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Midwest Drought Encourages Southern Farmers To Grow Corn

High corn prices and low supply caused by the 2012 drought have prompted some farmers in the Southeast to consider planting more corn.

Corn

Photo: Noelle Visser

Purdue experts say weeds, insects, and fungus diseases that were once only found in the South are also moving north due to changing weather patterns.

Indiana corn farmers could have some more competition during the upcoming growing season because last year’s drought and low yields have given farmers in the Southeast United States incentive to plant more corn.

Farmers in the Southeast are known for growing cotton and peanuts—not corn. But high corn prices and low supply caused by the 2012 drought have prompted some farmers to think planting more corn could be very profitable.

University of Georgia Extension Economist Nathan Smith says the weather in his part of the country has recently been more suitable for growing corn than in states such as Indiana.

“There’s a lot of interest in corn and certainly some excitement coming off last year. We basically had the opposite situation in Georgia where we had record yields,” he says.

Smith says states Georgia and other states could become more self-sustaining, instead of needing to buy corn from Midwestern farmers. Still, despite some advantages, he says the Southeast doesn’t have the land or the infrastructure to compete with the Midwest in the long term.

Purdue University’s Climate Change Research Center Director Otto Doering agrees. He says Indiana farmers shouldn’t be worried about losing their place in the nation’s Corn Belt, but they do need to adapt to changing weather patterns.

“One of the concerns in the Midwest and we’re seeing it already is that both weed pests and insect pests and fungus diseases that the South used to only have to deal with are now moving north,” he says.

Doering says researchers can help alleviate some of those concerns by creating corn that is both pest and drought resistant.

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