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Average Corn, Wheat Prices at 10-Yr. Highs

by Libby Quaid
Forbes, July 12, 2006

Wheat and corn prices have reached 10-year highs, the Agriculture Department reported Wednesday.

Season-average prices are $3.70 to $4.30 a bushel for wheat and $2.25 to $2.65 for corn, the department said in its monthly crop report. The last time prices were that high was 1996.

That is good news to farmers who had a decent wheat crop but provides little comfort to those whose wheat was ravaged by drought.

Conditions improved slightly with rainfall last month in the central Great Plains. Still, as of June 25, nearly half the winter wheat crop, 46 percent, was rated in poor to very poor condition, compared to 17 percent last year.

The forecast for winter wheat production is 15 percent below last year, analysts said. The forecast for winter wheat production is 1.28 billion bushels, up 1 percent from last month's forecast.

The amount of wheat going into animal feed has dropped a little, and as a result, carryover estimates rose by 22 million bushels to 568 million bushels, chief economist Keith Collins said. He said price forecasts rose because prices have been strong.

The first surveys of spring wheat put production at 526 million bushels, down 24 million from last month's forecast.

For corn farmers, exports picked up last month, prompting analysts to boost their export forecast by 25 million bushels. The corn crop is expected to be 10.74 billion bushels, up from last month's forecast of 10.55 billion bushels but down from last year's production of 11 billion bushels.

The soybean outlook declined somewhat over the past month, with the production forecast dropping by 70 million bushels to 3.01 billion bushels. The price forecast dropped 10 cents from last month to $5 to $6 a bushel because forward contract prices have been low.

Meat production is expected to drop this year and next year, mostly because of slower growth in chicken meat production, the department said. Beef exports have picked up and are expected to remain strong, especially exports to Canada.

Libby Quaid
Average Corn, Wheat Prices at 10-Yr. Highs
Forbes, July 12, 2006

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