The US Corn Belt and the summer chill

Guest essay by David Archibald

A correspondent in the Corn Belt emailed on 10th August:

“Here in north central Illinois at exit 56 on I-80, most of the corn was planted by May 15.

The GDD totals since May 15 at Moline, Illinois.

  • May 15-31      + 1.7 GDD >normal.
  • June 1-30     – 32.7 GDD < normal.
  • July 1-31      – 94.5 GDD < normal.
  • August 1-9    – 33.9 GDD < normal.

Total since May 15 = 1695.0 GDD = -159.4 < normal, or about 8 normal days in early September. Corn that has a 2,500 GDD rating needs about 40 days yet. Most of the corn planted in NC Illinois is in the 2,450 GDD to 2,700 GDD maturity area.

The area of greatest risk is in IA north of Route 30, MN, WI and the Dakotas.”

clip_image001

Figure 1: Corn Futures and Production Forecast from the Wall Street Journal

The corn market doesn’t see a problem with corn prices off 30%-odd from where they started the year, as shown in Figure 1 at right.

To illustrate the problem in parts of the Corn Belt, Figure 2 shows the average Growing Degree Days (GDD) experienced in Northwest Indiana, fairly close to the center of the Corn Belt:

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Figure 2: Average Weekly GDD for Corn in Northwest Indiana

From where we are at the time of the incoming correspondence, marked on the graph at 10th August, the heat received by the corn crop starts falling away.

Staying in Northwest Indiana, if we assume that the crop there was also 159 GDD below a normal season, Figure 3 illustrates the effect of on achieving the necessary 2500 GDD for crop maturity:

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Figure 3: Northwest Indiana 2013 Corn Crop

The upper red line shows the cumulative GDD for a crop planted on 15th May if the season had been normal from that date. Under that case, 2,500 GDD would be achieved by 26th September well before the first frost date for the area. The season has been colder than average with GDD for July 15 per cent below normal. The green line shows the fate of the crop if the season reverts to normality from 10th August. Under that case, 2,500 GDD is reached by 17th October, very close to the first Fall frost date. The lower dark blue line shows the effect of the season being 10% cooler from here.

While we cheer on the Arctic sea ice extent, there are farmers in the northern half of the Corn Belt who are now concerned about how their crop will finish.

UPDATE: Lows this morning from Dr. Ryan Maue – Anthony

2Mlows_cornbelt

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90 thoughts on “The US Corn Belt and the summer chill

  1. Any loss in the northern corn belt is possibly going to be offset by huge bumper crops in the Mid-Atlantic and south and the southern half of the corm belt. The corn is 10 feet tall in some places from all the rain they have had and the worry now is that they are hoping they don’t get winds that knock the heavy stalks over.

  2. HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK
    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DULUTH MN
    314 PM CDT TUE AUG 13 2013

    314 PM CDT TUE AUG 13 2013

    THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR NORTHEAST MINNESOTA AND
    NORTHWEST WISCONSIN.

    .DAY ONE…THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT

    SOME FROST IS POSSIBLE OVER PORTIONS OF FAR NORTHERN
    MINNESOTA…INCLUDING THE BORDER REGION…IRON RANGE…AND
    ARROWHEAD. FROST IS ALSO POSSIBLE OVER PARTS OF NORTHWEST
    WISCONSIN…MAINLY AROUND
    HAYWARD…WINTER…DRUMMOND…GLIDDEN…MERCER AND PARK FALLS.

    PATCHY DENSE FOG WILL ALSO BE POSSIBLE TONIGHT.

    .DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN…WEDNESDAY THROUGH MONDAY

    MOST OF THE NORTHLAND WILL REMAIN DRY THROUGH THE WEEKEND…WITH A
    CHANCE FOR THUNDERSTORMS RETURNING EARLY NEXT WEEK.

    .SPOTTER INFORMATION STATEMENT…

    SKYWARN SPOTTER ACTIVATION WILL NOT BE NEEDED THIS AFTERNOON OR
    TONIGHT.

    http://forecast.weather.gov/showsigwx.php?warnzone=MNZ018&warncounty=MNC061&firewxzone=MNZ018&local_place1=&product1=Hazardous+Weather+Outlook#.UgsMg9bD_Dc

    This kind of news can run chills down a farmers back. For Mid August.

  3. Looking warmer than normal upper Midwest next 2-3wks. after this brief cool spell. Good heat and humidity to get that crop up and over the finish line.

  4. TimB says:
    August 13, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    Did we reach “peak Corn?”
    __________________________
    OK, that’s it. you get the Thread Gold Star.

  5. I fear it is called weather. In Ukraine & Russia they expect a record harvest of almost anything they planted as they had a wet & sunny summer.

  6. LucVC, I agree with you, it is just weather. The problem is the overall trend, all of these happening together backs up Skeptical claims that not only has the earth temp gone stasis for 17 years but you can almost see the hint of a slight decline since 2005. Now before someone attacks me, yes that could simply be noise and 5 – 10 years from now, that decline will be smoothed out. That said, there is alot of info, pointing to the direction that the earth is NO longer warming and is stasis.

    The warmist, have always pointed to individual events, not too point them out, but to build bulk evidence in multiple data sets that support their theory. Even though individual events are just weather, they did have point, when mother nature was cooperating, that when multiple different data sets all point to one conclusion, they might be on to something.

    Those conclusions say two things, the earth is no longer warming, at least temporarily, and warming is better than the alternative.

  7. Total since May 15 = 1695.0 GDD = -159.4 < normal, or about 8 normal days in early September. Corn that has a 2,500 GDD rating needs about 40 days yet. Most of the corn planted in NC Illinois is in the 2,450 GDD to 2,700 GDD maturity area.

    Speaking of September, meaning August?

  8. Whether the corn crop is too big in the South, or gets wiped out by frost in the North, readers here won’t be suprised by who the msm blames for it.

  9. More carbon dioxide in the air means faster growing plants. On the other hand, if it is raining all the time, those twenty ton tractors can’t be taken out into the fields.

  10. I grew up in Indiana and as a boy spent July in Wisconsin, about halfway up on the Lake Michigan shore. This was in the late 1940s to early 1960s. Corn was planted heavily in both Indiana (not far from the Michigan line) and Wisconsin; the old saying was that the farmer hoped it would be “knee high by the fourth of July.” There were other crops also, of course; but the corn was what we laypeople watched the most. Much depended on the spring–when could the crops be sown? As I recall, in northern and central Wisconsin there was more spring than winter wheat, but that’s long ago, and I was not the most informed observer. Spring could stay fairly cold in that part of the country. I remember a light dusting of snow on my father’s birthday, June 21, in Huntington County, Indiana one year.

    Very interesting article, as was the link to the Ohio explanation of GDD.

  11. Me, it’s just weather as usual. I am convinced the Sun governs our climate through it’s activity levels. No idea about specifics, but I just know it does. William Herschel won bets on the price of corn/wheat in Britain by counting Sunspots, the more there were, the cheaper the corn/wheat, the fewer there were, the higher the price! Who says empirical evidence isn’t any good over puter models? AtB

  12. Michael said @ August 13, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Should have included a description of Growing Degree Days (GDD). Unless you are an American horticulturist, you’d have no idea what this article is about.

    The concept of Growing Degree Days is not unique to American horticulturists and has been discussed here before.

    Even the wiki-bloody-pedia has an article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growing_degrees

  13. Michael says: August 13, 2013 at 10:08 pm “Should have included a description of Growing Degree Days (GDD). Unless you are an American horticulturist, …”

    Ixodes ticks, blacklegged deer ticks, vector for burgeoning Borrelia burgdorferi is exquisitely sensitive to GDD, synchronizing stadial activity by diapause. Because Ixodes aren’t tied to photosynthesis and, thus, daylight, a measure of ‘growing degree hours’ is useful.

