2016 weather propelled commodity market rollercoaster
By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Dec. 16, 2016
- Rain in Argentina, drought in Brazil helped boost prices
- Bounty in U.S. prompted commodity price retreat
(newsrooms: with 12-16-2016 Ark-YEAREND-Commodity markets)
JONESBORO, Ark. – Weather extremes in the southern hemisphere and ideal weather in the Corn Belt helped propel a commodity price rollercoaster in 2016.
“As for the grain markets, 2016 provided a wild and unpredictable ride,” said Scott Stiles, extension economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “In fact, most ‘experts’ and analysts were completely caught off guard by price rallies this year.”
A list of global factors affected corn and soybean prices. In January and February, it appeared South America was on track to produce record crops, just as the U.S. had done in 2015. At that point in time world ending stocks for corn and soybeans were both projected to reach record levels. Prices for the two crops were under considerable pressure and trading at multi-year lows.
By late March corn and soybean prices finally found a floor, Stiles said. Argentina’s soybean harvest had just begun. Rains fell there the first 20 days of April. Farmers couldn’t harvest the crop in a timely manner and when they eventually did, quality was greatly reduced. At the opposite end of the weather spectrum in Brazil’s northeast growing areas, the second crop corn was enduring a severe drought. These two weather events shifted a surprisingly large volume of export demand to the U.S. for both soybeans and corn.
“As South America endured adverse weather and significant yield loss, crop prices rallied from early April until mid-June,” he said. “This price rally took soybean futures from around $8.60 to above $11 and corn eventually traded to about $4.40 per bushel.”
Prices wouldn't stay at these levels very long. “In fact, they crashed quickly,” Stiles said. “By early July, U.S. growing conditions were ideal across most of the Corn Belt. These ideal conditions would remain in place through harvest. Prices, retraced most of the gains seen from April to June on the prospect of record yields, record production and sharply rising ending stocks.”
Stiles said 2016 “illustrates how easily and quickly crop prices can change based upon unforeseen circumstances. No one could have predicted the ‘perfect storm’ the 2016 soybean and corn market encountered,” Stiles said. “Some valuable marketing lessons were learned in 2016. I believe growers will develop a more nimble approach to marketing for the 2017 crop.”
For more information about ag economics, visit www.uaex.uada.edu or contact your county extension office.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service