The crops in our area were planted early and despite some cool weather in early May and some dry weather in some of the surrounding area things are looking quite good. Recent rains have brought excellent moisture levels in corn and soybean fields and, according to area agronomists, just about every corn seed germinated and we have some excellent stands out there. In fact, some fields are experiencing moisture levels that are not allowing field traffic that is needed to get the weed control done that is needed to control what appears to be a very healthy crop of weeds that have emerged during the early growing season.
What does this mean for crop prices? We did see a record pace of consumption for U.S. corn and soybeans earlier this year that provided price support early in the year. However, a sluggish economy coupled together with high unemployment rates around the U.S. and the economic crisis in Europe have taken a lot out of corn and soybean prices in recent weeks. In addition, it looks like a record soybean crop for Brazil and the rest of South America and prospects look good for a third consecutive year of large wheat crops outside of the United States and record corn crops in other parts of the world all point to reduced demand for U.S. crops all over the world.
Add to this scenario the fact that there is growing confidence for excellent corn and soybean crops in the U.S. and you can see the reason for the recent downturn in crop prices. Generally crop condition reports have been high in most areas. Spotty rainfall has allowed for some dry pockets but recent moisture amounts have brought most area up to speed. We did see a cool and dry July in 2009 that slowed development down and a wet October in 2009 that delayed harvest. Overall, yields were excellent and we needed that moisture to get us off to a good start this spring.
For now, any recovery in crop prices will require a reversal in one or more of the major factors that are having a negative impact. These factors include world economic or financial conditions, domestic demand and foreign crop production. U.S. crop prospects are calling for a big crop coming with crop rating of around 70% of all crops in good to excellent condition. U.S. corn prices could get a modest boost if ethanol blends are approved to include more product in gasoline. This move is expected and would only have a modest effect.
The only other big factor out there is the weather. We all know that in Minnesota the weather has a lot to say about what happens in crop production. We have had a long string of basically good weather for crop production over the past four decades. Forecasters are saying that the El Nino weather pattern has changed and they are predicting the possibility of La Nina to develop over the next several months. This event could allow for the increased chance of more adverse growing conditions all over the Midwest in July and August when the crop is really made in Minnesota.