By Joanna Newman

AS long as northern Argentina continues to enjoy favourable weather for its crop, US maize prices are unlikely to rally.

And in Brazil, ample rain is also helping soya yields and thereby pressuring US bean prices, which in turn are weighing on maize.

US maize prices have been virtually static over the past three weeks. The Chicago March futures contract settled on Tuesday (2 February) at 217.5¢/bushel, compared with 215.8¢ a week ago.

Domestic demand is slow, a reflection of the 5% drop in the number of cattle on grain rations in US feedlots, as reported last week.

On the international front, 30 million bushels of maize were inspected for export in the week ended 21 January – less than expected. Analysts expect the USA to ship around 26-33 million bushels a week in coming months, and point out that the US Awill have to average 31.2 million per week to reach the governments own annual projection of 1.7 billion bushels.

During the first 22 weeks of the marketing calendar, 733 million bushels were exported, compared with 623 million during the same period last year.

Producers and traders are hoping that Iran or Russia will emerge as major buyers of feed grains to absorb excess world supplies.

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