Stakes are high for this year’s harvests

An article was passed on to me yesterday by EW that I thought was worth linking to.  It’s an International Herald Tribune article, “Worries mount as world’s farmers push for big harvest” — published June 10, 2008.

Essentially, it discusses some of the difficulties being experienced by farmers worldwide (including the US) dealing with heavy rains in some areas and higher costs.  Yet, simultaneously, the need for hearty yields is higher than it has been in some time.

Here’s an excerpt:

Randy Kron, whose family has been farming in the southwestern corner of Indiana for 135 years, should have corn more than a foot tall by now. But all spring it has seemed as if there were a faucet in the sky. The rain is regular, remorseless.

Some of Kron’s fields are too soggy to plant. Some of the corn he managed to get in has drowned, forcing him to replant. The seeds that survived are barely two inches high.

At a moment when the country’s corn should be flourishing, one plant in 10 has not even emerged from the ground, the Agriculture Department said Monday. Because corn planted late is more sensitive to heat damage in high summer, every day’s delay practically guarantees a lower yield at harvest.

“This is pushing my nerves to the limit,” Kron said one recent morning, the sky as dark as the unplanted earth.


United States soybean plantings are running 16 percent behind last year. Rice is tardy in Arkansas, which produces nearly half the country’s crop. “We’re certainly not going to have as good a crop as we had hoped,” said Harvey Howington of the Arkansas Rice Growers Association. “I don’t think this is good news for anybody.”

Harvests ebb and flow, of course. But with supplies of most of the key commodities at their lowest levels in decades, there is little room for error this year. American farmers are among the world’s top producers, supplying 60 percent of the corn that moves across international borders in a typical year, as well as a third of the soybeans, a quarter of the wheat and a tenth of the rice.

“If we have bad crops, it’s going to be a wild ride,” said the Agriculture Department’s chief economist, Joseph Glauber. “There’s just no cushion.”

There are good signs.  Overall, the worldwide wheat harvest is expected to experience an 8% increase over last years due to anticipated help from the weather and an increase in the amount of acreage being cultivated.  However, “even this bright spot is tentative,” the article points out, noting–for example–that the two-year Australian drought that was expected to subside has not really done so, and that the resulting wheat crop there is expected to be anywhere from 11% to 72% below average.

Seeing the conditions affecting corn and wheat in the US and Australia, one is reminded of an end times characteristic of the modern nations of Israel: drought in some areas, blight and mildew in others (cf. Amos 4:7-9).

Costs are a challenge, too.  Again, from the article:

A universal saying among farmers is that high prices never last, because they encourage production that fills the demand and drives down the prices. The current crisis is testing that theory. With costs soaring for fertilizer and diesel, the expenses of farming are so high that the urge to plant more is battling, in some places, with the temptation to plant nothing.

Perhaps my favorite quote from the article is this one:

“We can’t snap our fingers and make high yields,” said Emerson Nafziger, a professor of agronomic extension at the University of Illinois. “We still depend on the weather.”

Professor Nafziger is right.  We still depend on the weather.  Therefore, we still depend on God.  It will be to everyone’s advantage if we figure that out sooner rather than later.

Again, click here to read the full article for yourself.

5 thoughts on “Stakes are high for this year’s harvests

  1. Howdy, leafless, and thanks for writing.

    That’s a good question, and I would answer that, ultimately, repentance of sin is what is necessary.

    I recommend checking out the booklet I link to in the post, Who Controls the Weather? Unless the US (and the world) learns the truth of 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, there is not much hope:

    “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

    Whether or not humanity has a hand in the apparent rise in global temperature, ultimately it is self-defeating to imagine that there is a solution that does not involve God, for it is He who controls the weather. And it is our national sin that is ultimately the problem.

    What can we do? Humble ourselves, pray, and seek the face of the true God, submitting to him in loving obedience. To co-opt and modify a popular environmental slogan, “Think globally, pray & obey locally.”

  2. I just watched the national news on TV. According to them, the flooding in the Midwest will destroy about 10% of the US corn crop. It might not sound like much, but given the tight supplies, we can expect food prices to jump.

    And that might not be the worst of it. Long range forecasts show a possible lack of rain in the next month or two. That would destroy even more of the corn crop, and destroy some of the soy bean crop as well.

    Floods at the wrong time; no rain at the wrong time. It reminds me of the Bible talking about God ‘giving rain in due seasons.’

  3. rakkav

    One thing that North America and especially Australia share in common with the ancient Land of Israel: a great reliance on the right amount of rainfall at the right time. I’m no expert on the weather, but I get the suspicion that this reliance is greater than the world’s norm. I grew up in Ohio farm country (though not myself living on a farm, just next door to one) and retain an almost instinctive “feel” for how important the weather is for farming. So when I read news like this, I get afraid — very afraid.

    “Think globally, pray and obey locally.” Indeed.

  4. A blogger in my area noted this week that the U.S. spring was NOT one of the hottest on record. In fact, it was something like the 36th COOLEST.

    So who gets the credit (or blame) for that?

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