MARKET ANALYSIS

ECONOMISTS PREDICT VOLATILE CORN, SOY PRICES IN 2021

After months of escalating corn and soybean prices, spring trading data points to more affordable prices ahead. But it remains unclear whether the 2021 harvest will bring relief. U.S. exports of corn and soybeans, especially to China, have slowed in recent months, James Mintert, director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture at Purdue University, said. On top of this, USDA has projected near-record corn production for 2021-22, alongside a large soybean crop. Markets for both commodities will remain tight come harvest this fall, but there’s reason to assume the current price trend won’t last forever. “Looking long term, we’re going to revert to the mean,” Michael Langemeier, associate director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture, said. The question is whether normative prices return in 2021, 2022 or 2023 and beyond. Markets for both commodities are showing signs of “a lot more variability in the market than you would expect to see historically,” Thompson said. Estimated there is a 19% chance soybean prices will drop by more than US$2 per bushel this year, and a 27% chance that corn prices will drop by more than US$1. With USDA projecting a relatively narrow margin between supply and consumption of soybeans for the 2021 marketing year, Mintert said he saw reason to believe strong soybean prices will continue. “There is some risk as to whether we will hit those corn yields,” he said, pointing to worsening drought in the Western U.S. and in Iowa. “It makes you wonder if you can hit that target.”