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Weather Poses Significant Risk to U.S. Corn Crop Entering Critical Pollination Phase


BERWYN, PA, July 1, 2020 — After last year’s delayed start to the season, planting of the 2020 U.S. corn crop brought with it quite a bit of optimism for producers across the Heartland.  Now, according to Planalytics AgriBusiness Weather group, that optimism may have tempered somewhat as a combination of hot, dry conditions have taken hold from the Dakotas south to Missouri and east to Ohio.

“No sooner did seed get in the ground when an unusually cold pattern set up that continued through the first two weeks of May”, says Jeffrey Doran, Planalytics AgriBusiness Meteorologist and Director, Specialized Support and Services. “Sub-freezing temperatures were reported as far south as the Missouri Valley and Mid-South regions that slowed crop development.  By the end of May, the pattern reversed itself bringing surges of strong heat that have continued into June.  Unfortunately, precipitation has been hit or miss with drought intensity increasing in recent weeks from the Plains to portions of Illinois and Indiana,” Doran adds.

Market analysts have begun to speculate whether there will be a “weather bump” that will affect commodity prices this summer as they did in 2017.  “Corn prices jumped 40 to 45 cents a bushel during a two week period in July between the June 30th and July USDA WASDE reports”, recalls Sterling Smith, Bloomberg’s Agricultural Market Specialist. As it turns out, 2017 is one of the analog years Planalytics Head of Weather, Mike Greve, had previously identified when developing his seasonal outlooks for agribusiness clients.”

According to USDA’s June 29th Crop Progress Report, corn has begun to silk in a number of Corn Belt States. This marks the start of pollination, the most critical phase of crop development when crop yields are most affected, particularly due to lack of moisture. “Over the next two weeks, a combination of excessive heat and little precipitation will have a significant effect on crops”, states Greve. “To help put our forecast into context, we’ve developed a Corn Silking Stress index and map based on a combination of factors.”

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