Reporting Esme Murphy
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hold onto your wallets as food prices will definitely be climbing in the coming weeks and months.
Drought in the Midwest is threatening to wipe out much of the country’s corn crop, but here in Minnesota, the crop is in much better shape.
Heavy rains and hot temperatures have led to ideal growing conditions, at least so far. Because of the national outlook, corn prices could rise by as much as 40 percent.
And that could mean a big payday for Minnesota farmers. But local farmers said they are worried that prices may get so high that cattle, hog and poultry farmers won’t be able to afford feed corn.
And farmers are also anxious about the lack of the rain in our forecast.
Bruce Peterson, a Northfield corn farmer, said the next few weeks are critical.
“We are hoping we can pick up some significant rain in the next week to 10 days,” he said. “To give the crops a break and give it a boost.”
Like many Minnesotan farmers, much of Peterson’s crop is feed corn. Peterson’s concerned that hog farmers may not be able to afford the high feed prices and may choose to slaughter their animals instead of buying his corn.
At the University of Minnesota Extension Corn Specialist Jeff Coulter worries.
“This is the most critical time for corn,” he said. “It’s the most critical week.”
That’s because this is the week most Minnesota corn will pollinate. Coulter said if the pollen doesn’t land on corn’s silk — representing a kernel — with no moisture, the kernels will dry out.
“The good news is that air temperature is favorable for the crop,” Coulter said. “The downside is that we are dry and the extended forecast is not showing very good chances of rain.”
Even if everything comes together and we do get rain in the next week or so, and we do get a superior corn crop here in Minnesota — it still is not going to be enough to change the drought conditions in other parts of the country.
And that national drought is going to send prices up, for everything from corn on the cob, to breakfast cereal, to meat and even ethanol prices.