Corn prices are down again this morning after tumbling by almost -15 cents last week. The question now becomes can we stop the slow bleeding?
The USDA recently showed the current U.S. crop as being one of the best we've seen in a long time this early in the season. We all understand it's not where we start the race but rather how we finish. Unfortunately, the fundamentals show we are still adequately supplied and with the U.S. crop getting planted without many wide-spread hiccups, a great start to overall crop-conditions is perhaps carrying more weight than it normally would. Especially, as U.S. trade uncertainty continues to brew inside the geopolitical space.
With both Chinese and NAFTA trade deals now fully in question, I suspect it will take more and more from a U.S. weather story to keep prices supported. At the moment there's just not a lot of weather complications here in the U.S. The trade seems to believe this year's U.S. crop is in better shape than we've seen in any of the most recent record yielding seasons. Bulls however are quick to remind everyone, on June 4th, 2012, the USDA released their weekly crop-condition estimate showing 93% of U.S. corn was "emerged" and 72% of the crop was rated "Good-to-Excellent". By June 24th of 2012, the USDA estimated 56% of the U.S. crop was still rated "Good-to-Excellent".
By July 29th of 2012, just 24% of the U.S. crop was rated "Good-to-Excellent". Harvest data started rolling in by mid-August and prices peaked north of $8.00 per bushel. By the following August, prices had tumbled to sub-$5.00 and have never returned.
I have no idea what the weather will do during the next 60-days, but I recognize the fact we are entering this window of extreme uncertainty. I also recognize the fact we are adding additional uncertainty in the macro space involving U.S. trade negotiations, problems in the Middle East, crude oil price volatility, direction of the U.S. dollar, etc... With 50% of our estimated new-crop price risk currently removed, I feel like I'm right where I want to be to watch the next few weeks play out.
Those who are more worried about downside risk might want to think about hedging a few more bushels. Those who are more optimistic and can afford to stay patient longer should mentally prepare for a wild ride the next two-months. If I had to pinpoint current areas of largest concern, I would have to say portions of the Delta and some select dry areas in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. I also still believe Brazil's second-crop corn is going to be less than the USDA is currently forecasting, which could ultimately provide some additional tailwind.