    The “can’t post this comment” glitch is tedious. Any work arounds?

  14. So if the crop is 15% less, this probably means biogasoline and biodiesel will still be okay thankfully.(sarc off)

  15. Crosspatch: I notice that the corn is very high this year, but is it producing more grain? My tomatoes and cucks are all over the place but they haven’t set much fruit – lack of daylight is my guess or possibly fewer bees due to the wet.

  16. This morning in Whiteland Indiana (Central Indiana, about 20 miles south of Indy), it was a balmy 48F at 6:15 this morning, and the predicted high for today is only 72F. The cool weather (below 80 for the highs with night-time lows in the upper 40s to low 50s) is supposed to persist for about 3 more days. After that, they are projecting a 2-week period (so far) with highs in the low to mid 80s and lows in the mid 60s, which should help the corn crop.

    Last year by this date, Central Indiana had close to 40 days with temperatures > 90F for the high, with about 10 over 100F. This year, we have had FOUR (that’s right 4) days with temperatures > 90F for the high, with none over 100F. I know this is just “weather”, but it has been SIGNIFICANTLY cooler this entire year in Central Indiana than it was in 2012.

    However, the corn has had 0 heat stress, and is actually looking quite good. If we get a decent number of 80+ degree days and a reasonable amount of rain between now and October 1st, the corn here in Central Indiana is going to be a “bumper crop”.

  17. It was in the upper 40s F this morning in southern Minnesota. However, it is supposed to warm up this weekend with slightly above normal temperatures. Farming corn was strong in this area back in the 1950s and 1960s as well. Personally, I don’t see a big problem at the moment. The biggest fear is an early hard freeze which would halt the growth.

  18. Doug Huffman says:

    > A GMO is short corn that does not waste energy on un-needed height greenery.

    Coz it gets enough from the soil, so can afford to have smaller leaf area. Which gives an even better punch to one of my friends’ maxim that the modern agriculture can be thought of as the convertion of petroleum products into food using sunlight and soil as catalysts. The author of this maxim is himself from central Illinois, where they have good intution about energy conversion in general.

  19. In an historical context, corn prices today are lower than they have been in the past. The recent ethanol mandates have bumped up prices lately. Wheat is not much that much different than it was in terms of inflation-adjusted prices. Corn and Wheat adjusted for CPI back to 1784 here.

    In nominal prices, hard to tell what’s going on.

    Drought and/or rain and/or climate does not appear to be the big driver of these prices. It is shocks like Wars especially, or a Soviet collective farm failure in 1973 or an ethanol mandate in 2004.

  20. I have to confess I don’t know much about corn farming.

    However, it seems to me that a certain amount of fuel ethanol still has to be produced each year by law, and much of that come from corn. Thus, the amount of corn going into ethanol production won’t budge, regardless of how much corn is actually grown.

    So, if the corn harvest is smaller and the ethanol guys still buy up the required amount, that just leaves less corn for food and feed.

  21. Rhoda R said @ August 14, 2013 at 5:10 am

    Crosspatch: I notice that the corn is very high this year, but is it producing more grain? My tomatoes and cucks are all over the place but they haven’t set much fruit – lack of daylight is my guess or possibly fewer bees due to the wet.

    Fruitset in your cukes is by insect pollination, but tomatoes are self-fertile and the pollen falls from the male part of the flower onto the ovaries. I shake the stalks of my tomato plants mid-morning; commercially growers spray tom-set onto their plants.

    Most likely cause of your poor fruit set is depressed temperatures and excess humidity. If the plants are growing luxuriantly, they will be reluctant to set fruit. Try slicing through a few roots on a couple of plants and see how they respond to a threat to their survival.

  22. Bill Illis says August 14, 2013 at 6:00 am

    In nominal prices, hard to tell what’s going on.

    Drought and/or rain and/or climate does not appear to be the big driver of these prices.

    ‘Free money’ (zero or very low interest cost) to traders (incl commodities traders) who find this an easy area to ‘work'; pls send my thanks (/sarc) to Ben Bernanke for that (the ‘QE’ policy of the Fed) …

    .

  23. Gene Selkov says:
    August 14, 2013 at 5:54 am
    It is said that half the world’s protein comes from the conversion of fossil fuels to nitrogenous fertiliser and thence to plant protein. A Yara fertilisers presentation I read recently showed the results of European wheat yield trial which went from 2 tonnes/hectare without any nitrogenous fertiliser to 8 tonnes/hectare fully fertilised. So locally three quarters of protein consumed comes from fossil fuels. But one day the fossil fuels will run out and certainly become very expensive in the lifetimes of most of the readers of this blog. The University of Minnesota had been experimenting with conversion of wind to ammonia. That work seems to have gone quiet. The good news is that might be viable at $200/bbl on my figuring. Cheap nuclear power will food costs down. Without it, a lot of the world’s population won’t be able to afford food.

  24. So, if the corn harvest is smaller and the ethanol guys still buy up the required amount, that just leaves less corn for food and feed.
    ==============
    I’m told by a mid-west agi research scientist, who also believes agw is a crock, that corn ethanol is good for the farmers. while ethanol production does remove the sugars from the corn, the left-over by-product still makes good hog feed. in effect the price to the farmer is improved because the corn can be sold twice. he wasn’t very concerned about shortages. the better return to the farmer means they will plant more. so maybe corn ethanol production is not quite as simple a problem as it might first appear.

  25. David Archibald:

    In your post at August 14, 2013 at 6:50 am you say

    But one day the fossil fuels will run out and certainly become very expensive in the lifetimes of most of the readers of this blog.

    OK, but I have a question.
    How long after pigs grow wings and fly will that be?

    Richard

  26. But one day the fossil fuels will run out and certainly become very expensive in the lifetimes of most of the readers of this blog.
    ==========
    that is largely an illusion of inflation. 60 years ago gasoline was $0.25 a gallon. Today it is $4 a gallon. However, history shows that every 70 years or so the purchasing power of $1 shrinks to $0.01. So in terms of purchasing power, the cost of gasoline has remain relatively constant for the past 100 years. Which means that oil cannot be “running out”, otherwise it would be reflected in the market price.

    http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/images/charts/Oil/Gasoline_inflation_chart.htm

  27. Bill Illis says August 14, 2013 at 6:00 am

    In an historical context, corn prices today are lower than they have been in the past. The recent ethanol mandates have bumped up prices lately. Wheat is not much that much different than it was in terms of inflation-adjusted prices. Corn and Wheat adjusted for CPI back to 1784 here.

    Which “CPI”? There appear to be several CPI indices including CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), CPI for the Elderly (CPI-E) and Core CPI. Src – wiki

    Additionally, the CPI excludes taxes, such as income and Social Security taxes, and energy and food price changes which are excluded from the Federal Reserve’s calculation of core inflation.

    Core inflation – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Core_inflation – “ The preferred measure by the Federal Reserve of core inflation in the United States is the change in the core Personal consumption expenditures price index (PCE). This index is based on a dynamic consumption basket. Economic variables adjusted by this price deflator are expressed in chained dollars, rather than the alternative constant-dollar measure based on a fixed goods’ basket.

    Back to the graphics:

    In nominal prices, hard to tell what’s going on.

    Perhaps this last chart *is* the better indicator?

    And, an alternate, more open-loop take on inflation from a world-wide perspective and the impact seen by other countries vis-a-vis food-price inflation:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/article/tale-two-inflations-why-us-cpi-flawed-and-why-bernanke-will-maintain-zirp-revolutions-rage

    .

