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Adverse weather and a weak basis separately affecting corn, soy prices

Agriculture.com Staff 06/06/2006 @ 1:26pm

Two unrelated issues are impacting cash corn and soybean prices in opposite directions, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"These issues are some concerns about adverse weather and generally weak basis levels," said Darrel Good.

"While the growing season has started without widespread problems, concern centers on prospects for hot and dry weather in western growing areas this week. The generally weak basis can be mostly explained by cost increases and demand for storage, but other factors may be at play as well."

In particular, Good added, are futures prices.

"Particularly for old-crop soybeans, futures prices may be a bit over-valued to market fundamentals due to increased speculative demand," he said. "While futures prices can be significantly influenced by such speculative demand, cash prices have to reflect the prevailing supply and demand for the crops."

Referring to concerns about prospects for hot and dry weather in the western growing areas, Good said it now appears that the area of most intense heat will shift south after this week, centering on Texas.

"Current forecasts do not suggest a prolonged period of hot, dry conditions in June, but weather concerns will persist through the growing season," he said. The market is demonstrating that it will react quickly to any indication that yields could drop below trend value in 2006.

"On the surface, corn prices would appear to be more sensitive to weather prospects due to declining acreage and surging demand. In contrast, soybean acreage likely exceeds that of last year and consumption appears to be slowing. However, soybean prices attract a lot of speculative interest and soybean prices will likely react as much as corn prices to early weather concerns."

To date, December 2006 corn futures have a contract high of $2.88, established on May 18. That contract settled at $2.85 on June 2. A new high sometime during the growing season would not be surprising, Good noted.

December futures exceeded $2.88 in seven of the past 10 years. Highs in those seven years ranged from $2.915 to $3.89.

The contract high for November 2006 soybeans is $6.60, established in July 2005. The recent high is $5.485 reached in early January 2006. That contract settled at $6.3325 on June 2.

"A new contract high for November 2006 soybean futures appears less likely than a new high for December 2006 corn futures, but certainly cannot be ruled out," said Good. "November futures have exceeded $6.60 in seven of the past 10 years, with highs in those seven years ranging from $6.80 to $8.25."

While weather concerns, along with a number of other factors, are supporting corn and soybean prices, generally weak basis (old crop and new crop) is being experienced in most markets, Good noted.

"For example, the average spot cash price of corn in central Illinois on June 1 was 28 1/2 cents under July 2006 futures," he said. "That compares to 21 cents under on the same date last year and an average of nine cents under in 2002 through 2004.

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