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Rain Offers Relief as Harvest Begins

posted on September 7, 2012

Heavy rains from Hurricane Isaac could help portions of the drought-stricken Mississippi River, though experts say it wasn’t enough to provide long-term relief for the vital waterway.

In a good year, barges ship up to 500 million tons of goods up and down the river, including 60 percent of America’s grain.  But this year, the lowest water levels since 1988 are causing barges to lighten their loads. 

Isaac dumped 10 to 15 inches of rain on portions of Louisiana and Mississippi. But, the deluge isn’t expected to help the entire river because it’s fed by the third-largest watershed in the world -- and much of it lies in the Midwest. 

Hurricane Isaac did offer a brief reprieve for portions of the Grain Belt.  But in the heart of corn country, it was too little, too late.

Rain Offers Relief as Harvest Begins

Remnants of Hurricane Isaac benefited producers in several states. Heavy rains fell last weekend in parts of the Grain Belt, which are still suffering under the nation’s worst drought in half a century.

The much-needed moisture reduced the number of acres in the worst condition. But other portions of the Midwest were not as fortunate.

The U.S. Drought Monitor revealed dramatic improvement in portions of Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. And the weekly snapshot shows the section of the continental U.S. in the worst two categories of drought - extreme and exceptional - dipped slightly to 21.45 percent, down nearly 2 percentage points from last week.

Iowa, the nation's top corn producing state, missed out on virtually all of Isaac’s blessing. Portions of that state's northwest corner slipped into exceptional drought.

As harvest gets underway, 52 percent of America’s corn is rated in poor to very poor condition.

Nationally, USDA estimates 10 percent of the crop is already in the bin… well ahead of the five-year pace.

Midwest soybeans benefited slightly from weekend rains. According to USDA, 37 percent of the bean crop is in poor to very poor condition while nearly 30 percent of the crop is rated good to excellent.

Tags: agriculture corn crop conditions Isaac news soybeans weather


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