By Joanna Levin

ALL eyes are turned skywards as the corn (maize) planting season begins in the USA. Forecasts of wet weather in the pushed up maize prices early last week as rain threatened to delay drilling.

The May futures contract in Chicago closed at 248.6¢/bushel, up more than 3¢ on the previous weeks close of 245¢/bushel. But the price trend remains downwards, although forecasts of wetter weather could cause an upwards blip.

On the demand side, exports remain painfully slow. The US Government is expected to announce $100 million of export credits to South Korea to buy maize this week, and could approve another $350m of credits for maize and meal in the near future.

But analysts feel such a move will do little to tighten up what is essentially a slack market. Domestic demand is forecast to slow as the number of cattle eating corn in the nations feedlots starts to fall