Everyone in agriculture is watching and waiting for the most updated evaluation on how hard farmland along the Mississippi River is going to ultimately be hit during the flooding that continues.
The damage to crops is projected to be in the billions of dollars, as the area flooded is in the millions of acres. Missouri is the state where the river flood crest has passed. The act of the Army Corps of Engineers to open the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway resulted in the flooding of 130,000 acre of farmland, according to estimates by Missouri Corn Growers Association CEO Gary Marshall.
The southern Mississippi River flooding is being compared to the monster flood of 1927. The entire area south of the opened Morganza Spillway in Louisiana is being flooded; that’s a large chunk of the farmland in the state. Meanwhile, Arkansas has more than 1,500 square miles flooded, and the state of Mississippi has considerable flooding, too. One estimate has total flooding in Mississippi to be more than 2,100 square miles with flooding from the Mississippi River also backing up the Yazoo River into flood stage.
Flooding along the northern portion of the Mississippi was on land that had not been planted, but quite a bit of the southern land had been planted and will require replanting when the flood waters subside.
Planted or unplanted, flooded land will need some tillage and field work. Shorter season crops will need planted but accomplishing extensive field work on the ground hardest hit before replanting will require a lot of work in fast turnaround.
Marshall, the Missouri corn grower, noted, “The actual work of reclaiming the land will take a good amount of time. It requires the use of heavy machinery such as bulldozers to move sand, smooth the terrain and till in holes. In some cases, the land may need deep plowing, which involves using four- to six-foot-tall plows pulled by Caterpillars to bring the fertile soil back to the top while flipping the sand underneath. These are only a few of a number things that will have to be done before the area goes back into production.”
Speculation by the stock market analysts is that the fertilizer companies will be winners in this reclaiming of land. In general, the rivers wash away soil nutrients. As one analyst put it, “They [fertilizer companies] should see a nice up tick in sales from this disaster.”
The commodity markets are seen as reacting, too, which can be positive for those able to plant and not reclaiming flooded ground. Even with a “normal” remainder of the growing season, most of those in agriculture are questioning supply meeting earlier projections from the Department of Agriculture.