How will the current US heat wave impact corn and soybean prices?

Agricultural , Commodities , Corn , Food , Soybaens , Wheat Aug 28, 2013 No Comments

HeatwaveTemperatures are poised to pass 38°C (100°F) in the coming week in western corn-belt states such as Iowa. The heat revived memories of the devastating drought in the US last year, which slashed grain output and sent prices soaring.

A heat wave in parts of the Plains states and Midwest kept temperatures Monday as high as 20 degrees above normal, and it’s likely to last until the end of the week.

US Heatwave - August 2013

Heat warnings and advisories are in effect for eight states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri.

Minneapolis set a record temperature for the day on Monday with 97 degrees, CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said. The normal high is 79. In Iowa, the heat index reached 110 degrees, Iowa’s Department of Public Health said, and it warned residents of the risk of heat-related illnesses. It said even young and healthy people could be affected if they are active in hot weather.

In some locations, temperatures will challenge daily record highs, many of which have been on the books since the late 1800s.

Temperatures could be reaching 100 degrees from parts of Nebraska and Kansas to Iowa and Missouri. Cities that will see temperatures rise close to the century mark on at least one day include St. Louis, Kansas City, Omaha, Neb., Dallas, Des Moines, Iowa, Pierre, S.D. and Bismarck, N.D. For many locations across the Plains, the heat could last right through the Labor Day weekend.

Farm officials underlined the threat to US crops from this week’s heatwave, warning of declining soil moisture levels and falling crop condition, which some investors believe may have been worse than thought in corn.

US drought monitor - August 20th 2013

The US Department of Agriculture estimated at 58% the proportion of US soybeans rated in “good” or “excellent” condition as of Sunday, down four points week on week, and a decline worse than investors had expected.

For corn, the proportion seen good or excellent fell by two points to 59%, a decline in line with market forecasts, although some investors have questioned the national figure given the break-down of state-by-state data.

The conditions represent the opposite of those last year, when a wet spell in late August revived crops after a dearth of rains for most of the summer, which left a huge area of the US in drought.

“Last year’s US soybean crop turned out to be better than expected as late August/early September rains added pods and to final yields,” Kim Rugel at Benson Quinn Commodities said. “This year’s precipitation has been the opposite, with soybeans wet early and dry late during the key yield-determining pod-set and pod-fill phase of the crop.”

There was some mixed data from the Pro Farmer crop tour to factor in. On corn, it was not so bad, with the Minnesota yield pegged at 181.1 bushels per acre, ahead of last year’s 156.2 bushels per acre and a three-year average of 172.5 bushels per acre. The Iowa yield was pegged at 171.9 bushels per acre, compared with 137.3 bushels per acre last year and an average of 157.1 bushels per acre. But there were cautions over the tardiness of development, a reflection of late plantings and cool weather for much of the summer.

For soybeans, for which development delays are especially significant, the latest tour findings were not so encouraging. In Minnesota, pod density was 869 per plot (3 feet x 3 feet) compared with 934 last year and an average of 1,099. For Iowa, the figure was 927 pods per plot, below last year’s 1,000 and an average of 1,190. “Soybean yields are still widely disputed,” one US broker said.

“But we can’t discount the recent dry spell. If we were looking for a 44-bushels-per-acre national average bean yield a month ago, we may be looking at the August US Department of Agriculture estimate of 42.6 as a more realistic number today.”

On Monday, wheat, which can substitute for corn in animal feed, jumped. CBOT December wheat gained 3.2 per cent to $6.66¾ a bushel.
Futures on soya meal, another critical ingredient in chicken and pig feed, surged 5.9 per cent to $458.60 per short ton in the September-delivered contract as consumers scrambled for supplies. The Chicago Board of Trade expanded its daily price fluctuation limit to $30 per short ton from the usual $20 in light of the volatility.

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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