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Corn is popping

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June 16, 2008

That sweet corn that's so popular this time of year will probably cost you more than last year.

Prices are up because so much corn is now being used to make ethanol.

The supply could be hurt even more by flooding in the Midwest.

But those higher prices are good news for Georgia farmers.

If you've driven in rural South Georgia lately, you've seen it in some of the fields.  And even if you've just stayed in town you've seen it in the stores. Corn is in season.  Most of Georgia's corn is grown in our area on land like the farm that Mark Grimes and his partners own in Dougherty and Worth Counties.

"Between all three of us about 900 acres of corn.", said Grimes.

And the corn business is doing well this year.  So how much more per bushel are Mark and his partners getting compared to what they got last year?

"Uh, it's up good now.  It's up probably 40% over last year.", said Grimes

And the price could continue to rise since most of the nation's corn is grown in the Midwest. Much of the corn crop in that part of the country is in danger due to flooding.  So what could that mean for Georgia's farmers?

"Yeah I think the local farmers now, if they can produce a crop, they're in the driver's seat." said Rusty Harris of the UGA Extension Office in Worth County.

Water is the one thing that Midwestern farmers don't need, it is a must for farmers here in Georgia.  The soils here don't retain the water that they do farther north. In fact Mark told us that his crop had be watered almost non-stop during the month of May.  But water is not the only factor that drives up costs.

"Fertilizer's up 30-35% over last year.  So our price increase is needed to offset our input increases." said Gwines

And since fertilizer is made from petroleum, and since the irrigation system on his farm runs on diesel fuel, the rise in prices at the pump has hurt him and other farmers just as much as it's hurt the rest of us.  But no matter what the price, the corn that we take to our picnic in the park will still be as sweet as ever.  Even if it is a little more expensive.

Grady County is Georgia's top corn county with 1.7-million bushels produced.

About 63 percent of the state's corn crop is grown on irrigated land.

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