Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
A mid-week holiday distracted an American financial community that has already been losing interest in the markets.
News of rising unemployment and reports of lower earnings from many companies have reduced investor expectations. Many analysts are now suggesting economic recovery will not arrive until at least the second quarter of 2002. Once again Wall Street awaits another interest rate cut from the Federal reserve to "jump start" the economy. The cost of capital, however, is only one component of the investment climate. No one knows that better than the American agricultural sector. Mounting supplies and lethargic demand exacerbated by currency exchange rates that discourage foreign sales, continue to define the U.S. agri-economy as this year's crops develop.
Even though market prices hardly encourage it, the nation's winter wheat harvest is progressing northward. Thirty seven percent of the harvest is completed.
Elsewhere in farm country the condition of corn and soybean crops continue to improve. Sixty-nine percent of the corn is rated good or excellent. Sixty percent of the soybean crop is rated in that condition. Yield projections for both crops have been rolled back due to wet weather that caused planting delays and in some cases prevented it.
Meanwhile in the West extended dryness is beginning to take a toll on range and pasture conditions. In the Northwest two out of three acres are rated to be in fair or worse condition.