Oct 14, 2019 - Science

Early blizzard demolishes harvests already threatened by spring floods

After delaying planting in spring due to widespread floods throughout the Midwest, farmers are now hoping to recover from yet another obstacle: an early blizzard, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: Historic flooding in the spring led farmers to delay plantings due to drenched fields. An uncharacteristically early blizzard in northern states in recent days has only amplified the race to harvest, with farmers scrambling to pull their crops before they freeze.

  • Late plantings have left crops immature and in need of even more time to grow. In the 18 highest corn-producing states, 58% of crops were mature by Oct. 7, compared to an average of 85% at that point in the previous 5 years, according to the USDA.
  • The storm dumped between 1 and 2 feet of snow from Colorado to Minnesota.
  • “We know the snow’s going to be a disaster,” South Dakota farmer Roger Rix told WSJ.

Of note: Farmers — especially those who produce soy — have also been struggling with fluctuating demand in the face of the ongoing U.S.-China trade war.

What to watch: Farmers say this round of snow could delay harvests by an additional 3 weeks — leaving them just on the brink of winter's full blow.

Go deeper: In photos: Staggering destruction from historic flooding in the Plains

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