Winter extended unusually in the United States, there were more than 30 cm of snow in western Iowa, a major grain states in the country. When there is no snow, it’s rain preventing farmers from sowing. Having sowed only 5% of corn in may had not happened in the United States for nearly thirty years.
“We’ve been concerned by some extraordinarily cold morning temperatures,” said Todd Hultman, a grains analyst at DTN. “The USDA report just added confirmation that people are expecting damage from those conditions.”
Chicago corn prices experienced their biggest two-day drop on record, tumbling 12.6 percent, or 93 cents, as larger-than-expected U.S. stockpiles weighed on the market, causing hedge funds to sell heavily.
Pressured by corn, Chicago wheat fell to its lowest nearby price in nine months, and soybeans hit a nearly three-month low.
The US corn production could reach 366.6 million tonnes 2013-2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture believes. This is 53 million tons more than in 2012-2013. The USDA revised its long-term forecast model to include the 2012 drought in its 25-year average. Forecasters expect the area sown for all types of cereals to be 102.6 million hectares in 2013-2014, but to decline over the next three years for corn. Specifically for corn, the USDA expects 38.78 million hectares in 2013, and 36.3 million hectares in 2014 (vs. 39 million hectares in 2012).
The most recent Seasonal Drought Outlook indicates much of the area from southwest Minnesota to western Missouri through most of the Great Plains and Rockies will continue to experience drought conditions through the winter season. However, some improvement is expected on the eastern fringe of this area from North Dakota into Minnesota and Wisconsin, eastern Iowa into eastern Missouri.
The Midwest drought, the worst since 1956, sent corn prices to record highs earlier this year and choked traffic on the Mississippi River as water levels fell. It is now blamed for the worst crop conditions for U.S. winter wheat in at least 27 years, which will affect feed costs for cattle producers in the Great Plains.
Corn production is forecast at 10.7 billion bushels, down slightly from the September forecast and down 13 percent from 2011. This represents the lowest production in the United States since 2006. Based on conditions as of October 1, yields are expected to average 122.0 bushels per acre, down 0.8 bushel from the September forecast and 25.2 bushels below the 2011 average. If realized, this will be the lowest average yield since 1995. Area harvested for grain is forecast at 87.7 million acres, up less than 1 percent from the September forecast and up 4 percent from 2011. Acreage updates were made in several States based on administrative data.
Old crop corn stocks in all positions on September 1, 2012 totaled 988 million bushels, down 12 percent from September 1, 2011. Of the total stocks, 314 million bushels are stored on farms, down slightly from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 675 million bushels, are down 17 percent from a year ago. The June – August 2012 indicated disappearance is 2.16 billion bushels, compared with 2.54 billion bushels during the same period last year.
Corn is still up 16 percent this year at $7.505 but has tumbled 12 percent from a record $8.49 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade and soybeans have jumped 34 percent to $16.24 but are now down 9.2 percent from a high of $17.89 a bushel.
According to FAO, global food prices have bounced back by 6% in July after several months of decline. This increase is mainly due to soaring prices for cereals and sugar: over 17% for cereals and 12% for sugar. The FAOfood price index has rebounded significantly in July to 213 points vs. 201 in June.
The Rome-based institution said in a statement that the increase was mainly due to a jump in prices for cereals and sugar, and more moderate increases of oils and fats. International prices of meat and dairy products remained more or less unchanged. If this trend continues, the February 2011 peak of 238 points that started in July 2010 could be rapidly reached. It could be similar since in both cases, soaring grain prices were the original trigger.
“The damage has been done to the corn crop,” Peter Meyer, a senior director of agriculture commodities at PIRA Energy Group in New York, said by telephone today. “Now the weather is starting to become more of a factor in the soybean markets.”
The condition of the U.S. corn crop worsened for an eighth straight week amid the worst Midwest drought in a generation. The worst of the drought occurred when corn plants were going through the critical pollination stage last month. Soybeans, which normally are planted later in the Midwest, are just now entering reproductive stages, so they have more time to grow.
Ethanol production last week fell to the lowest level since the US government began tracking the data in June 2010 because the excessive heat and drought prompted plants to run at reduced rates.
In normal times, it’s said that up to 40% of the US corn crop is converted into ethanol which is then fed into cars. When the crop slumps this proportion is likely to rise. For a drought and a shortage of corn is not going to do much to change driving habits.