May 26, 2011

INDIANA: Time Running Short For State Corn Crop. “Barely half of Indiana’s corn crop for 2011 is planted and several million acres of seeds still must go into the ground with just a week remaining before Wednesday’s optimal planting deadline. However, rain and thundershowers keep peppering fields statewide, preventing heavy equipment from getting into the fields without damaging fragile and valuable soil.”

Related: Rain, wet fields wreck spring planting time. “Many of Ohio’s farmers are facing a crisis as record rains that fell this spring have prevented them from planting crops. As of the start of this week, only 11 percent of the state’s corn crop had been sewn, compared to the nearly 90 percent average for this time of year.”

UPDATE: G8 Warned Of Pending Food Crisis.

Related: Report: Government Decisions Fueled 2008 Food Crisis. ‘In 2008, the food crisis and especially the increase of the rice price was due largely to political choices.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Farmer-reader Bart Hall emails:

Glenn, just a couple of key things. “Optimal planting date” for corn is governed by when local weather typically becomes hot enough to threaten corn pollen, and therefore yields. What I suspect most of these guys’ll do is shift to beans (soybeans) because the planting window is a few weeks later. There is also more manoeuvring room with beans because you can always shift to a lower “number” bean variety, which will ripen in a shorter period of time, though yields will be somewhat weaker.

The corn supply problem, however, could be more or less solved by ending ethanol subsidies and eliminating requirements for its inclusion in the motor fuel stream. Very little corn is eaten by humans as corn — corn flakes, tortillas, corn meal, grits, and so on. The remainder is essentially an industrial feedstock, deconstructed into constituent components like corn-starch, corn-syrup, corn oil and so on to be used as ingredients in all manner of highly processed products of quite dubious nutritional value. The other major destination for corn is as a livestock feed, but usually only when it’s cheap, since least-cost ration formulation programs will readily identify appropriate substitutes if corn becomes too spendy.

Yes, the ethanol issue is behind most of this.