  28. ***
    PeterB in Indianapolis says:
    August 14, 2013 at 5:22 am

    Last year by this date, Central Indiana had close to 40 days with temperatures > 90F for the high, with about 10 over 100F. This year, we have had FOUR (that’s right 4) days with temperatures > 90F for the high, with none over 100F.
    ***

    Similar here in the mid-Appalachians. A mere three days reaching 90F or more — 90,90, and 91F. 50F (cold!) this morning w/breezy winds — alot cooler if it had been calm. Evaporation from well-watered forests & afternoon clouds kept temps down during the so-called heat-wave.

  29. Richard S Courtney says:
    August 14, 2013 at 6:59 am
    The UK is going to run out sooner than most. It has had two Hubbert peaks – coal in 1913 and oil in 1999. You have converted your largest power station to burning woodchips at 7.5 mtpa from the US. You are a worshipper of the Gods of the Market who promise winged pigs and abundance for all. Ok, there could be abundance for all but we are not going to get there on our current trajectory. The UK is importing woodchips to make electric power. What would happen to the price of UK-grown food if you used woodchips to make your nitrogenous fertiliser?

  30. David Archibald said @ August 14, 2013 at 6:50 am

    It is said that half the world’s protein comes from the conversion of fossil fuels to nitrogenous fertiliser and thence to plant protein. A Yara fertilisers presentation I read recently showed the results of European wheat yield trial which went from 2 tonnes/hectare without any nitrogenous fertiliser to 8 tonnes/hectare fully fertilised.

    David, that might apply to a specially selected field, but doesn’t make any sense in what might laughingly be called The Real World. I can recall two papers regarding fertiliser response of cereals in Europe published during the 1980s. Both papers concluded that over a 30 year period the yield increase from artificial fertilisers was ~15% and insufficient to cover the cost of the fertiliser.

    The response of wheat to artificial N is complex. Here’s a link to a WA Dept of Ag page:

    http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/PC_92452.html

    In Australia at least, most bag N is applied to control protein content rather than influence yield. Yield has rather more to do with soil moisture than applied fertilisers.

    It was interesting to hear organic and conventional farmers comparing experiences at a conference I attended in Adelaide in the early 1980s. Cereal growers relying heavily on bag fertiliser had more serious disease problems than those relying on rotation between pasture and sheep with cereals.

  31. GDD is one of several important factors. Another is when the crop was planted. On my southwest Wisconsin dairy farm, everything this year was about two weeks later than normal due to wet and cold–even the wild morel harvest was two weeks late. We had to push until well after midnight for over a week end of May to get the fields finally planted. Another is heat stress (over 95F in dry conditions). Another is moisture during anthesis, which by July means rain. We have been OK on those two. Current outlook is for better than 170 bu/acre, about normal for our area, unless we get an early frost.. Last year because of dryness we barely managed 110. It’s called farming, and even if you have irrigation (we don’t) is always weather dependent.

  32. @ Richard S Courtney
    Superior, sarcastic and ignorant as always – opinion unencumbered by any real information.
    @ David Archibald
    Start watching for those flying pigs . . .

    Worldwide discovery of oil peaked in 1964 and has followed a steady decline since. The world’s leading petroleum geologists agree that more than 95 percent of all recoverable oil has now been found. About 2.5 trillion barrels of conventional oil was in the ground when we started drilling the first well. Continental US oil production peaked in the 1970’s; Alaska’s peaked around 1988, and by 2005, 90% of its oil had been extracted.

    At our current rate of over 30 billion barrels a year, approximately half of the world’s total reserve has been consumed, which means the world is nearing its peak production plateau – estimated to occur between 2014 and 2025. More generous estimates place world peak oil production at around 2050 or later.

    90% of US transportation relies on oil. Our abundant food supply is also oil-based. Since the 1940s, agriculture has dramatically increased its productivity, due largely to the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and increased mechanization. This oil-driven boom in food productivity is called the Green Revolution. The increase in food production has allowed world population to grow dramatically over the last 50 years. Pesticides rely upon oil as a critical ingredient, and fertilizers require natural gas. Farm machinery also requires oil.

    From Wiki leaks it has emerged that Senior Saudi energy officials have privately warned US and European counterparts that OPEC would have an “extremely difficult time” meeting demand and that the reserves of Saudi have been overstated by as much as 40%. A Saudi Aramaco official has been quoted, “Even an attempt to get up to 12 million barrels per day would wreak havoc within a decade by causing damage to the oil fields.”

    Exxon Mobil Corporation, one of the world’s largest publicly owned petroleum companies, is the most forthright of the major oil companies having had the courage and honesty to quietly publish the declining discovery trend, based on sound industry data with reserve revisions properly backdated. Furthermore, the company is running page-size advertisements in European papers stressing the immense challenges to be faced in meeting future energy demand, hinting that the challenges might not be met despite its considerable expertise. Chevron recently joined their campaign publishing an advertisement in national newspapers stating that the ‘Era of Easy Oil is Over.’
    See the full ad at: http://www.oildecline.com/chevron.pdf

    James B

    Comments above excerpted, with edits, from these sites:

    http://www.eia.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/feature_articles/2004/worldoilsupply/oilsupply04.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_depletion

    http://www.oildecline.com/

  33. WASHINGTON, August 12, 2013 –U.S. corn growers are expected to produce a record-high 13.8 billion bushels of corn in 2013, according to the Crop Production report issued today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The forecast production is up 28 percent from drought-hit 2012.

    http://www.nass.usda.gov/Newsroom/2013/08_12_2013.asp

  34. PeterB in Indianapolis says:
    August 14, 2013 at 5:22 am

    Last year by this date, Central Indiana had close to 40 days with temperatures > 90F for the high, with about 10 over 100F. This year, we have had FOUR (that’s right 4) days with temperatures > 90F for the high, with none over 100F.

    Here in New Hampshire we sometimes escape 90s altogether, but this year we’ve had 13, with the last on July 19th. OTOH, we had 7 days in June with a high below 70, it was a wet month.

    Personally, I prefer cool summers, but I do like local corn….

  35. “Rud Istvan says:
    August 14, 2013 at 8:23 am
    Current outlook is for better than 170 bu/acre, about normal for our area, unless we get an early frost.. Last year because of dryness we barely managed 110.”

    I think, with the weather experienced so far, “early frost” is on a lot of farmers’ minds. Every night we get down into the 40’s or close to it lately. Usually early August runs much warmer.

    One thing about the 2500 GDD requirement: a lot of farmers got their corn in very late due to wet fields and turned in their usual seed corn for shorter-maturity varieties. That will help unless there’s an early frost to go along with the late planting.

    As for the WSJ article showing the huge drop in corn prices, I wonder if talk isn’t circulating about removing the ethanol mandate, should the corn crop end up severely reduced. After all, given his recent track record, our President can now apparently just do it unilaterally without any input from Congress.

  36. James B:

    Your post at August 14, 2013 at 8:30 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/13/the-us-corn-belt-and-the-summer-chill/#comment-1389769

    says in total to me

    Superior, sarcastic and ignorant as always – opinion unencumbered by any real information.

    You really, really cannot resist the temptation to make a fool of yourself at every opportunity.

    Had you bothered to use the WUWT search facility you would have found numerous examples which show that – as always – your ignorant, inferior and offensive comment is plain wrong.

    I have repeatedly explained why David Archibald’s assertion is wrong.
    He knows it, regular WUWT readers know it, and you could have known it prior to you again making a fool of yourself.

