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A Look at Economic Conditions Shaping Commodity Prices

This is the first in a series of blog posts about the economic conditions of various commodities for the quarter ended June 30. This post focuses on grain; subsequent posts will cover swine, poultry, ethanol, dairy, beef feedlot and cow-calf sectors. 

Omaha cash corn prices averaged $4.72 per bushel in the second quarter. The average price was up compared to the first quarter, but down $2.60 per bushel compared to the 2013 quarterly average.  The price fell heavily to $4.16 per bushel at quarter-end and, during the first two weeks of July, slid below $3.90 per bushel while December futures fell to near $4.05 per bushel. 

Prices fell after the June month-end USDA report showing stocks at 3.85 billion bushels, suggesting a carry-over of 1.2 plus billion bushels, as well as stating the estimated 91.6 million planted acres were off to a strong start.  The acreage planted was down 4 percent when compared to last year, but still represents the fifth largest corn crop planted since 1944. The 2014 crop was rated 75 percent in good to excellent condition, the best second quarter-end rating since 1999.  

Cash soybean prices also dropped during the quarter, falling 80 cents per bushel to $13.85 per bushel, down nearly $2.00 per bushel from a year ago. Soybean meal prices pushed above $500 per ton near June 1, but subsequently declined. Cash soybeans decreased to near $13 per bushel and meal to under $450 per ton during the first two weeks of July. This was in reaction to USDA reports that estimated soybean plantings at a record high 84.8 million acres, up 11 percent from a year ago. These prices remain at a profitable level for most producers, although at lower margins compared to recent years.

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