Corn prices have spiked roughly 30 percent in the last month because of droughts and extreme heat conditions in the Midwest. Corn prices for December delivery rose another 3 percent on Tuesday to $6.56 a bushel.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported additional crop deterioration in its weekly crop progress report released Monday afternoon. Supply of corn in good to excellent condition dropped to 48 percent from 56 percent in one week according to a tally of the country's 18 corn-producing states.
This year was supposed to be a banner year for corn production. In its annual planting report released Friday, the USDA estimates that farmers will plant 96.4 million acres of corn this year -- the largest amount of corn planted in the past 75 years. But that bumper crop won't matter much if Mother Nature continues her wrath.
"If you get heat during the pollination phase, or the reproductive stage, of the corn market, and you could get irreversible yield damage," says Terry Roggensack, founding principal at The Hightower Report.
Current weather forecasts do not signal any relief in the coming weeks. There is little to no rain on the horizon and temperatures are expected to remain high. Roggensack predicts corn for December deliver could continue on its upward trajectory, hitting $7.40 a bushel if current weather forecasts play out. Many analysts believe 2012 could turn out to be the worst year for corn since the 1988 drought.
But corn prices don't just effect how much an ear of corn will cost at the supermarket. The commodity is used in the production of a wide-ranging number of products, meaning your bottom line will also be impacted.
Take for example soft drinks, which use sweeteners made from corn syrup or cereals that use corn meal as an ingredient. The plastics market will also be impacted says Roggensack because many plastic products are now made with a corn base.
Additionally, about 30 percent of U.S. corn stock is used to make ethanol, so you can expect energy prices to rise. And meat prices could also be pushed higher as roughly 30 to 40 percent of the corn crop is used to feed livestock.
"Beef prices, pork prices and chicken prices will all in the long-run be impacted and will probably need to be pushed higher," says Roggensack. "Even if it starts raining good by mid-July, we are still looking at serious ... yield damage that cannot be reversed."