    For example, here is a comment from me during a thread which discussed one of the articles about Peak Oil by David Archibald on WUWT.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/27/peak-oil-now-for-the-downslope/#comment-780303

    Richard S Courtney says:
    October 28, 2011 at 5:26 am

    Andrew McRae:

    At October 28, 2011 at 1:45 am you assert:

    “The oil optimists commenting here should remember one important logical and practical conclusion:
    There is a world of difference between saying that peak oil has not happened versus saying peak oil will never happen. Peak oil is inevitable due to both physical and economic limits. The only question is when.”

    Your mistaken assertion is supported by some others. For example, Mike Bromley the Kurd says at October 28, 2011 at 2:21 am;
    “The truth? It’s a finite resource. It will run out at some day in the future. And the years approaching that time will be some frikkin’ ugly. Then we will adapt.”

    Sorry, but no. The assertion is an error. In the real world, for all practical purposes there are no “physical” limits to natural resources so every natural resource can be considered to be infinite. This a matter of basic economics which I explain as follows.

    Humans do not run out of anything. The usage of a resource may “peak” then decline, but the usage does not peak because of exhaustion of the resource (e.g. flint, antler bone and bronze each “peaked” long ago but still exist in large amounts).

    A resource is cheap (in time, money and effort) to obtain when it is in abundant supply. But “low-hanging fruit are picked first”, so the cost of obtaining the resource increases with time. Nobody bothers to seek an alternative to the resource when it is cheap.

    But the cost of obtaining an adequate supply of a resource increases with time and, eventually, it becomes worthwhile to look for
    (a) alternative sources of the resource
    and
    (b) alternatives to the resource.

    And alternatives to the resource often prove to have advantages.

    Both (a) and (b) apply in the case of crude oil.

    Many alternative sources have been found. These include opening of new oil fields by use of new technologies (e.g. to obtain oil from beneath sea bed) and synthesising crude oil from other substances (e.g. tar sands, natural gas and coal). Indeed, since 1994 it has been possible to provide synthetic crude oil from coal at competitive cost with natural crude oil and this constrains the maximum true cost of crude.

    Alternatives to oil as a transort fuel are possible. Oil was the transport fuel of military submarines for decades but uranium is now their fuel of choice.

    There is sufficient coal to provide synthetic crude oil for at least the next 300 years. Hay to feed horses was the major transport fuel 300 years ago and ‘peak hay’ was feared in the nineteenth century, but availability of hay is not significant a significant consideration for transportation today. Nobody can know what – if any – demand for crude oil will exist 300 years in the future.

    But you assert;
    “There is a world of difference between saying that peak oil has not happened versus saying peak oil will never happen. Peak oil is inevitable due to both physical and economic limits. The only question is when.”

    That is similar to a neolithic man asserting;
    “There is a world of difference between saying that peak flint has not happened versus saying peak flint will never happen. Peak flint is inevitable due to both physical and economic limits. The only question is when.”

    Your assertion is devoid of any worth.

    Richard

    Richard

    • @ richard –
      Charming as always. It’s clear I’m getting under your skin. I’m having fun.
      I cited authoritative oil industry sources, easily located with a google search, contradicting your assertion. Once again, you sidestepped the actual information presented, masking it with a high-dudgeon snit. Poor Richard.

      In Econ 101, one can assume an unlimited supply of any commodity in the market.
      But in the real world, the finite supply of any non-renewable commodity has an effect on its market value. As supplies dwindle and commodity prices increase, the market shifts to other commodities in response. The oil companies know this – and are addressing it.
      Crops renew annually. Coal and oil do not. The oil companies and the companies that serve them know that too. US peak oil has happened, and world peak oil is projected by authoritative sources, cited – suggesting investment in Pig Airlines.
      I do agree with your description of how markets for commodities operate.
      However, you again assert authoritative information without citing your sources, Any Cambridge schoolboy knows better. For example:
      “There is sufficient coal to provide synthetic crude oil for at least the next 300 years.” Source?
      BTW, you worked for the British coal industry, right?
      (http://www.desmogblog.com/richard-s-courtney)

      You may disagree, but it is clear the use of coal for fuel is contraindicated by two other considerations. First, the global warming contribution from the emissions from the process of converting coal or other materials to fuels, followed by the emissions from fuel combustion itself. In the US for example, transportation generates more than one-third of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions and 30 percent of America’s total global warming emissions, per the US-EPA.

      Second are the public health costs and deaths from pollution created burning coal and other hydrocarbon fuels. I refer you to the 12 June 2013 Guardian article:online – Excerpt: “Air pollution from Europe’s 300 largest coal power stations causes 22,300 premature deaths a year and costs companies and governments billions of pounds in disease treatment and lost working days, says a major study of the health impacts of burning coal to generate electricity.” (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jun/12/european-coal-pollution-premature-deaths)

      Best –
      James B

  37. @David Archibald –

    The UK is importing wood chips to run power plants because the greenie-weenies in the UK won’t allow the power plants to use Coal. It has nothing to do with a lack of supply of hydrocarbon fuels, and everything to do with completely stupid governmental policy.

    If the majority of countries of the world allowed more coal mining and more fracking, the world would have enough coal, oil, and natural gas to run for at least another 250 – 350 years even including growing consumption rates. I don’t know about you, but that goes WELL beyond my lifetime!

    One of the links on the right side of the page here at WUWT is a link to masterresource. You should do some reading there perhaps. We aren’t anywhere near peak-anything when it comes to hydrocarbon supplies.

  38. James B says August 14, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Exxon Mobil Corporation, one of the world’s largest publicly owned petroleum companies, is the most forthright of the major oil companies having had the courage and honesty to quietly publish the declining discovery trend

    Will believe it ONLY when reflected in pricing that respects the reality of decreasing supply to consuming markets (and not just quote: ‘discovery trends’ which may be a potential term of art with specific inherent meaning) rather than monetary supply policy (e.g. QE) from the ‘central planners’ AKA the Federal Reserve et al allowing commodities traders (read that as: investment banks) with QE bucks to bid-up said commodities.

    .

  39. James B,

    Exxon Mobil has declining discovery trends precisely because they completely missed out on the shale boom in the US and elsewhere. Your citations are great propaganda, but they don’t really reflect the reality of the situation, which is that if countries allowed exploration, mining, well drilling, and fracking everywhere that we KNOW FOR A FACT there is recoverable coal, gas, and oil, we would have more than enough for the next 250-350 years including accounting for rising demand.

  40. Wonder what BloodyMess has to say about the cool summer?

    Also, James B, it’s your ignorance that sticks out, no Richard Courtney’s. You utterly disregard the shale revolution and its discovery of literally hundreds of times more hydrocarbon reserves than were previously thought to exist.

  41. Charles Tossy says:
    August 14, 2013 at 2:30 am

    More carbon dioxide in the air means faster growing plants. On the other hand, if it is raining all the time, those twenty ton tractors can’t be taken out into the fields.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Yes and it is STILL soggy on my farm. I have never been able to dig a fence post in clay in the summer before because the ground turns into a brick yet we are still able to dig them easily.

    We have also gotten some nasty thunderstorms with high winds and trees down.

    Aug 12, 2013 Corn Leads Crop Rebound as USDA Cuts Output Forecasts Amid Rains

    Corn futures rebounded in Chicago and soybeans posted the biggest gain in 13 months after the U.S. Department of Agriculture said unusually heavy rains will mean smaller harvests than the records forecast last month.

    U.S. farmers, the world’s largest corn growers, will collect 13.763 billion bushels, less than the 13.95 billion forecast in July and below the 14.036 billion forecast by analysts in a Bloomberg survey, a USDA report today showed. The department predicted soybean output will be 3.255 billion bushels, down from 3.42 billion expected last month and 3.357 billion forecast by analysts….

