CBSN

Midwest Harvests El Nino Crop

In central Ohio, the corn is tasseling about two weeks early and the fruit trees are laden with a bumper crop - an El Nino crop, CBS News Correspondent Jacqueline Adams reports.

"This year has been exceptional. We've had just the right amount of rain," said farmer Steve Smoke.

All winter, Smoke watched El Nino devastate crops in California and Texas, but for him, the abnormal weather system has been a blessing.

Smoke said the benevolent weather was producing apples and peaches at least doube the size of normal.

And Grapes?

"Oh, they're gonna be about triple. Nice big clusters!" Smoke said.

For Smoke, bigger fruit means bigger profits.

"People like big. Big sells," he said.

Meteorologists say they saw this same phenomenon here in the Midwest during the first recorded El Nino, back in 1982 and 1983: a mild winter and plenty of moisture during the spring.

Jim Ramey knows better than anyone. He's spent 30 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, keeping an eye on Midwest crops.

Ramey said the weather conditions were "as close to perfect as I've seen."

Despite a few pockets of flooding, Ramey said, El Nino has helped Midwest wheat and soybeans as well as fruit and corn.

Farmers escaped the typical spring freeze, and drought doesn't appear in the weather forecast for much of the eastern Corn Belt: Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

Despite their good fortune, most Midwest farmers aren't ready to gloat. El Nino may have helped crops so far but the weather can change in an instant and the growing and harvesting seasons are far from over.

©1998 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved