Food prices could skyrocket as U.S. harvest continues to wilt in blistering heat

Tuesday, July 3, 2012
By Paul Martin

By Phillip Inman, The Guardian
Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chicago corn price jumps by 3% to highest since last autumn as maize, soybean and wheat yields also suffer due to drought

Fears that food prices will rocket at the end of the year after a poor US harvest were heightened after predictions that a drought across the Midwest will to continue for at least another week.

Maize yields are suffering after a long drought that hurt the crop in its crucial pollination phase, experts said, as the price of Chicago new-crop corn jumped more than 3% to its highest since last autumn.

Soybean crops and the crucial wheat harvest are also expected to suffer in the blistering heat, which has stayed in the high 30s centigrade for much of the last few months. A repeat of the drought in 2010 in another crucial wheat producing country, Russia, which saw food prices rise in the UK, is likely to make the situation worse, while soybean producers Brazil and Argentina have also suffered poor weather.

The US government played down the extent of the problem with figures showing farmers planted more fields of maize and soybeans, which it said should offset the fall in crop yields.

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