Wheat prices rallied sharply this week on concerns adverse weather conditions are curtailing production in Canada and parts of the former Soviet Union.
The issue for our neighbors to the north is too much moisture, while arid conditions threaten wheat crops in Russia and Kazakhstan.
While a drop in foreign wheat production would be a welcome development for domestic producers, U.S. farmers -- especially those in parts of the Corn Belt -- have weather problems of their own.
Heat records were shattered all along the East Coast this week, as temperatures soared to triple digits. The National Weather Service issued health warnings from the Carolinas to New England.
But even as the east suffers through sweltering heat, the Corn Belt is dealing with too much rain. Excessive moisture in some areas has led to ponding in the fields, nitrogen deficiencies, difficulties in spraying and lowland flooding.
Overall, 71 percent of the nation's corn crop was
reported in good to excellent condition this week. That's down slightly from last week but equal to the same time last year. In Iowa, the percentage of the crop rated good to excellent declined seven points this week, as excessive rainfall increased yellowing in some fields and slowed emergence in others.
Meanwhile, 66 percent of the nation's soybean crop was reported in good to excellent condition, down slightly from last week but equal to the same time last year.
Despite all the recent rain in parts of the Midwest, climatologists predict drier days ahead. The ominous weather phenomenon La Nina is expected to ramp up this month and next, increasing the chance of a dry spell in the Corn Belt just as corn enters its critical pollination stage. Moisture also is needed in August for soybeans as they set pods.
Elwynn Taylor, Iowa State Climatologist: "It may happen. It may not happen. What is the chance of the crop being reduced? During a La Nina we could have a record high crop yield just like we could any year, but there's -- the odds are fewer and the odds of having a below trend line yield increase."