Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Corn crop, threatened early by weather, forecast to be 2nd-largest ever; soybeans still touch and go

"After a worrisome start to the growing season that fanned fears of food shortages and huge economic losses, the nation’s most important crop is now on track for a bountiful harvest," which will also keep prices down, David Streitfeld writes in The New York Times about the Department of Agriculture's latest forecast for the U.S. corn crop: second largest ever.

As heavy rains and flooding forced some farmers to replant in June, "Food industry groups went to battle with ethanol interests, saying there was not enough corn for both food and fuel. Corn futures prices soared to an unheard-of $8 a bushel, triple the price of a few years ago," Streitfeld notes. "Some analysts worried that $9 or even $10 a bushel was possible. That price would probably have been ruinous to livestock producers and ethanol plants alike, although corn farmers would have been in clover. . . . But after the floodwaters receded, nature turned benign. In the Midwest this summer, the weather has been exactly what the tender young corn stalks needed to thrive." The price yesterday was $5.28.

The soybean forecast was down a bit, but "much better than many had expected in June," Streitfeld reports. When July began, soybean futures were over $16 a bushel; Tuesday's price was $12.14. (Read more)

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