World in Serious Trouble with Poor Corn Harvest

The world was hoping for a good U.S. corn harvest to replenish dangerously low grain stocks.

| July 24, 2012

  • drought corn
    A poor U.S. corn harvest will increase food insecurity worldwide.
    PHOTO: FOTOLIA/ROMANEAU

  • drought corn

The following article is posted with permission from the Earth Policy Institute.

In the early spring of 2012, U.S. farmers were on their way to planting some 96 million acres in corn, the most in 75 years. A warm early spring got the crop off to a great start. Analysts were predicting the largest corn harvest on record.

The United States is the leading producer and exporter of corn, the world's feedgrain. At home, corn accounts for four-fifths of the U.S. grain harvest. Internationally, the U.S. corn crop exceeds China's rice and wheat harvests combined. Among the big three grains – corn, wheat, and rice – corn is now the leader, with production well above that of wheat and nearly double that of rice.

The corn plant is as sensitive as it is productive. Thirsty and fast-growing, it is vulnerable to both extreme heat and drought. At elevated temperatures, the corn plant, which is normally so productive, goes into thermal shock.



As spring turned into summer, the thermometer began to rise across the Corn Belt. In St. Louis, Mo., in the southern Corn Belt, the temperature in late June and early July climbed to 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher 10 days in a row. For the past several weeks, the Corn Belt has been blanketed with dehydrating heat.

Weekly drought maps published by the University of Nebraska show the drought-stricken area spreading across more and more of the country until, by mid-July, it engulfed virtually the entire Corn Belt. Soil moisture readings in the Corn Belt are now among the lowest ever recorded.

Kendall Lohmann
8/29/2012 7:46:02 PM

With 40 percent of the crop being used for ethanol production is the problem


GREG MATHERS
8/27/2012 2:48:30 AM

Why in the world is the government still requiring the use of ethanol in our gasoline? It takes almost as much energy to produce as it gives off and the world needs the grain as food.







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