June 3, 2011 / 6:18 PM / 8 years ago

Missouri River flooding threatens western Corn Belt

 * Key western corn, soy areas at risk of flooding
 * Slow planting in East makes western crops critical
 * Floods could impact 300,000-800,000 acres
 By Mark Weinraub
 CHICAGO, June 3 (Reuters) - Flooding along the Missouri River could
wash out cropland in the western Corn Belt that many were hoping would
provide a bumper harvest this fall and mitigate expected shortfalls in the
eastern half of the U.S. Midwest, analysts said Friday.
 The analysts estimated that between 300,000 and 800,000 acres in
traditionally fertile areas of Iowa and Nebraska for corn and soybeans
could be hit by flooding.
 "It is important," said Dan Basse, president of AgResource Co. "We
cannot afford to lose any acres. It is another calamity for the market."
 Rain in eastern areas of the Corn Belt were already threatening to
reduce the size of the crop this fall. Farmers who have been unable to
plant corn due to rain were considering switching to different crops or
collecting insurance payments, then trying again next year.
 Massive floods in the South submerged some farmland last month after
the Mississippi River burst its banks.
 (Factbox on states affected by flooding: [ID:N03153380])
 The U.S. Agriculture Department said farmers had planted 86 percent of
their anticipated corn acreage as of May 29. That was 9 percentage points
behind the 5-year average.
 Farmers still have nearly 13 million acres of corn left to sow,
including about 3 million in Ohio, if they want to meet their original
planting intentions.
 Growers in areas west of the Mississippi had enjoyed good weather
during the planting season, but the flooding threatens to undo some of the
progress they have made.
 In Iowa, corn planting was 98 percent completed. Farmers in Nebraska
have planted 94 percent of their corn crop.
 Total planted corn acreage in Iowa and Nebraska, the largest and
third-largest corn producing states respectively, was expected to be 23.4
million acres this year.
 The high water levels already were affecting some areas of agriculture,
even though fields remained dry.
 Agribusiness company Cargill was laying sandbags and building a berm or
sloping wall around a corn mill in Blair, Nebraska and had stopped
accepting loads of corn and soybeans at an elevator in Council Bluffs, Iowa
due to the rising rivers,
 (Additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen; Editing by John Picinich)

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