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The turmoil in the nation's breadbasket led the Agriculture Department this week to shave 3% from this year's corn crop prediction, a rare move so early in the season. Corn topped $7 a bushel for the first time as heavy rains in Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin — combined with growing demand for corn-based ethanol — pushed prices up.
"It's clearly a panic situation," said Gary Rhea, president of Risk Management Partners, a marketing firm here.
As much as one-quarter of the crops in the southern third of Wisconsin may be gone, said Paul Zimmerman of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. "We're talking a couple hundred thousand acres of corn that could be in jeopardy" and a comparable amount of soybeans, he said.