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US corn at risk from heat wave

Early season timing protects Midwest for now


A heat wave gripping the central and eastern US is raising concerns about the upcoming corn harvest. While the major corn-producing Midwest may be spared due to the early stage of crop development, southern states are facing a higher risk of crop stress and yield loss.

The National Weather Service issued heat alerts for parts of the Midwest and Northeast, with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit and a heat index surpassing 100 F in some areas. This heat wave coincides with the silking stage – the beginning of corn reproduction – in the South, making crops particularly vulnerable.

"June is a bad time for a heat wave for corn across the southern United States," says Brad Rippey, a USDA meteorologist. Hotter temperatures during pollination can lead to shorter ears and fewer kernels, impacting overall yield.

The Midwest, where corn hasn't reached the reproductive stage yet, is expected to fare better. However, weather forecasts predict a hotter-than-usual summer across the US, and a potential shift from El Niño to La Niña could further elevate temperatures in the Midwest.

Studies suggest La Niña is linked to hotter summers in this region, raising concerns for future crop development.

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