anything possible to get their crops out before any of the rivers crested. It is slow going for everyone as you cannot bring any trucks, wagons, or grain carts into any fields for fear of burying them. The neighbor down the road buried his combine and it took two Caterpillars to get him out. I would put corn harvest at maybe 8 percent complete as some folks have never started due to high moisture and no on the farm drying. Beans are maybe 30 percent complete. I guess we will see how much the beans rotted in the next few days. We are hoping for beans to go on Wednesday or Thursday in this area. It was 70 degrees today and we could use another six weeks of this weather. Many nervous folks around here and who can blame them. Corn yields are running anywhere from 170-240 and beans are running 35-54. Be safe everyone and best of luck with your harvest.
11/4 - Franklin Country, North-Central Iowa: Corn at 28%, we have maybe 10% harvested in this area. The last load of beans I took in was 14.2%, we have around 33% harvested around here. Yields for beans going low-50's to low-60's. Corn yields- only God knows. I would say we will be down around 25 bu from 2004 record yields; probably 190-195 will catch it this year. Certainly no record yield in my part of Iowa as the USDA is saying. Quality will be a big issue this year; I see a lot of corn getting dumped, rather than stored. The old-timers are saying they have not seen a harvest like this for many years and I hope we never see another one like this one for 30 years.
[Arkansas, November 4]
And further downstream in near Des Arc, the crest is not expected until Saturday or Sunday. Farmers there are paying the big price. Five-hundred acres of Doyle Burnett's soybeans are already underwater.
THV's Mike Duncan asked Burnett, "What are you going to do with that? Just let it go I guess", Burnett replied. "It will be gone. I don't see any chance of the river coming back down anytime soon. So I think they're totally gone."
[Arkansas, November 4]
“As long as the weather holds, guys will be going 24/7,” Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, said Wednesday. “They were harvesting around my house last night ‘til around 9 p.m.”.
Beyond the harvest, there is anxiety about the future for some farmers.
“Some growers expect to go out of business in this region, based on the heavy damage to their soybean and cotton crops,” Ross said.
[Mississippi, November 5]
Hartwell Huddleston returned the extra combine he bought to help harvest what looked to be one of his best soybean crops ever.
After two months with little letup in rain, he figures he got five days' of work out of it, and one was spent just looking for dry ground to cut. And the quality of some of the crop he did bring in from his northwest Mississippi fields was so rough, an elevator refused truckloads.
"We've had a lot of rainy years, but this one puts those to shame," said Huddleston, who also sells crop insurance. "If a person's a farmer you start to think, 'Where am I going to sleep? How am I going to feed my children?'"
[Mississippi, November 5]
Stephen Logan was weighing whether to tear up his water-logged fields to get at a cotton crop speckled in places with mold, mildew and stains. He said he got 28.1 inches of rain on his northwest Louisiana farm last month, more than he said he's seen in some entire years, and the shorter days have meant less sunlight to dry things out.
"This was shaping up to be one of the best cotton crops we ever had, but it's absolutely rotted away on the stalk," Logan said. "It's very frustrating and humbling, to say the least."
[Mississippi, November 5]
In Mississippi, farmer Andy Clark doesn't know what he'll do. He put everything this year into sweet potatoes — an expensive-to-produce crop that in a good year can yield strong returns.
This wasn't a good year. Delays in getting into the fields meant potatoes rotting in the wet soil, and even if one were lucky to harvest some, odds were good — given all the rain — they'd rot in the storage house. And it's hard to justify the labor costs for that, he said.
"It's really going to be hard to sit down and talk with the bank. There's probably not going to be any way to persuade them to give you any more money," he said. "At this point, you're probably going to have to ask them to give you a little more time to pay them back."
Of the 82 acres he'd planted in central Mississippi, he'd harvested about four. His side business, hauling potatoes, "is shot."
[Arkansas, November 5]
Dollar amounts have yet to be placed on crop damages in Lafayette and Miller counties, but estimates by the University of Arkansas Extension Service indicate the losses will be tremendous, especially for soybeans.
The grain elevator companies are turning down soybeans because the damage is “too severe,” said Joe Vestal, Lafayette County Extension agent, staff chair. “We can' t put a dollar amount on the damage yet, but we' ve had lots of damage. It will be tremendous for soybeans. Most of the soybeans ready to be cut, before the rain started in September, will probably be a total loss." About 70 percent of the loads to grain elevators are damaged.
[Alabama, Georgia, north Florida, November 6]
Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture Ron Sparks is calling it a “potential crisis” — the rainy weather conditions throughout most of September and October that have frustrated growers who were eyeing pretty good cotton, peanut, soybean and corn crops.
The same holds true for producers in Georgia and north Florida, where harvest has been delayed by almost continuous rainfall, during what is usually the driest months of the year.
“Prior to September, many producers were expecting to harvest a bumper crop and were very optimistic for the upcoming harvest season,” says Sparks. “Uncommon and unfavorable precipitation during September and October have degraded various crops and caused poor harvesting conditions, which caused the harvest to be behind schedule by around four to six weeks.”
The major crops affected by the recent rainfall are cotton, soybeans, corn and peanuts, says the Commissioner. “Reports indicate that our state is in dire need of dry weather within the next two weeks, which may eliminate a potential state disaster [Area was then hit my 5+ inches of rains from Topical Storm Ida],” he said in early November. “Producers are already suffering from heavy September and October rainfall and dry conditions will not eliminate damage that has already taken place to crops across the state. Many producers are experiencing a sharp decrease in crop yield, lower grading, and crop damage from recent rainfall.”
“The bottom line is that Alabama producers are uncertain as to what the commodity markets will bring forth and where agriculture in our state is going,” says Sparks. “The recent weather conditions over the past two months will definitely have a negative impact on Alabama' s crop harvest.”
