Clever manipulation of the grain market
A second straight year of flash drought conditions has much of the U.S. corn crop in a very shaky state going into midsummer.
As recently as June 1, the crop appeared on its way to break all records, but now is on the brink of disaster over much of the central, eastern and southern Midwest.
The turnaround has been quick and brutal. As recently as March, less than 30% of the Midwest was judged to have drought conditions, according to the weekly Drought Monitor.
However, by mid-June, more than 70% of the region was judged to be in some phase of drought. These dire circumstances are highlighted in almost the entire states of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.
The speed of such a development fits the description of "flash drought." The term first came up during the 2011 crop season, when Midwest drought indicators went from zero to moderate drought in just six weeks -- from early July to early August.
During that stretch, intense heat combined with very dry cond itions to produce the same impact that usually develops over a three- to six-month timeframe.
A similar pattern is in effect this year. Rainfall since June 1 has been well under average from central Iowa east to Ohio. Des Moines has had just 50% of its typical June rain; Cedar Rapids, Iowa 15%; Decatur, Ill. 18%; Champaign, Ill. 65%; Indianapolis 2%; and Dayton, Ohio 39%.
What's more, a generally very warm weather trend going back to October 2011 brought on some additional effects besides allowing corn planting to take place at least two weeks ahead of average.
The entire plant population -- including weeds -- got a quicker start to the growing season, which has led to growing plants using soil moisture earlier.
"We have seen an additional month of growing weather versus normal," said Nebraska state climatologist Al Dutcher.
"The impact of this, with these above-normal temperatures and lackluster precipitation, is to essentially extract available water out of the soil profile."
What caused this situation is not a long-lasting, single event. Telvent DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino has noticed one general characteristic in the past six weeks...
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.