Corn prices continued lower this week, dropping underneath $3.50 per bushel for the first time this year after the USDA showed improving corn crop quality on Monday.

The USDA was already projecting an ample 14.2 billion bushel crop, and improving quality could boost the crop size to the second-largest ever. Southern states have begun harvesting this year’s crop and are reporting high yields.

However, many private forecasters fear that the crop is in worse shape in Midwestern states, which could provide a spark to the markets if they are correct.

If there is a harvest shortfall this year, it could be exacerbated by the currently low prices. Demand for corn has been climbing as buyers scoop up the grain at a bargain price, and shipments to foreign buyers have risen 23 percent over the previous year.

Stock markets drop on trumped up fears

Stocks tumbled this week as a growing rift between President Trump and Fortune 500 CEOs spooked Wall Street. Multiple CEOs resigned from advisory panels, citing concerns about the President’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, which then prompted the President to dissolve the councils altogether.

This discord unnerved investors who had been hoping that business leaders and President Trump would work together on tax reform, boosting the economy and stocks.

Instead, after the impasse in Congress over health care and recent breaks with Wall Street, many fear that a comprehensive economic plan is looking like a long-shot, which helped drag S&P 500 futures contracts to a one-month low on Friday.

Markets were further troubled by terrorist attacks in Barcelona and a slew of disappointing earnings from corporations.

Meanwhile, gold prices pushed over $1,300 an ounce, a nine-month high while U.S. treasury bond futures reached a six-week high. Both “safe-haven” assets typically gain value when investors are scared out of stocks.

Help coming for Florida’s Oranges

Florida’s orange groves have been devastated in recent years by a disease known as citrus greening, a bacterial infection spread by insects. The disease is ravaging citrus groves, cutting the Sunshine State’s production by nearly 50% over the last decade.

To combat the disease, Florida’s Citrus Research and Development Foundation has solicited the help of the German chemical company Bayer AG. They hope to have test solutions ready within a few years.

This could help rescue Florida’s growers, who are suffering from crop losses and relatively low prices. Frozen concentrated orange juice futures traded Friday for $1.40 per pound, near a one-year low.

Opinions are solely the writers’. Walt and Alex Breitinger are with Breitinger & Sons LLC, a commodity futures brokerage firm in Valparaiso. They can be reached at (800) 411-3888 or www.indianafutures.com. This is not a solicitation of any order to buy or sell any market.

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