Delta crops face a threat from Tropical Storm Isaac, which is expected to intensify into a hurricane as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall early on Wednesday along the central U.S. Gulf Coast. However, the damage should be limited as long as the storm hits with the projected intensity and moves quickly through the region as expected, and Isaac should help ease the drought in the lower Midwest.
While flooding will be an issue in some areas, the impact on Delta soybean production should be minimal as the crop is too far along to benefit from further rains and it is too early in the harvest season to be concerned about delays.
There should be even less impact on Delta corn production, as much of the region’s bumper crop has already been harvested. Louisiana’s corn harvest was already 73% complete by Aug. 19, while 53% of Mississippi’s crop and 56% of the Arkansas crop had been harvested.
Rice and sugarcane areas in Louisiana along with coarse grain and cotton fields in southern Mississippi are expected feel the most impact from Isaac. Isaac will initially bring strong winds, torrential rain and flooding to those areas, private weather forecaster World Weather Inc. said Monday morning in a special report. The southeast half of Louisiana and southernmost Mississippi are expected to see 6-12 in. of rain.
World Weather expects Isaac to move inland in southeastern Louisiana and estimates there is still potential for the storm to become a Category 2 hurricane, even though the National Hurricane Center only has it coming ashore as a Category 1 hurricane.
Northern Louisiana and Arkansas are next in line to be impacted by the storm, World Weather said. These areas should receive 3-6 in. of rain with local totals over 8 in., resulting in some significant flooding.
The storm is then expected to swing through southeast Missouri and the lower Midwest, said World Weather Inc. president Drew Lerner. Flash flooding is a possibility in the northern Delta, which is expected to see 1.5-4.5 in. of rainfall, because the rains could come during a short period of time. However, floodwaters should be quick to recede in those areas due to seriously dry soil conditions.
The rains should be more beneficial than detrimental in the northern Delta and lower Midwest. "Isaac will not end the drought in the lower Midwest, but it will help to greatly ease it," Lerner said.
Producers in the lower Midwest are concerned, however, that heavy rains and or high winds could down drought-weakened cornstalks before fields can be harvested.
The rains should raise river and stream flows and will boost topsoil moisture for winter wheat planting. Low water levels on the Mississippi River continue to disrupt barge transportation. The Mississippi was closed to barge traffic near Greenville, Mississippi again on Sunday after another barge ran aground there.
Editor’s note: Richard Brock, Corn & Soybean Digest's marketing editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.