Iowa growers saw corn prices jump 30-cents a bushel this week after traders were caught off-guard by a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Quarterly Stocks report indicates a much greater demand for corn that was expected. Chad Hart, an Iowa State University ag economist, says it’s great news for farmers.

Hart says, “What we’ve seen in the corn market, especially over the last quarter, is a fairly significant disappearance of corn through a combination of factors: higher ethanol demand out there, so we pulled a lot of corn through those ethanol plants , and also, we’ve seen the export numbers continue to pick up.” Hart says more companies in more countries are finding new uses for corn — from ethanol and corn syrup to plastics and pillow fibers.

“As we work through the marketing year, we’ve talked about China importing some corn, well, it’s not just them in the corn market,” Hart says. “We’re seeing a general rebound there.” The U.S.D.A. report showed corn stocks at 4.31 billion bushels, which is up one-percent from a year ago. From that total, the report says 2.13 billion bushels are stored on farms, down 3% from a year earlier.

As for the soybean crops, Hart says the “planting intentions” report from the U.S.D.A. at first glance appears bearish, but he says that’s not the whole story. “When you look at this report, traders saw a roughly acreage coming in for soybeans at least 500,000 acres more than the general average was expected,” Hart says. “So this was a bearish report on the acreage as far as the number was concerned, but I think traders also took into account the weather that we’ve had over the last couple of weeks, especially.”

The report showed soybeans in storage at 571-million bushels, down 4% from a year ago.

By Dan Skelton, KICD, Spencer