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Kai Ryssdal: It’s been a crazy summer for some parts of the country weather-wise. There’s been record heat in the Northwest. And until this week, mostly cold and rainy in the Northeast. Mother Nature has at least been smiling on American farmers. The Department of Agriculture’s August crop report was out this morning. It’s the first really reliable projection of what the harvest is going to be like. Crop yields, if you’re an agriculture economist. The USDA says there’s going to be a record soybean crop and near-record for corn. Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman reports.
MITCHELL HARTMAN: Here’s a tale of two farmers. Art Walker in Fruitdale, S.D., figured feed corn was profitable last year. So this year, he planted more.
ART WALKER: And I worked really hard, and it was looking really good. I was quite proud of my corn crop. And I’m not real proud of it anymore. It doesn’t look too good.
Saturday night, marble-sized hail ripped most of his corn to shreds.
In Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Bruce Ruddenklau had better luck with his sweet corn.
BRUCE RUDDENKLAU: It’s starting to tassel and start going reproductive, and it looks good.
Like most farmers, Ruddenklau anticipates a bumper crop but expects to get 10 percent less when he sells it.
USDA says the price will hit a three-year low.
Statistician Joe Reilly says a lot of farmers have added corn acreage to make ethanol.
JOE REILLY: Over the last couple years, with the increased acreage going into corn, and the drop in the price for ethanol, the high spike that we saw in corn prices has come down a little bit.
Reilly points out that farmers actually planted slightly less corn this year. But the crop will still be huge, because the number of corn-ears-produced-per-acre is up across the Midwest grain belt.
Thanks to the weather.
HARRY HILLAKER: It’s looking about as normal as you can get.
Harry Hillaker is state climatologist for the Iowa Department of Agriculture.
HILLAKER: Generally that’s what you want to have to have a really good crop. Normal temperatures, normal rainfall.
All making for an abnormally huge corn harvest for American farmers.
I’m Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.
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