Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Wet Spring Delays Planting Season

During last year's drought, farmers begged for rain. This spring, they wish it would stop.

Tire tracks through an empty, muddy field.

Photo: Mark Bridge (Flickr)

If farmers drive their equipment into soggy fields, it packs down the soil and interferes with seeds' ability to develop a strong root system.

Rain, Rain Go Away

Farmers who begged for rain during last year’s drought have finally gotten what they asked for — by the bucket. In fact, the ground throughout the Great Plains and the Midwest is so water-logged that farmers have been forced to delay their corn planting for this year.

The USDA reports that only 12 percent of the country’s cornfields have been planted. That’s 75 percent less than has been planted by this time in the previous five years, ABC News reports.

What’s Wrong With Wet?

During rainy seasons, farmers must balance the risks of planting in wet fields against the risks of planting too late in the year.

Taking farm machinery onto wet fields compacts the soil, which makes it difficult for seeds to develop a strong root system. Waiting for the soil to dry out, however, can cut the growing season short.

Volatile Corn Prices

Reuters points out that this year’s corn planting is the slowest in 29 years.

This lag caused a spike in the price of corn futures on May 6, in anticipation of lower crop yields. Prices dropped again the following day as announcements of drier temperatures promised an extension to the planting season, which typically ends in mid-may.

Read More:

  • Wet Springs Bring Troubling Start To Corn Planting (ABC News)
  • GRAINS-Corns Tick Higher After Biggest Decline In 5 Weeks (Reuters)
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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