Last year's drought sent corn prices soaring, and this year, US farmers are looking to take advantage of it. They're set to plant the biggest corn crop the country has seen since 1936, USA Today reports, sowing some 97.3 million acres of the commodity. Right now, corn inventories are at their lowest since 2004, standing at some 5.4 billion bushels. A giant soybean crop is planned, too—the fourth-largest in history at 77.1 million acres. That's a slight decline from last year.
But weather "is the wild card," says a commodities official in Iowa. While Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio have recently seen a boost in precipitation, Iowa and the Great Plains are still suffering dry conditions. Things are improving in Iowa, with three-quarters of the state in moderate to exceptional drought; when the year began, it was the whole state. But "a year ago, it was kind of the same thing—we thought we had it all going fine," says the official. "In order to get by to next year, we're going to have to raise a big crop."