    …expectations that record harvests would bolster global inventories eroded by a U.S. drought in 2012. Heavy rains in the Midwest during May and June delayed corn and soybean planting, and cool, dry weather during the past month slowed crop development.

    “Cool weather in July hurt yield potential more than expected, and now the markets are adding a weather-risk premium,” said Dale Durchholz, the senior market analyst for AgriVisor LLC in Bloomington, Illinois. “The smaller U.S. corn and soybean crops were a surprise and will increase the importance for an extended growing season.”

    Crop Yields

    Average corn yields this year may reach 154.4 bushels an acre, down from 156.5 estimated in July and up from 123.4 in 2012. …Harvested acreage was forecast at 89.1 million acres this year, unchanged from last month, the USDA said.

    Domestic reserves of corn on Aug. 31, 2014, before next year’s harvest, will total 1.837 billion bushels, down from 1.959 billion (49.77 million metric tons) forecast in July, the USDA said…. Inventories before the start of this year’s harvest will total 719 million bushels, compared with 729 million forecast a month earlier and 989 million last year.….

  42. Outrageous Ampersand says:
    August 14, 2013 at 6:00 am
    …So, if the corn harvest is smaller and the ethanol guys still buy up the required amount, that just leaves less corn for food and feed.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Cow corn is used to make ethanol. The Sheep and Goat feeds I use are pelleted and mainly Distillers Grains By-products sometimes called Processed Grain ByProducts. SEE: The Value and Use of Distillers Grains By-products in Livestock and Poultry Feeds

  43. David Archibald says: @ August 14, 2013 at 6:50 am
    ….A Yara fertilisers presentation I read recently showed the results of European wheat yield trial which went from 2 tonnes/hectare without any nitrogenous fertiliser to 8 tonnes/hectare fully fertilised. So locally three quarters of protein consumed comes from fossil fuels…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    David, a very promising breakthrough was made.

    Breakthrough Technology Enables Crops To Take Nitrogen From The Air — Effective Means To Replace Nitrogen Fertilizers Developed
    A potentially “world-changing” technology has been developed by researchers at the University of Nottingham — a means of enabling any type of crop to take nitrogen from the air. In other words, an effective means of phasing out expensive and environmentally damaging nitrogen fertilizers…..

    The University of Nottingham writes:

    Nitrogen fixation, the process by which nitrogen is converted to ammonia, is vital for plants to survive and grow. However, only a very small number of plants, most notably legumes (such as peas, beans and lentils) have the ability to fix their own nitrogen from the air. The vast majority of plants have to obtain nitrogen from the soil, and for most crops currently being grown across the world, this also means a reliance on synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.

    Professor Edward Cocking, Director of The University of Nottingham’s Centre for Crop Nitrogen Fixation, has developed a unique method of putting nitrogen-fixing bacteria into the cells of plant roots. His major breakthrough came when he found a specific strain of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in sugar-cane which he discovered could intracellularly colonize all major crop plants. This ground-breaking development potentially provides every cell in the plant with the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen. The implications for agriculture are enormous as this new technology can provide much of the plant’s nitrogen needs.….

    http://cleantechnica.com/2013/08/03/crops-nitrogen-fixing-from-air/

  44. I did not read every comment, but…

    Increased CO2 increase yield in C3 plants like soybean and trees, it does not increase yield in C4 plants, like corn.

    Corn has been a key crop in Iowa since the 1920’s and maybe earlier. Corn is a tropical plant but selection has adapted almost worldwide, from the tropics to Alberta.

    Corn does have a GDD requirement, but it is not absolute. Corn also senses circadian periods (day length) and thus much of the corn will dry down a bit later but not require the exact GDD so this is unlikely to matter much unless we get an early frost.

  45. The Pompous Git says: @ August 14, 2013 at 8:22 am

    ….It was interesting to hear organic and conventional farmers comparing experiences at a conference I attended in Adelaide in the early 1980s. Cereal growers relying heavily on bag fertiliser had more serious disease problems than those relying on rotation between pasture and sheep with cereals.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I am not surprised to hear that. Crop rotation including pastures and hay has been an agricultural main stay for centuries. Also Sheep Sh1t Errr organic fertilizer builds soil and holds moisture better than a bag of commercial fertilizer.

    We have gotten away with monoculture farming and NOT using rotation for the last sixty or so years because of commercial fertilizer, herbicides and insecticides but ultimately you ruin the soil as my farm shows. Lost over two feet of loam since the soil survey done in the 1940’s so now I have 98% pure clay. It was sold CHEAP because it could no longer produce a crop.

  46. Reblogged this on The Next Grand Minimum and commented:
    It is all about the length of the growing season. Annual trends of shorter growing season, is a clear indicator we are on the cusp of the Next Grand Minimum. Stay tuned for the frost reports on northern edge of the corn belt.

  47. _Jim:

    Re your post at August 14, 2013 at 9:41 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/13/the-us-corn-belt-and-the-summer-chill/#comment-1389837

    You are right that “discovery trend” is a meaningless statistic. And the reason you are right is why crude oil reserves were ~40 years throughout the last century and will be ~40 years throughout this century.

    Oil companies need a maximum planning horizon of ~40 years.
    So if a company has less than 40 years of reserves then it pays for the discovery of more.
    And if it has more than 40 years of reserves then it doesn’t pay people to find more.

    A reduction in the discovery rate of a company merely indicates the company has discovered sufficient reserves for the next ~40 years.

    Richard

    PS
    Reserves are the amount of a mineral which can be obtained at economic cost.
    Resources are the amount of a mineral which can be obtained using existing or imagined technology.

  48. Echoing many other comments here.
    I live near DeKalb Illinois, corn capital of maybe the world.

    Cold weather is upon us. Tonight it will get down to 52F, hardly normal August temperatures.

    I also have lots of tomatoes on the plant, but most are still green, ripening delayed by the cool nights I believe.

  49. James B:

    re your post at August 14, 2013 at 11:34 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/13/the-us-corn-belt-and-the-summer-chill/#comment-1389966

    Thankyou for the compliment. Perhaps you could try to be charming, too?
    You are not “getting under my skin” but your mindless blather is annoying.

    I gave you clear argument and information.
    As usual, you provided links to information you don’t understand and doesn’t say what you assert.

    Please attempt to provide sensible comments. Your attempts to be disruptive waste space on threads.

    Richard

  50. An early frost will merely depress yields; it doesn’t mean crop failure. Late maturing corn is a problem but not a disaster. It’s amazing we grow so much corn in northern latitudes these days. If the weather routinely shortened the growing season, North Dakota might go back to wheat, sunflowers and flax. As long as corn’s price stays high, they’ll continue to take their risks with corn. Nothing yields usable carbohydrates like corn. It is an amazing food plant.

  51. “Air pollution from Europe’s 300 largest coal power stations causes 22,300 premature deaths a year”

    Oh, good God, not ‘premature deaths’ again.

    Last time I looked at a report of ‘premature deaths’, what the actual study actually said was that people who were going to die of some horrible disease were probably dying up to two weeks earlier than they would have done in pollution-free utopia, but they couldn’t be certain because they’d just guessed many numbers for which they could find no legitimate studies, so the real number of ‘premature deaths’ could be half or less of the headline numbers.

    Like so much of modern ‘science’, ‘premature deaths’ is a meaningless term used to sex up boring studies that show no real harmful impact.

  52. I wouldn’t get too worked up about corn. To quote a North Dakota farming family friend: “corn is a weed, you can grow it anywhere”. He’s right. Corn is grown from sea level to right here in Colorado at 5 to 6 k ft. Sure there are problems in different areas but there is so much planted everywhere that it is hard to put a dent in the crop. And there are always more places to plant corn. I grew up in Southern Ohio; it was planted on the bottoms and it was planted on the ridges. There were good years, and bad. That’s just the way it is.

