Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

What Goes Up Must Come Down — Even Corn Crop Projections

At the beginning of the planting season, experts predicted a record-busting corn crop in 2012. That was before the drought changed everything.

Dead corn plants turning brown in the sun.

Photo: Cindy47452 (Flickr)

The worst drought in a quarter century has driven down expected yields for this year's midwestern corn harvest.

Remember this spring when farmers were planting the most corn the country has seen since the Great Depression?

Experts predicted this year’s harvest would be one for the record books.

It turns out they may be right, but not in the way anybody had hoped.

Adjusted yield projections — which is to say, bushels of corn harvested per acre planted — have dropped to their lowest since 2003.

Drought Damage

Thanks to the worst drought in 25 years, expectations for this year’s Midwestern corn harvest have plummeted.

The USDA currently estimates yields to average 146 bushels an acre — a 20-bushel drop from their June estimate.

In response, corn futures prices have risen over 25 percent since mid-June.

Stilll Third-Largest Projected Harvest In History

Overall, though, the USDA anticipates harvest of 12.97 billion bushels of corn this season — the third-largest harvest in history in absolute terms.

This has largely to do with farmers’ decision to plant so many acres of corn this year.

Food Prices To Go Up?

Analysts predict that any foods made with corn are likely to increase in price.

This includes corn-fed meats, vitamins and anything containing corn syrup.

A rule of thumb is that overall food prices go up 1 percent for every 50 percent average increase in corn prices.

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Sarah Gordon

Sarah Gordon has been interested in food ethics since she was 15, learned about industrial slaughter, and launched into 10 years of vegetarianism. These days, she strives to be a conscientious omnivore. Now a PhD candidate in folklore, her research has caused her to spend a lot of time in the remote Canadian sub-arctic, where the lake trout (sustainably harvested) tastes amazing.

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