News / USA

Corn Harvest Comes Early for Midwest Farmers

Kane Farabaugh
TAYLORVILLE, Illinois — The worst drought conditions in a generation are sending some U.S. farmers into their fields early to harvest corn.  In the Midwest state of Illinois the poor condition of the corn is cutting into farmers' profits and is driving global prices higher.

The only thing farmer Bruce Nation sees in his cornfields outside Taylorville, Illinois, is heartache.

“This stuff is depressing here.  This is hard to look at for me,” he said.

Most of the ears of corn that managed to grow in his fields are much smaller than normal because of the drought.  Smaller corn means less to sell, which cuts into Nation’s bottom line.

“Probably, maybe 30 kernels on that whole thing.  This is what we are up against,” he said.

Nation was also up against the risk that comes with planting and growing when the cost for seed and fertilizer are at all time highs.

“You are at the mercy of Mother Nature.  Some people ask me why I do not gamble. Why, I gamble every day," he said. "That is just the way it is when you farm.”

As he takes to the fields to harvest - this year about a month ahead of schedule because of the drought - Nation is watching that gamble in real time.  Thanks to an Internet connection in his tractor, he keeps a close watch on the rapidly-changing price for his corn and soybeans.

“I watch them every day," Nation said.  "I have a consultant who helps me on my marketing, he watches it every hour.”

Commodity traders on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade are also keeping close watch over the rapidly changing prices, including GrainAnalyst.com’s Matthew Pierce.

“The drought concerns this year have expanded exponentially as we have approached harvest, and some of the pro-farmer numbers we have seen recently have shown much more damage than was even expected just a month ago,” he said.

Pierce says the outlook for both corn and soybeans gets worse by the day, and has global implications.

“The U.S. exportable surplus is dwindling by the day," he said. "And China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico are going to be most directly affected by that.

“We are at all time highs on both corn and soybeans, and that hurts everything over the long, long haul," Pierce continued. "Everybody is going to feel this effect.”

Everybody, including Nation’s neighbors, will feel it.  He says they will see an increase in the price of their groceries in about six months.

But despite all he faces, Bruce Nation will not call this year’s drought a disaster.

“I would not say a disaster.  I would say a setback," he said.  "It is going to set every body back a little bit.  But the farmer has a heck of a human spirit to him, and he is going to go right on plugging.  And that is all you can do, keep swinging.”

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More