  53. James B.

    Your arguments are contraindicated by several facts:

    1. It wastes more energy to convert corn into fuel than it does to convert coal, oil, or natural gas into fuel.

    2. Converting corn into fuel ultimately produces MORE CO2 than burning any of the more efficient types of fuel, because REGARDLESS of what you burn, the products of combustion are ALWAYS going to be CO2 + H2O, so you are better off burning more efficient, higher energy-density fuels for energy.

    3. You have to PROVE that human-caused global warming actually exists (which it apparently hasn’t for going on 18 years now) before the amount of CO2 produced by humans is of any concern whatsoever. The so-called (and non-existent) consensus is not proof.

    4. “Premature Deaths” is the most bogus statistic in the universe. Life has a 100% mortality rate. If you are born, you are guaranteed to die. If you don’t want people to die, then apparently you need to abort all of them while they are still in the womb, since we are told that a majority of people don’t actually believe that they are live people yet at that point. There is no way of knowing when someone is “supposed to die”, so there is no way of knowing if their death is “premature” or not.

    • @Peter B –
      It’s called projection, Peter B.
      I don’t hold all of the positions indicated in your questions.
      Psychology 101 – Projection. You ‘projected’ your beliefs about what I must think onto me, and wrote the questions to match. Which actually reveals more about you;
      Everybody does it – me too. Let’s take them by the numbers.
      1. Perhaps, but I doubt it – you gotta show me the data. Compare total energy consumed per liter/gallon of fuel produced, from planting to gas tank or mining/extraction to tank. Biofuels have an advantage, they are renewable (plants), coal/oil/gas are not.
      Bigger issue for all transportation are CO2, and all other GHG emissions (I don’t care if you agree, validated by 98% of climate science studies worldwide). Natural gas = methane, approx. 50x CO2’s global warming potential.
      Biggest issue is creating transportation systems w/ 0% GHG emissions – many very smart people working on this, that’s another topic.
      2. Transportation doesn’t burn coal anymore, and it depends on the engine used – but again, provide reliable scientific data supporting your assertion.
      3. Wrong my friend. Science doesn’t prove things, it measures them. Here’s a simple explanation of how scientific work is done – if 100 scientists get very similar measurements from the same experiment, then they all agree that what they measured is reliable – it’s true. That’s scientific consensus – you can call that proof. If you disagree, then you have to show that the experiment itself is invalid, or the interpretation of the data result is incorrect. That result also has to be replicable, multiple times.
      In the case of AGW, there is a,significant consensus (IPCC, 90+%, over decades of studies) in the scientific community that the increased heat in our planetary systems (earth/air/water) they are measuring is human-caused, from a number of sources.
      4. Bull. Call it what you like, but read the article, then tell me what you think.

      Thanks for your honest straightforward questions.
      James B
      Chicago

  54. Someone asked about corn crop production in the 60’s & 70’s versus recently. I couldn’t find statistics by state (probably could with much more research time.) But here are some corn yields from the USDA:
    60’s 70’s 80’s 90’s 2000,s
    3,906.95 4,152.24 6,639.40 7,934.03 9,915.05
    3,597.80 5,646.26 8,118.65 7,474.77 9,502.58
    3,606.31 5,579.83 8,235.10 9,476.70 8,966.79
    4,019.24 5,670.71 4,174.25 6,337.73 10,087.29
    3,484.25 4,701.40 7,672.13 10,050. 11,805.58
    4,102.87 5,840.76 8,875.45 7,400.05 11,112.19
    4,167.61 6,289.17 8,225.76 9,232.56 10,531.12
    4,860.37 6,505.04 7,131.30 9,206.83 13,037.88
    4,449.54 7,267.93 4,928.68 9,758.69 12,091.65
    4,687.06 7,928.14 7,531.95 9,430.61 13,091.86
    40,882. 59,581. 71,532. 86,302. 110,141.99 Totals

    So it looks like yields have gone up an average of 20-25% per decade since the 1960s.
    From: http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/feed-grains-database/feed-grains-yearbook-tables.aspx#26761

    Also, since that has be an agricultural related topic, I would like to thank all of the farmers for our food. My great grandfather came from France to farm in upstate New York & my grandfather grew up on a farm in Batavia, NY. When I was a child in the 1950’s grandpa had a corn patch out in the back yard.

  55. I agree with the elevated risk of freeze damage to corn and beans this year. Damaging freezes in the Cornbelt/Midwest are rare events though. The last time we had one of significance was September 1995.
    That freeze event started on Sept 21 in the Western Cornbelt but did the most damage on the mornings of Sept 22 and Sept 23 in the Eastern Cornbelt, especially in IL/IN.

    If you want to view exactly how that one happened synoptically, go to this link. Its best (for me) to not use the loop boxes and only put in a current date thats at least 10 days before the events, then advance manually using the + options(either by 24 hours or 12 hours). This way, you can let everything soak in/analyze and when your ready, go to the next map. You can put in a current date of 1995-year 09-month 01-day 00-cycle and use the + option to head forward.

    http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/ncepreanal/

    Just summarizing the event from 9-1-95. The Midwest and Plains has seen a hot/dry late Summer and that continued with an upper level high thru the first few days in Sept.

    The heat helped our crops to mature quicker(especially corn that advances with heat units/growing degree days). However some places, especially the beans in the Eastern Cornbelt were still behind because of a wet Spring and late planting.

    The first sign of a big pattern change, gave us a sneak peak early in the 2nd week when we saw some weak upper level ridging in western Canada and a deep upper low in the vicinity of n.Hudson Bay area. The amplification of these features would be required to flush south cold air from very high latitudes later in the month.

    Extreme amplification is exactly what happened, thanks to an extraordinarily strong(for Sept) 150+ mph jet stream roaring across the Pacific.

    On 9-17, you can see that Pacific jet, just coming into this picture from off to the northwest of the view.

    This powerful jet carving out a very deep upper level low in the northeast Pacific that amplifies into an incredibly intense storm in the vicinity of the Gulf of Alaska towards the end of the 3rd week of Sept, causes the flow downstream to buckle hard.

    The upper high in western Canada gets pumped into a massive feature and all the energy associated with the Hudson Bay low east of the high just digs straight south towards the US.

    With time, the upper high actually gets pumped more n/northeast and becomes positively tilted(which can maximize the meridional flow southward downstream) as the upper low, originally to its east, digs straight south and even southwest, well into the Plains states, then the Midwest.

    On 9-17, as these features are amplifying, a very cold air mass with 850 temps less than -10C is in central to northern Canada, poised to dive south, following the anomalous flow between the upper high and digging trough.

    For the next several days, the pattern intensifies and cold air plunges bodily into the Plains and Midwest. The mornings of 9-22/23 were the coldest in outlying areas(farms) of IL and w.IN with readings in the mid 20’s and some colder spots in the low 20’s.

    It had not rained for a long time and top soils were bone dry. This contributed to the temperature plunge, under clear skies and calm winds at the center of the surface high with dew points, as I recall well down into the 20’s. Dry air has less heat capacity and with the inversions under ideal radiational cooling like this, dry soils don’t modify the coldest(dry) air near the surface as much as moist soils. My guess is we were at least 5 degrees colder than what would have occurred with a moist top soil.

    Many soybeans still had all green leaves before this event, evidence that they still needed a good 2-3 weeks to mature(my estimate at that time).
    Several days after the freezes, some fields turned to almost a blackish color, while other fields stayed green and some fields having both green regions and black one.

    This was evidence of the cold air drainage that took place, with many of the most damaged soybeans located in the lower lying areas.

