Tuesday, 2 June, 1998

By Joanna Levin

STATESIDE maize prices dropped sharply early last week because of ideal weather conditions for farmers and disappointing export demand.

The market then drifted sideways and the Chicago July futures contract finally settled yesterday (1 June) at $2.38¢/bushel, down 8.5¢ on the week.

Export sales for the week ended 21 May were disappointing at 17.0m bushels, 27% below the four-week moving average for export sales. Mexico, Taiwan and South Korea were significant buyers.

Traders say that if old-crop exports remain low, then total exports for 1997/98 could reach only 1.40bn bushels, compared with forecasts of 1.48bn bushels. That would result in higher carry-over stocks to burden an already oversupplied market.

Maize planting is almost finished, well ahead of schedule. At this time of year, farmers usually have only 80% of the crop in the ground. Agronomists say yields this year could be higher than usual, as pollination could occur before the onset of an expected hot summer.

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