By Joanna Newman

THE damage to this years US maize crop has been done and even a significant amount of rain falls across the cornbelt over the next few weeks it would be too late to restore the crop after weeks of extreme heat and dryness.

As expected, the US Department of Agriculture has revised down its weekly estimate of the proportion of the crop rated good to excellent to 60%, compared with 63% last week.

All eyes will be on next weeks official crop size estimates from the government agency, as a gauge of future supply.

Now that yields are certain to have been affected by the adverse weather this summer, maize prices have started to climb in earnest.

The Chicago September futures contract has gained ground over the past week to close at 228.25¢/bushel on Tuesday (10 August), its highest level in a couple of months.

However, the rally may prove short-lived as higher prices are increasing supply whilst discouraging demand.

Farmers with large inventories from last season are taking advantage of the recovery to shift stocks.

Meanwhile the USA is becoming less competitive in the export arena, as buyers turn elsewhere for cheap maize or postpone purchasing decisions.

For the week ended 29 July, the US sold 836,000 tonnes of maize for export, somewhat below expectations.