    Other evidence of this here in southwest IN, was the coldest reading at the Evansville airport stayed well above freezing(37 might have been the lowest if I recall).
    Yet at my house, 5 miles north, the water in my garden hose completely froze on 2 successive nights.

    That airport thermometer was 5 feet off the ground and also closer to the city. My garden hose and those soybean plants were in the country and closer to the ground. Radiational cooling nights often feature strong inversions with much colder temperatures in the lower 5 feet of the atmosphere.

    A pattern like this in September is extremely rare…………………..and we haven’t had anything like it since. I have no doubt that its happened before and will happen again.

    In fact, in 1974 we had what they called a great Labor Day freeze, 3 weeks earlier than this. Not as cold but probably more damage because it was even earlier.

    Use your starting date to view that one as:
    1974-year 8-month 26-day 00-cycle

    http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/ncepreanal/

  56. “However, it seems to me that a certain amount of fuel ethanol still has to be produced each year by law, and much of that come from corn. Thus, the amount of corn going into ethanol production won’t budge, regardless of how much corn is actually grown. So, if the corn harvest is smaller and the ethanol guys still buy up the required amount, that just leaves less corn for food and feed.”

    False … Last year a perfect example – with the far lower crop production as a result of drought the ethanol industry reduced their consumption by almost the entire shortfall in corn crop production. You can search here for my posts on corn production and ethanol and find details.

    In effect the ethanol segment of corn production acts as a large and useful corn “reserve” system. If we have a poor crop the industry is able to modify their production, and use of corn, to accommodate.

  57. James B:

    re your post at August 14, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/13/the-us-corn-belt-and-the-summer-chill/#comment-1390124

    You again demonstrate your complete ignorance of science. For example, this sentence

    That’s scientific consensus – you can call that proof.

    Consensus has no place in science; e.g. Einstein’s response to the 100 scientists.

    Mathematics provides “proof” but science does not: science seeks falsification.

    I offer you the helpful suggestion that you stick to architecture and ask us scientists about science because your repeatedly stating profound scientific ignorance is wasting space on threads.

    Richard

  58. Minnesota expects 2nd largest corn crop in history

    http://www.startribune.com/local/219409041.html

    Even considering the late start, the excessive rain early, and the cooler than normal temps, the MN corn crop is expected to be in record territory … weather is forecast to warm considerably over next several weeks and into early Sept, which will only help.

    Some farmers are predicting near 200 bushel/acre yields – far above the national average expected at around 154 bu/acre

  59. James B,

    “1. Perhaps, but I doubt it – you gotta show me the data. Compare total energy consumed per liter/gallon of fuel produced, from planting to gas tank or mining/extraction to tank. Biofuels have an advantage, they are renewable (plants), coal/oil/gas are not.
    Bigger issue for all transportation are CO2, and all other GHG emissions (I don’t care if you agree, validated by 98% of climate science studies worldwide). Natural gas = methane, approx. 50x CO2′s global warming potential.
    Biggest issue is creating transportation systems w/ 0% GHG emissions – many very smart people working on this, that’s another topic.”

    Here’s the data for you James. Corn for ethanol is the one of the dumbest things in history. I would say “THE” dumbest and unprecedented regarding the fraudulent, manipulated data to perpetrate this total ruinous, extraordinarily expensive scam using politics, propaganda and false rhetoric(lies)……………. but CO2 as pollution beats it out.

    http://www.au.af.mil/au/ssq/digital/pdf/spring_13/kiefer.pdf

  60. Quote from Mr. Archibald’s article

    To illustrate the problem in parts of the Corn Belt, Figure 2 shows the average Growing Degree Days (GDD) experienced in Northwest Indiana, fairly close to the center of the Corn Belt:
    …”

    [+emphasis]
    For those of you who didn’t notice — as I didn’t at first glance — the term GDD is explained along with a link for amplification on it.

  61. mark fraser said @ August 14, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Well, won’t THAT put organic farmers on the horns of a dilemma!

    No, why would it? Organic farmers supply a market that demands GMO-free produce. The introduction of yet another GMO crop is, to say the least, irrelevant.

  62. GDD buries two factors for Corn growth – the first is the temp at which corn grows best and the second is the flux of solar energy coupled with the length of the day. The latter falls off precipitously in late August and as such a GDD on August 1 is VERY different from the same one on Sept 1. Plant growth will essentially stop when the latter reaches a critical point.

    The graphs on this post are fine, but…lets actually get some data. The easiest way to know how the crop is doing is to walk into a field and pull an ear and look at the kernels. I would challenge a WT reader or two in MN, Iowa, NE to go do this and post the pics of a slice through the ear.

  63. James B says:
    August 14, 2013 at 11:34 am

    > @ richard –
    > Charming as always. It’s clear I’m getting under your skin. I’m having fun.

    I would have read more if you were being informative.

  64. eng says:
    August 15, 2013 at 5:57 am

    46F (6.5C) this morning in the mid-Appalachians. Jeesh — it’s Aug 15th!
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.
    Tell me about it. 11:00 am in mid North Carolina, sunny and it was 64F and it is FINALLY starting to warm. Feels like mid-September

  65. @Mike Maguire –

    Re: Corn-based ethanol biofuels
    Thanks for your citation.
    I agree with you, and so do many environmentalists. Corn – the largest source of ethanol produced in the U.S.- is bad agribusiness with high production costs and significant environmental impacts from cultivation, fuel production, and use. See citations at the end of this post for details.

    There are sources for ethanol (methyl alcohol) with lower environmental impact than corn. Ethanol from cellulose sources – corncobs, straw, sawdust, and crops such as switchgrass – are being developed and have lower impact than corn production. The PNAS/National Academy of Sciences study “Climate change and health costs of air emissions from biofuels and gasoline” quantifies, determines costs and, “compares the life-cycle climate-change and health effects of … emissions gasoline, corn ethanol, and cellulosic ethanol.” It shows impact costs for celluosic ethanol was significantly lower, averaging 35% of the cost of gasoline fuel. The lowest corn ethanol fuel costs were the same as to gasoline, highest were 200% of gasoline cost.

    Argonne National Laboratory analyzed the greenhouse gas emissions of many different engine and fuel combinations. Comparing ethanol blends with gasoline alone, they showed reductions of 8% with the biodiesel/petrodiesel blend known as B20, 17% with the conventional E85 ethanol blend, and that using cellulosic ethanol lowers emissions 64%.

    Best –
    James B
    Chicago

    1.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanolhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn_ethanol
    2.) PNAS/National Academy of Sciences study: “Climate change and health costs of air emissions from biofuels and gasoline”: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/02/02/0812835106.full.pdf
    3.) PNAS/National Academy of Sciences study: “Corn-based ethanol production compromises goal of reducing nitrogen export by the Mississippi River”: http://www.pnas.org/content/105/11/4513.full.pdf
    4.) @ Treehugger.com – Author Eric Leech, “New Study Finds Corn-based Ethanol More Harmful Than Oil-based Gasoline” by Eric Leech, February 7, 2009: http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/new-study-finds-corn-based-ethanol-more-harmful-than-oil-based-gasoline.html
    5.) Argonne Labratories Fuel Comparison Study, cited online at: The Biofuels FAQs, The Biofuels Source Book, Energy Future Coalition, United Nations Foundation: http://www.energyfuturecoalition.org/biofuels/benefits_env_public_health.

  66. James B says August 15, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Resistant to reason and impervious to logic; on the other hand it has been said that its difficult for a man to understand something completely contrary when his very paycheck relies on the nonsense he ‘peddles’ (or is paid to peddle?) …

    .