William Birdsong, agronomist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center in southwest Alabama, reported that wet and rainy conditions continued to delay harvest for row crops. Cotton yields and lint quality continued to suffer as a result of the wet conditions, he said. Less than 5 percent had been harvested in his area, and this could go down as the worst crop in years if the rain does not subside.
[Mississippi, November 8]
Ray Mosby can't remember tougher times -- and he's not talking about the newspaper business.
For 16 years, his weekly Deer Creek Pilot has chronicled the ups and downs of Mississippi's Issaquena and Sharkey counties, about 175 miles south of Memphis.
Although his 130-year-old newspaper is small, with a circulation of only 1,500, its editor has won state and national recognition for his community-minded journalism.
Lately, though, the news has been discouraging.
The last manufacturing plant in Sharkey County, the Stonecraft tile factory that employed about 70 at one time, closed up shop earlier this year. And recent heavy rains have damaged or destroyed most of the area's cash crops: Soybeans were left to rot in waterlogged fields, and ready-to-harvest cotton is deteriorating as the rains keep coming.
In a community where agriculture is the main source of capital, that spells calamity.
"I've never seen a place that needed as desperately a dose of good news as this place," says Mosby, 58.
[Kansas, November 09]
In far southwestern Kansas, combines are moving furiously through fields at lightning speed. Cory Kinsley, vice president of risk management for Conestoga Energy in Liberal, Kansas, says harvest likely will be done by about the middle of next week. Even better, yields, quality and moisture have all been great.
Others in our area, though, have been less fortunate and are still waiting for fields to dry down. After weeks of constant rain, fog and drizzle, the soil may still be too wet to support heavy machinery. Some fields are still flooded and won' t be drying out any time soon. It likely won' t be until much later this winter that those fields get harvested — if ever. Some portions of fields may ultimately be abandoned if they' re still too wet in the weeks ahead.
Field losses in wet fields are also mounting from lodging. As corn and milo stalks soften and break over in the wind due to the excessive moisture, more bushels inevitably end up on the ground instead of in the combine. That means more field losses long term if harvest drags out any longer.
[Alabama, November 10]
What had started as a good season for cotton could be a complete loss for some farmers if heavy rains hit fields before harvest, said Richard Petcher, agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service.
"It's been a 30 percent loss so far in southwest Alabama, and more rain could make it 40 to 50 percent," Petcher said Monday. "Some fields are already a 100 percent loss."
Financial damage from Ida could be in the millions of dollars for Alabama farmers, he said. Rains have delayed harvests by about three weeks affecting not only cotton but also leaving some peanut crops vulnerable to early frosts.
"The majority of the cotton crop is still in the fields," he said. "Peanuts are about 60 percent harvested. There's been concern about rain, but now it's almost panic."
Soybeans have also been hurt by rain, with crops rotting and sprouting in the fields, Petcher said.
[North Florida, November 11]
Preliminary reports show that Tropical Storm Ida caused or heavily contributed to millions of dollars in losses on Escambia County' s farms.
“Agricultural losses are significant for peanuts, soybeans, hay, and cotton,” said Suzette Cooper, Farm Services Agency. The damage, she said, was not from Ida' s winds, but from four to seven inches of rain in a 12 hour period. That rain only served to further the crop losses from heavy rains in October.
“With all of the rain, there is some terrible looking cotton,” according to Libbie Johnson, Escambia County Extension University of Florida IFAS agent. “There is one field I know of on Highway 97 that was so pretty Saturday and Sunday. Some of it was harvested, and now the rest is basically ruined.”
[Mississippi, November 12]
"We're seeing catastrophic losses," Andy Prosser, a spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, said in a phone interview.
Ida swept in from the Gulf of Mexico into neighboring Alabama on Tuesday. Mississippi was spared a direct hit but still got an unwelcome soaking.
"We got a few counties in east Mississippi that did get a lot of rain. Of course any more rain at this point is not good in terms of crop harvest," Prosser said.
[Arkansas, November 12]
On Nov. 4, Gus Wilson took a sample of soybeans with 100 percent damage.
“It was the first time I' ve seen that,” says the Chicot County, Ark., Extension staff chair. “The situation here is bad, bleak. We' ll be lucky to make half the crop we' ve made in the last three to four years. That' s strictly due to the weather.”
Chicot County in extreme southeast Arkansas has caught huge rains all fall. Now, watching crops deteriorate, Wilson says he' s not seen “a group of growers who' ve been more discouraged. Those who were planning to plant wheat may be out of luck. If there' s wheat planted and emerged in Chicot County, I don' t know where it' s at.”
Faced with a seemingly unceasing deluge in 2009, veteran farmers are struggling to come up with a similar year in the past.
“My father is 82 years old and he' s farmed 55 to 60 years,” says Wilson. “He says this is the worst harvest season he' s ever seen. Out of his career, he said only one year comes close — he can' t remember if it was in the late 1950s or early 1960s.
My reaction: 2009 is the worse harvest many farmers have ever seen.
USDA' s latest estimates for the 2009 soybean crop
Don' t worry about all the depressing news above. After all, the USDA increased its estimated 2009 soybean crop to a record-breaking 3.3 billion bushels this month! (HEAVY SARCASM)
Soybeans for Beans: Area Harvested, Yield, and Production by State
and United States, 2008 and Forecasted November 1, 2009
USDA 2009 Estimates
Conclusion: There are two possibilities:
1) The USDA numbers above are correct, and drought, colder than normal summers, disease outbreaks, insects infestations, and excessive rainfall are the secret to magically producing record breaking crops. In this case, I suggest we artificially recreate the conditions experienced this year by US farmers so they can continue producing such record crops.
2) The USDA is blatantly lying, and its numbers are miles away from reality.