Drought Endangers Corn Crops, Could Raise Food Prices

Despite scattered thunderstorms during the past week, parts of Indiana and Kentucky remain in a drought. That condition is hitting corn and soybean farmers particularly hard.

Half of Indiana’s and nearly half of Kentucky’s corn crop are in jeopardy, rated as “poor” or “very poor” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt says once a crop is rated “very poor,” there’s not much that can be salvaged.

“Probably getting close to virtually gone. Very little yield potential left in that corn,” he said.

And once an area is in a drought, it’s hard to get out of it. Some areas have a rain deficit of around 10 inches, so for the drought to end, normal seasonal rain would have to come with additional rainfall.

Hurt says the low corn and soybean harvests from this growing season will likely lead to higher food prices. He expects prices for cereal, wheat and bakery products to begin rising by the end of the summer. Commodities like meat, poultry and dairy—from animals that are often fed with corn—will likely rise by next year.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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