  67. JAMESB SAYS
    First, the global warming contribution from the emissions from the process of converting coal or other materials to fuels, followed by the emissions from fuel combustion itself. In the US for example, transportation generates more than one-third of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions and 30 percent of America’s total global warming emissions, per the US-EPA.
    HENRY SAYS
    since we do not know what the problem is – if it is bad
    it is better to go back to the real science
    and try to understand

    http://blogs.24.com/henryp/2013/04/29/the-climate-is-changing/

  68. For those interested
    Corn Growth Stage Development: http://weedsoft.unl.edu/documents/growthstagesmodule/corn/corn.htm#

    Corn typically takes 125 days after emergence to mature. You need ground temps over ~ 55F for the seed to break dormancy.

    The Agronomy Dept.at Purdue Univ. says, When soils warm to the mid-50′s or warmer, emergence will occur in seven days or less if soil moisture is adequate. Thermal time from planting to emergence is approximately 115 growing degree days (GDDs) using the modified growing degree formula (Nielsen, 2008) with air temperatures or about 119 GDDs based on soil temperatures. A graph of mean temperature vs emergence link shows you really want the temperature above 56°F where the inflection point of the curve is. Otherwise the seed is just sitting in the ground waiting for the correct temperature to be reached and therefore at risk.

    Heat Unit Concepts Related to Corn Development:
    Growth and development of corn are strongly dependent on temperature. Corn develops faster when temperatures are warmer and more slowly when temperatures are cooler. For example, a string of warmer than normal days in late spring will encourage faster leaf development than normal. Another example is that a cooler than normal grain filling period will delay the calendar date of grain maturity

    Comment from this spring on a The Farm Journal article from a cynical farmer…

    The truth is that the northern plains still has frozen ground!! And the snow is not gone in much of the Midwest and northern Midwest. Once it is – it will take days of hot dry weather to dry it out. We are already into late May in much of the northern Midwest now. If you farm 2000 – 10000 acres like many farms do – how are you going to get it all in??
    And if you do – what kind of yield is already lost!!??
    Come on Jerry – if you are a farmer then you know there are some very serious issues here. Why are you trying to keep the market depressed. Always stating that the crop will miraculously all get in and that farmers will go 24 HOURS!! Wow really?? And Jerry is a farmer?? Why would a farmer run his own markets down with such talk??!
    The United States now has a 60 day food supply instead of the historical 90 day supply. We are one disastrous crop year away from serious trouble and this is the type of analysis we get from a FARMER??

    Tasseling or polination

    Corn Knee-High by Fourth of July But Not Tasseling Yet

    …This year many fields were past knee-high by the Fourth of July, or will be, but only a few around the Midwest will be tasseling. Planting was delayed across the Corn Belt enough that ‘waist-high’ by the Fourth of July is what many people are hoping for this time….

    Some areas have had so much rain, especially in Iowa and in pockets of Indiana, that small corn may still be under water by the Fourth of July, or there may be spots where the crop didn’t make it…..

    One factor favoring corn planted in late May or later is that it requires about 200 fewer heat units to reach maturity than the same hybrid if it had been planted in later April or very early May. Bob Nielsen at Purdue and Peter Tomlinson at Ohio State University documented this phenomenon several years ago.

    There may be some limit on yield potential that goes along with it, however.

    So figure the corn emerged June 1, and it takes 125 days on average to mature. You are pushing October first or later for full maturity. So what happens if you get a frost?
    The chart included is for the number of days from tasseling.

    Frost Damage

    Late Season – If a killing frost occurs before grain fill is complete, yield potential and quality could be affected. A killing frost can occur when the temperature in the crop canopy drops from 32F to 28F for a short time (5-10 minutes) or if the canopy temperature stays at 32F for 4 to 5 hours. This is adequate to kill the entire plant. A lighter frost of 30-32F lasting an hour or two, could kill leaves but not the stalk or ear shank. When only a portion of the leaves are killed, those not killed can continue to function and contribute to grain yield if good growing conditions follow frost. The effect of late season frost on killing leaves at various growth stages are shown below:
    Development … Days after Pollination … % of Total Yield … % Yield Loss
    Early Dent ……………………….. 35 ……………………. 68 ……………….. 32
    Dent ……………………………….. 40 ……………………. 77 ……………… 23
    Late Dent ………………………… 45 ……………………. 85 ……………… 15
    Half Milk Line ………………….. 50 ……………………. 92 ………………… 8
    Mature …………………………… 65 …………………… 100 ………………… 0

    So figuring tasseling the second week of July you need no frost before mid September or you get crop reduction.

  69. The contribution of the corn crop here in Central MN to the US total is minor, however, famers have all ready begun stripping their fields for feed silage sold at a fraction of recent year’s prices.

    The fields are mathematically eliminated from reaching maturity. Highs will climb back into the 80s next week but lows will continue in the 50s leaving the ground cool to mid-day.

  70. gary gulrud says: @ August 15, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    The fields are mathematically eliminated from reaching maturity. Highs will climb back into the 80s next week but lows will continue in the 50s leaving the ground cool to mid-day.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I am in mid North Carolina and we were 63F til midday today. Usually we are in the high eighties or nineties…. Weird. I did not see the corn go in on my street until close to the first of June. Too wet and cold.

  71. ***
    James B says:
    August 14, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Second are the public health costs and deaths from pollution created burning coal and other hydrocarbon fuels. I refer you to the 12 June 2013 Guardian article:online – Excerpt: “Air pollution from Europe’s 300 largest coal power stations causes 22,300 premature deaths a year and costs companies and governments billions of pounds in disease treatment and lost working days, says a major study of the health impacts of burning coal to generate electricity.”
    ***

    I feel sorry for you if you actually believe that. A mind is a terrible thing to lose…

  72. @James B
    “Argonne National Laboratory analyzed the greenhouse gas emissions of many different engine and fuel combinations. Comparing ethanol blends with gasoline alone, they showed reductions of 8% with the biodiesel/petrodiesel blend known as B20, 17% with the conventional E85 ethanol blend, and that using cellulosic ethanol lowers emissions 64%.”

    Those that advertise corn ethanol as contributing less greenhouse gas emissions, have always(in my book) been telling a lie about the lie.
    1. If analyzing all the many factors that go into producing the corn(easily the highest polluting crop) ethanol causes MORE not less pollution.
    2. CO2 isn’t pollution. This should get 0(zero) weighting regarding corn ethanol

    When a battle over ethanol takes place between the 2 opposing sides and greenhouse gas emission become the focus of the debate, it’s like a discussion over whether exercise is good or bad for your health and the focus becomes television viewing habits.

    Some people might watch tv on their exercise bike/treadmill and people that watch tv all day probably dont exercise much but that has nothing to do with whether exercise is good or bad for health.

    Growing corn causes more pollution than any other crop. It also uses alot of natural resources. Irrigated corn and ethanol plants use tremendous amounts of water.
    Doing this for food is not only justifiable, it’s necessarily and worth the negative consequences.

    Doing this for an inefficient fuel to substitute for another fuel that we already have in abundance that beats out ethanol in almost every measuring category is the 2nd dumbest scientifically based scam perpetrated on the human race.
    CO2 as pollution is number 1.

  73. Mike Maguire says: @ August 16, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    ….Growing corn causes more pollution than any other crop. It also uses alot of natural resources. Irrigated corn and ethanol plants use tremendous amounts of water.
    Doing this for food is not only justifiable, it’s necessarily and worth the negative consequences….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I will agree with you there. Corn is very hard on the land.

    The only reason we have Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations is because the US government uses taxpayer money to pay for the corn. Otherwise grass-fed beef/hogs would be more economically viable. Poultry has to be housed or you lose too many to predators.

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