By Joanna Newman

MAIZE is now thriving on the US grain markets, and there was little surprise when maize prices bounced back quickly following last weeks sell-off.

The Chicago March futures contract, which had dropped abruptly from 215¢/bushel to 205¢ at the end of February in the wake of cheaper wheat and soya beans, staged a rapid recovery.

The contract settled on Tuesday (9 March), at 215.25¢/bushel, compared with 210.25¢ a week ago.

Demand is satisfactory, especially in the export arena and international shipments are running at higher than expected levels.

South Korea has increased its maize purchasing, while several other importers including Venezuela and Taiwan are also buying more maize than a year ago.

In the week ended 4 March, 45 million bushels were inspected for export, well ahead of estimates of 35 million bushels.

There have been renewed forecasts of shrinking maize acreage this spring as US farmers switch to soya beans which enjoy higher federal subsidies.

At the end of this month the official planting intentions report will be released, which will provide an indication of likely supply this year.

Meanwhile the maize harvest in Argentina, which has just got under way, could suffer delays due to heavy rain. This is increasing speculation of a tighter maize market.

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