Iowa Public Television


Hurricane Dennis Brings Little Relief to Illinois Crops

posted on July 15, 2005

The government released its latest crop production and supply estimates this week and the biggest surprise came in wheat.

Spring wheat production was raised 89 million bushels while ending stocks were increased 81 million bushels. Bean yields were left unchanged and corn yields were reduced by 3 bushels per acre.

With the corn crop entering the critical pollination period, the markets continue to trade on the weather. And this week's glimmer of hope for the Eastern Corn Belt came in the form of Hurricane Dennis.

Hurricane Dennis Brings Little Relief to Illinois Crops After crashing into the Florida Panhandle and Alabama coast Sunday, Hurricane Dennis weakened to a Category 2 storm. Many farmers in the Midwest were hoping remnants of the hurricane would bring much needed rain to parched fields. But in Illinois, where 52% of the corn is rated poor to very poor, the storm brought less rainfall than anticipated.

While the hurricane may have brought relief to some fields in the Midwest, experts fear it may have spread soybean rust. When Dennis made landfall along the Gulf Coast Sunday, it swept an area of southwestern Alabama where fields already are infected with the potentially devastating soybean fungus. Plant specialists suggest Midwestern farmers look for signs the fungus has spread in the next few weeks. The rust appears as pustules on the leaves of soybean plants, and heat and high humidity can fuel its development. USDA claims soybean rust has not caused significant damage in the U.S. since it arrived in 2004 from South America.

Soybean rust aside, crops generally are looking good around the nation. According to USDA, 58% of the nation's corn crop is rated good to excellent, while 54% of America's soybeans garnered similar ratings.

Tags: agriculture crops hurricanes Illinois news storms weather