By Joanna Newman
AT this time of year, the US maize market is typically at the mercy of the weather.
Recent concerns over planting delays have receded – at least for now. Americas maize farmers have seized advantage of a break in the rain to step up their spring activity.
In the past week alone they completed another third of their planting and now have 55% of the crop in the ground, ahead of the five-year average of 52%.
Overall, the drier eastern Corn Belt is enjoying faster progress, while the western Corn Belt remains water-logged.
Analysts warn that there is still room for delays but concede the most time-critical few weeks are behind us.
Timely planting will not only improve the nations maize yields come harvest-time.
Drier conditions make it less likely that frustrated farmers decide to switch maize acreage to soya beans.
This weeks revised supply and demand report from the US Department of Agriculture is likely to confirm the trend.
There has been no strong direction in maize futures prices this week, as the prospect of increased domestic supply has been offset by large exports.
Maize shipments have been topping 1 million tons per week in April and May.
The Chicago May futures contract dipped for a few days late last week then recovered to settle on Tuesday (11 May) at 219.5¢/bushel, up only slightly from 218.8¢ a week ago.