Corn Prices Fall to Nearly 4-Month Low on Forecast for Record U.S. Crop
USDA Raises Estimate for Global Corn Supplies in the 2014-2015 Season
Corn futures slumped to a nearly four-month low Wednesday after federal forecasters reiterated expectations for a record U.S. crop this autumn and projected higher-than-expected global stockpiles.
In a closely watched monthly crop report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said favorable weather to begin this year's growing season prompted it to leave unchanged its forecast last month for corn output of 13.935 billion bushels. That would top last year's record crop of 13.925 billion bushels.
USDA raised its estimate for global supplies in the 2014-15 season, citing increased production this year in Brazil and India. Global stockpiles at the end of the 2014-15 season will total 182.7 million metric tons, the government said, above analyst forecasts for about 182.1 million.
Corn for July delivery dropped 4 1/2 cents, or 1%, to $4.41 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade, the lowest settlement price for a front-month contract since Feb. 13.
Corn prices have tumbled 33% in the past 12 months, pressured by last year's crop and the auspicious start to the current growing season. Rainy weather in the Midwest over the past month has improved soil conditions. About 75% of the crop was in good or excellent condition as of Sunday, the best rating for the second week of June since 2010, according to the USDA.
The government, on Wednesday, left unchanged its forecast for average U.S. corn yields this year of 165.3 bushels an acre, which would break the previous record of 164.7 bushels in 2009.
"We're still early in the season, but we haven't had any stress on the crop and we have ample soil moisture," said Shawn McCambridge, senior grain analyst at brokerage Jefferies Bache Commodities in Chicago.
Any shift in weather conditions in the Farm Belt in the next two months could alter the outlook for the crop, analysts noted. In 2012, for example, the corn crop appeared healthy early in the season, but a severe drought that took hold in July resulted in a sharp decline in production.
"The corn crop looks fantastic now, but historically speaking, crop ratings early in the year aren't great indicators of your final yield," said Jason Britt, president of Central States Commodities Inc., a Kansas City, Mo., brokerage.
The government said U.S. corn stockpiles at the end of the 2014-15 season next August would total 1.726 billion bushels, slightly below analyst estimates.
U.S. soybean futures fell to the lowest in more than two months on Wednesday, weighed down by the government's forecast for higher-than-expected global supplies of the oilseeds.
The USDA left unchanged its forecast for U.S. soybean production and yield this year. The government estimated the crop would total a record 3.635 billion bushels on a yield of 45.2 bushels an acre.
The agency said U.S. soybean inventories at the end of the 2014-15 season will total 325 million bushels, below last month's forecast for 330 million.
Soybean futures for July delivery dropped 17 cents, or 1.2%, to $14.45 1/2 a bushel, the lowest settlement price since March 28. .
Wheat prices fell to a fresh three-month low after the government raised its outlook for U.S. inventories at the end of the 2014-15 season that started on June 1. The USDA cut its estimate for wheat exports from the U.S., and projected lower usage of the grain in livestock feed.
U.S. wheat stockpiles will total 574 million bushels at the end of the 2014-15 season next May, above the 540 million bushels forecast last month, the government said.
Wheat futures for July delivery fell 12 cents, or 2%, to $5.89 1/4 a bushel in Chicago trading, the lowest since Feb. 27.