U.S. Midwest Floods Delay Corn Sowing After Drought Curbed Crop

Rain in the northern U.S. Midwest last week spurred flooding along rivers as far south as Tennessee, delaying corn planting a year after drought cut production of the grain to a six-year low.

Areas of Iowa and Illinois, the largest U.S. corn-growing states, were under flood warnings today along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and tributaries, National Weather Service data show. Flood warnings stretched from Michigan to northern Arkansas and Tennessee. Crests already reached records along parts of the Des Plaines and Illinois rivers in Illinois, and the Mississippi River is at moderate to major flood stages across Missouri, AccuWeather Inc. said in an online statement.

Storms on April 17-18 in the northern Midwest dropped 5.4 inches (14 centimeters) of rain on Chicago and as much as 6 inches on parts of eastern Iowa, spurring floods along rivers further south, AccuWeather said. Corn planting in the largest U.S. producing states was 2 percent complete as of April 14, behind last year’s pace of 16 percent, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.

“The cold, rainy weather is of course reducing the sum of corn acreage that shall be planted each day of delay, while almost certainly increasing the sum of acreage to be planted to soybeans,” economist Dennis Gartman wrote today in his daily Gartman Letter. Soybeans, also cultivated in the Midwest, can be sown later than corn.

Corn futures for delivery in July fell 1.2 percent to $6.255 a bushel at 5:18 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, while soybeans for the same delivery month declined 0.7 percent to $13.7325 a bushel. Both crops rose to records last year as the U.S. had its worst drought since the 1930s.

The past U.S. corn harvest totaled 10.78 billion bushels, the least since the 2006-07 season, according to the USDA. The agency said in February the next season’s crop might rebound to a record 14.53 billion bushels.

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