DEER GROVE, Ill. (Reuters) – The Happy Spot was a little depressed.
Field puddles are seen as heavy rains have caused unprecedented delays in corn planting in the US this spring near Sheffield, Illinois, United States, on June 13, 2019. REUTERS / Tom Polansek
Dozens of corn growers and their sellers of seeds, chemicals and equipment gathered Thursday at Deer Grove's restaurant in Illinois after heavy rains delayed planting this year and contributed to record floods in the central United States.
The storms left millions of unseeded acres in the US $ 51 billion US corn market and further expose late crops to weather-related damage during the growing season. Together, the problems weigh more heavily on an agricultural sector that has suffered from years of low crop prices and a trade war between the United States and China that has slowed agricultural exports.
Forecasts for even more rain have given US corn futures a five-year high on Friday, though fewer farmers will benefit from soaring prices due to disturbances in plantations.
James McCune, a farmer from Mineral, Illinois, was not able to plant 85% of his planned maize acreage and wanted to empathize with fellow farmers by organizing the "Prevention Day" plants "at The Happy Spot. He invited them to share stories while eating fried chicken and a barrel of beer at Deer Grove, a village of about 50 residents located 193 km west of Chicago.
"Everyone is so much in the dumps," McCune said.
McCune returned his unused corn seed to a local Pioneer dealer, owned by Corteva Inc., after planting only 900 acres of corn on the 6,000 acres he was planning to plant.
Bureau County, Illinois, where McCune lives, presents fourth highest risk among US counties for uncropped corn acreage this year due to rains behind three counties in Nebraska, according to Gro Intelligence.
In the United States, farmers are expected to harvest the smallest corn crop in four years, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Last week, the agency reduced its planting estimate by 3.2% from May and its yield estimate of 5.7%.
Farmers think that there will probably be more cuts because the late harvest could be damaged by summer heat and autumn frost.
"An early freeze will upset the world," said Rock Katschnig, a farmer from Prophetstown, Illinois.
TELEPHONE EXITS THE RINGER
Planting problems mean that growers need fewer seeds and herbicides than expected, which is bad news for sellers such as Greg McKnight of Barman Seed in Woodhull, Illinois.
McKnight, who attended the party, said the farmers had returned Golden Harvest corn seeds, made by Syngenta from ChemChina. They are asking for either refunds for herbicides or asking Barman to keep their chemicals in stock until next year, he said.
McKnight also sells 18-wheeled occasional trucks to farmers to haul grain. He thinks that the financial uncertainty related to the crop problems will divide his sales by half this year.
"Since all that rain started, it's like turning off the light," McKnight said. "My phone has stopped ringing on sales."
The US government has announced a $ 16 billion aid program to help farmers who are suffering from reduced sales in China – but only those who succeed in planting a crop are eligible for payment.
US President Donald Trump has also recently signed a $ 19 billion disaster relief bill that provided more than $ 3 billion in crop loss spending, including those preventing planting, according to the senator's office. American Charles Grassley of Iowa.
Grassley added adding an amendment in the bill to include cereals stored on farms in a compensation program, after bins containing corn broke out during floods in the province. Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri.
Floods that delayed seed shipments led to a 28 percent drop in quarterly profits for Corteva's former parent, DowDuPont.
Reduced plantings mean less business for grain elevators like Tettens Grain in Sterling, Illinois. At the party, its owner, Dan Koster, said that he could receive between 60% and 75% of the 10 million bushels he handles each year.
"We are trying to find a way to make this year a profitable year," said Koster.
Some farmers, who were not able to plant as much as they expected, took the unusual step of canceling corn sales contracts at post-harvest elevators.
"It's a desperate move," said Bruce Hartley, owner of Hartley Grain in Tipton County, Indiana, and canceled contracts with customers overwhelmed by the rains.
Planting problems are also bad news for equipment dealerships, such as Ryan Raab, a representative of A.C. McCartney, who sells machines from AGCO Corp. and other manufacturers. Farmers will not need to use as much of their equipment because they have not sown as much, he said.
Mike Thacker, a Walnut farmer in Illinois, planted about 1,600 acres of corn, or 60% of what he had expected. He is reluctant to plant more because yields usually fall later.
Thacker said that the corn that had started to come out of the ground was shorter than normal. He was not happy with even a field.
"It makes you feel terrible," said Thacker at the party.
"It's our livelihood. We want to do a good job. We did not do a good job. "
Report by Tom Polansek to Deer Grove, Ill .; Edited by Caroline Stauffer and Matthew Lewis