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Tough Year For Crops, But Still Too Soon To Predict Impact On Food Prices

Sean Crawford/NPR Illinois

Less than half the corn and soybean crops in Illinois are in good to excellent condition, according to the latest crop progress report from the U-S Department of Agriculture.

That's fewer crops than usual doing well at this point in the year, and is due primarily to the wet spring that delayed planting for many farmers across the state.

John Newton is the Chief Economist for the American Farm Bureau.  He said you might see crops that look okay as you drive by, but looks can be deceiving.

“It may look good from the road, but if you get in the middle of the field it’s very uneven,” he said. “For the stage development for any of the late planted corn – July and August weather conditions are going to be pretty critical.  And then there’s also concern in some parts of the country about an early frost.”

The current crop progress is on pace to be the worst since the drought year of 2012. 

Newton said it’s difficult to predict the impact the earlier weather problems will have on food prices. There are still factors that will decide the markets – the weather the rest of the summer, whether or not we see an early frost and even how farmers are faring in places like South America.

“We’re no longer the only game in town,” Newton said. “There are a lot of people who can grow corn and soybeans around the world.  So we’re paying attention to what those farmers are facing as well.”

Newton said farmers in the Midwest might also hang on to their harvested grain longer to see if prices go up.  That could create more of a market shortage.

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