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Purdue: Drought Pushes Grocery Prices Higher
Updated May 5, 2013 12:11 AM | Filed under: WBIW News
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(UNDATED) - Food prices are expected to rise as Indiana experiences what Purdue University experts call the worst drought in the state since 1988.

Jay Hermacinski, of WISH TV reports, Purdue Extension officials said that every American will feel the effects of the current drought.

Experts said meat, corn and dairy prices are likely to increase 2 percent to 2 ½ percent due to poor crop yields.

Indiana is suffering more than any other state that produces corn and soybeans.

"A break in the drought and heat for the remainder of the season would certainly minimize further deterioration of the corn crop but would not result in recovery to anywhere close to normal yields" said Bob Nielsen, Purdue Extension corn specialist.

Purdue agriculture experts have said one out of every five corn fields in Indiana is in very bad condition. And 50 percent of the corn crop is rated as poor or very poor.

"When we get down to that very poor category, 19 percent, most of us consider that virtually gone," said Chris Hurt, Purdue agricultural economist.

Most corn is tasseling, which means it has entered the pollination phase. For pollination to take place, there needs to be an ear of corn on the stalk with healthy green silk showing.

It's not happening in far too many heat-stressed fields.

"Severe stress during that period can result in yield losses upwards of 10 percent yield loss per day. You can imagine four-five days of truly severe losses, we are talking really serious loss on an individual field basis," said Nielsen.

For farming brothers David and Jon Cline, drought is something they've never had to deal with until this year.

"Guys like us that are young, this is eye-opening for us," said David Cline.

Eye-opening and pocketbook-breaking. The Clines said they are seeing a 30 percent decrease in corn yield compared to this time last year.

"I don't know how long we can go. I'd say probably 10 more days, then we are really going to be hurting," said David Cline.

Purdue Extension Agent Scott Gabbard said farmers are facing the worst drought conditions since 1988.

"I would say we are on the edge of a cliff right now. Things have dramatically worsened," he said.

The hot temperatures and lack of rain are hitting the corn crop the hardest.

"We have several fields now with stalks with no ears, no silk. It's still shedding pollen. If you have nothing on the stalk, that's a zero," said Gabbard.

The Cline brothers are seeing it in their fields. There is not much they can do.

"This is our livelihood. Our paycheck comes in the fall, and it's going to be short if we don't get any rain," said David Cline.

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