Is China the Key to Higher Corn Prices?

Published on: 08:04AM Jun 24, 2014

Corn conditions in the US drop -2% with the USDA now estimating 74% of the crop is rated "Good-to-Excellent" compared to 76% last week. The real kicker, at least in my opinion, is that only 5% of the entire corn crop is rated in "Poor-to-Very Poor" condition. This is the least percentage of the crop (at this stage of the game) I have seen rated in the "Poor-to-Very Poor" categories for many years. Meaning it's been a long time since we've seen this large of a portion of the US with so little crop failure.  This is obviously offsetting the talk of excessive rain and flooding in many northern corn belt areas and has the DEC14 contract now dangerously close to it's early-Jan low of $4.35 per bushel. As I have mentioned the past couple of days, another large game changer is the continued lack of Chinese demand.  For the past several years this market has had an unspoken fear of potentially huge Chinese corn demand at any given moment. In other words, there has always been a bullish wild-card in the deck in regard to Chinese demand.  Traders just never knew if China was going to make the jump from "price" buyer to "quantity" buyer, similar to what we witnessed in the soybean market.  This potential major demand push by the Chinese has kept many of the bulls in the game as they hope to draw that winning wild-card. Unfortunately, that card now seems as if it's been temporarily removed from the deck. China continues it's ban of US corn and is said to be sitting on much larger domestic stocks than the trade had been estimating.  With China out of the game, many are arguing we are looking at fairly flat-demand curve moving forward. In fact, this has many in the trade thinking the USDA may currently be a bit overly optimistic with their current estimate. Moral of the story, it doesn't look like China is going to need much US corn anytime soon. Throw on top a very-good crop across a LARGE section of the corn-belt (certainly potential for a record US crop) and the bulls have very little to cheer about.      CLICK HERE for all my grain comments....

USDA's Weekly Corn Crop-Conditons: Below are some specific's in regard to the recent weeks change in overall crop-conditions rated GD/EX, as you can see from the map the states colored "green" improved and the states colored "red" are seeing some setback out in the field:  MN crop down -9%; CO & IA -4%; SD & WI -3%; PA -1%; KY, MI & OH "unchanged"; KS, NC, ND & TN +1%; IL, IN & NE +2%; MO +4%.