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Damper on corn planting season

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Jeremy Hobson: The Army Corps of Engineers says more levees along the rising Mississippi River may need to be destroyed in order to divert water to farmland so it doesn’t flood entire cities. Earlier this week the Corps blew a hole in a Missouri levee to save Cairo Illinois from flooding. And the soggy spring in the midwest could soon impact the price of corn.

Our sustainability reporter Sarah Gardner explains.

Sarah Gardner: Spring rains and floods have left much of the nation’s corn fields a soggy mess. Farmers in the Midwest are worried they’ll miss the traditional deadline for getting their seeds in the ground and wind up with a measly harvest.

Jason Ward: There’s kind of a magic deadline in the Midwest for optimal planting time, and it’s about May 10th.

That’s analyst Jason Ward at Northstar Commodity in Minneapolis. He says if cornfields in key states like Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa don’t dry out this week, it won’t just be a problem for farmers. Corn supplies are the tightest on record and consumers would feel the pinch too.

Ward: They would see higher milk prices, they would see higher beef prices, higher pork prices and ultimately higher chicken prices.

If warm, sunny weather doesn’t settle in soon, some corn belt farmers may switch over to soybeans, which can still be planted in June.

I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

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