Corn prices tumble to 3-year low

Agricultural , Commodities , Corn , USA Jul 31, 2013 No Comments

CornCBOT corn for September delivery ended down 2-3/4 cents at $4.89-1/4 a bushel after bottoming out at $4.88-1/4 earlier in the session. The intraday low was the lowest price for front-month corn since $4.87-3/4 on Oct. 7, 2010.

New-crop corn for December delivery fell again, down 2-3/4 cents to $4.73-1/4 a bushel. December corn has fallen six days in a row and eight of the last nine sessions.

Rain might have ruined midsummer cookouts, but the soggy weather has produced the best corn conditions in the past five years, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture reports USDA crop progress report - July 2013.

More than three-fourths of Ohio’s corn crop was in good or excellent condition as of July 21, compared with 15 percent at the same time last year when scorching heat caused a drought that threatened local farmers’ crops, according to USDA reports.

Kansas, Colorado, and Missouri are suffering poor corn conditions due to the high levels of drought in the region. However, soaking rain helped ease the drought in the region, giving corn conditions a much-needed boost.

Meanwhile, the corn crop in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Tennessee is flourishing thanks mainly to rainfall. Over 80 percent of the corn crop in these three states received either a good or an excellent rating for this month.

In 2012, persistent ridges of high pressure over the eastern part of the country prevented cooler weather conditions from infiltrating the area; that led to an intense drought and several days with temperatures higher than 100 degrees, said Mike Kurz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

By mid-June 2012, Ohio’s corn condition declined to its lowest point in the past five years and remained poor or fair for the rest of the season, according to USDA records.

This year, meteorologists with the National Weather Service’s Wilmington region, which covers most of Ohio and parts of Indiana and Kentucky, reported 33 straight days of rainfall in its region between June 21 and July 24, Kurz said. Alexandria in Licking County received 11.93 inches of rain during that time. Lancaster received 8.55 inches of rain.

Moisture in the ground should keep corn healthy even if August temperatures increase, said Peter Thomison, a professor and agronomist at Ohio State University.

However, corn maturity is lagging over much of the nation, with just 8 percent of corn entering the dough stage. This is less than half of the five-year average and 27 percentage points below last year’s report.

As corn prices have fallen and gasoline prices have risen recently, the ethanol sector is moving out of a pattern of idled plants and plants operating at reduced capacity, said Steve Sorum of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

“So I think the industry is starting to come back to full production,” Sorum said. “But like everyone else involved with this issue, we’re watching both commoditiescorn and gasoline, very closely.”

Taking 24 ethanol plants into consideration, “lower corn prices, in general, mean a higher profit for ethanol plants,” he said.

Corn futures for December delivery are down 21 percent this year on the Chicago Board of Trade as the U.S. Department of Agriculture expects the country’s farmers to harvest a record 13.95 billion bushels, 29 percent more than the previous year when crops were hurt by drought. Sixty-three percent of the corn crop in main producing states was in good or excellent condition as of July 28, the USDA says. The harvest starts in September.

Pascal Blanc

Pascal has implemented numerous software solutions in the areas of procurement, sourcing, spend management, supplier evaluation and performance. His clients include Fortune 500 companies in Europe, Asia and North America. He is a co-founder of Source & Procure.

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