Lower U.S. corn acres raise optimism for Manitoba growers

CNS Canada — A wet spring in the U.S. has forced many farmers to switch out corn acres in favour of alternative crops — a practice that could potentially raise prices for Manitoba farmers, an industry watcher said.

“It’s encouraging on the price outlook to see they (U.S. farmers) put less acres in,” said Myron Krahn, president of Manitoba Corn Growers.

Some analysts have estimated the losses in the U.S. to be in the four million-acre range. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently rated much of the crop in Illinois and Idaho in the fair to poor category.

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While conditions in Western Canada were also wet during the spring, Krahn said our crop has started to establish nicely.

“Conditions are fairly good provincewide,” he said. “As we sit here on June 6, probably 80 to 90 per cent of the corn crop has emerged by now.”

Over the past few months, Krahn says prices have been in the $4-$4.30 per bushel range, with new-crop supplies getting a little over $4.

“Really, since last fall, the price has bounced around a narrow trading range,” he said.

However, with the loss of U.S. acres and a healthy Manitoba crop, Krahn thinks this could improve slightly.

“I think $4.50 (a bushel) farmers would be happier sellers,” he noted.

Going forward, he said, the crop could use warm temperatures, warm nights and rain every 10 days or so.

“Big parts of the province are looking for rain, not that the crop is stressing or anything. But with the heat it’s growing fast.”

However, Krahn said, extremely hot days aren’t going to help development very much.

“Anything over 30 degrees (C) is not ideal for corn.”

— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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