Iowa Crop Loss Less Severe Than Expected

Replanting has resulted in new estimates of 2008 weather damage.

Iowa's crop losses from flooding and other damage earlier in the 2008 growing season is considerably less than first estimated, and statewide, Iowa corn and soybean crops are shaping up to what looks like a decent harvest this fall.

The impact of flooding, hail and winds this year are still significant, but some of the lost crops have been replaced by replanting, says Chad Hart, an Iowa State University Extension economist.

A lot still depends on how early the first killing frost comes this fall or if additional disasters hit the crop prior to harvest, he notes. But Iowa is in line to harvest about 93% of the corn and 95% of the soybean acreage, Hart told the Rebuild Iowa Advisory Commission's Agriculture and Environment Task Force which met July 30.

Many acres were replanted

Earlier estimates made on June 20 immediately after the flooding estimated that 20% of the corn and 10% of the soybeans had been destroyed in Iowa due to flooding. Total loss was estimated at 3.3 million acres and $3.3 billion.

On July 30, Hart estimated that 560,000 acres of corn and 400,000 acres of soybeans have been lost in 2008. In total, Iowa farmers planted around 13.7 million acres of corn and 9.4 million acres of soybeans, he says.

His numbers exclude fields that have been replanted, Hart told task force members. He bases his calculations on acreage numbers from USDA's National Ag Statistics Service.

Iowa could have a good crop

"The point is, Iowa statewide could have a good crop this fall," says Hart. He notes that yield estimates aren't yet availableā€”USDA will release it's first of the season yield estimates on August 12. Some farmers will see reduced yields because of the late planting.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says he believes these latest estimates made by Hart are accurate. Northey cautions, however, that the overall picture should not overlook the situations of farmers who lost all or substantial portions of their crops.

Nonetheless, the outlook is much better than it was earlier this year. Those expectations are reasons corn prices have dropped nearly $2 a bushel in recent weeks. Corn is now about $5.50 a bushel and soybeans around $14 a bushel, down from a high this year of around $16.50. "It certainly makes you feel a lot better now and you see a lot more smiles on farmers' faces than three weeks ago," says Northey.

Report due in early September

The July 30 meeting was the first for the ag task force, one of nine groups working with the Rebuild Iowa Advisory Commission, which will recommend action for storm and flood recovery to the governor and Legislature. The task force also looked at other issues such as soil conservation.

The 26 member agricultural task force will make a report with recommendations to the Rebuild Iowa Advisory Commission. The commission will then come up with a main report, which will include the input from all nine groups. The main report is expected to be submitted to the governor and the legislative leaders by September 2.

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