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Corn Flirts With Decade High Price With War Upending Supply

Corn in a field near Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. The stellar rally across agriculture markets is receding as rains ease dry conditions in major growing areas, bolstering optimism over improved supplies. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Corn returned to the highest price since 2012, extending gains toward $8 a bushel, as the war in Ukraine threatens its ability to ship and sow crops and cold weather slows early U.S. plantings.

Futures in Chicago are wavering between gains and losses. A gain on Thursday would give corn its third consecutive increase to mark the longest rally since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in late February. The conflict has snarled grains trade out of the Black Sea region and could prevent Ukraine from shipping about half the corn it was expected to sell this season, before war erupted.

Buyers are likely to look to the U.S. for supplies, but the initial planting pace is slightly behind the five-year average. The country seeds its crop through May, leaving time for an improvement. China is also facing challenges with sowing from coronavirus restrictions.

Corn futures on the Chicago Board of Trade rose as much as 1% to $7.8575 a bushel, the highest since September 2012 for a most-active contract.

“The $8‑level is going to be more speed-bump than road-block” if there are real weather issues, according to Tobin Gorey, an agri-commodities strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Futures will pierce that “mythical” level at some point during the northern spring and summer, he said.

Corn is likely to exceed $8 in the coming months, according to CBA's Gorey

“Cool, blustery conditions are spreading across the upper Midwest,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Wednesday in a weather report. “Meanwhile, warmth lingers across the eastern Corn Belt, although scattered showers and wet fields continue to prevent most fieldwork.”

Meanwhile, soybeans are trading higher at $16.6775 a bushel for the most active contract at 10:31 a.m. in Chicago. November futures, the new crop, are down 0.1% to $15.04 a bushel.

Wheat is correcting after four straight gains to $11.1725 a bushel, while milling-wheat in Paris approached an all-time high.

The latest purchase by top wheat buyer Egypt laid bare the higher costs importers are facing due to the war. Prices in a tender Wednesday surged 44% from mid-February, just before Russia’s invasion. The large volume bought, even at such lofty costs, signals Egypt’s urgency to build reserves.

Read more:
  • Normal Indian Monsoon Sets Stage for a Bountiful Crop Season
  • Egypt’s Wheat Purchases Running 13% Behind Last Year (Table)
  • Brazil’s Advanced Soy Sales Below Average on Fertilizer Shortage
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