The corn market today is responding to another threat of frost in long-range weather forecasts, Doane Advisory Service economist Marty Foreman tells Drovers and food360 editors. A week ago, National Weather Service forecast models suggested a possibility of frost over much of the Corn Belt around the end of this week. That danger dissipated within a few days, but now the NWS is watching the next cold front, which could bring frost as far south as central Illinois and Indiana around September 29 and 30.

Concerns over early frost are driving corn futures higher today, as much of the crop has not reached maturity. This week’s Crop Progress report shows 21 percent of the U.S corn crop at maturity as of Sept 20, up from 12 percent a week ago, but well below the year-ago figure of 30 percent and the previous five-year average of 55 percent. In Minnesota, 4 percent is mature, compared with a five-year average of 40 percent for the same date. In North Dakota, none of the crop has reached maturity, contrasting with a five-year average of 36 percent.

Cattle futures continue to struggle, Foreman says, with Oct. and Dec. contracts at seven-month lows. The cash market has been flat to slightly down, but tight supplies of market-ready cattle continue to suggest cash prices should improve into the upper $80s during Oct. and Nov. Beyond this fall, the increase in feedyard placements over the past few months, particularly of heavy-weight cattle, could mean growing supplies and beef production, pressuring prices back into the lower $80s during the first quarter of 2010.