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Impact of the 2012 drought on export corn prices

November 28, 2012

In the summer of 2012, weather conditions caused the most severe drought the United States has seen since the 1950s. As a result of drought-related crop damage, U.S. export prices for corn soared nearly 128 percent above the 20-year historical average. Export prices also hit the highest level since the BLS import and export price index series began in 1984.
U.S. export corn price index, January 1989–October 2012
MonthIndex value
(November 2001 = 100)

January 1989

147.0

February 1989

140.9

March 1989

145.4

April 1989

138.1

May 1989

144.7

June 1989

139.7

July 1989

136.5

August 1989

123.3

September 1989

126.6

October 1989

128.2

November 1989

131.1

December 1989

130.8

January 1990

131.3

February 1990

127.5

March 1990

132.3

April 1990

140.8

May 1990

148.5

June 1990

144.2

July 1990

145.3

August 1990

134.9

September 1990

128.3

October 1990

120.5

November 1990

123.0

December 1990

126.4

January 1991

127.2

February 1991

131.4

March 1991

133.3

April 1991

134.5

May 1991

131.5

June 1991

129.9

July 1991

123.8

August 1991

135.4

September 1991

133.8

October 1991

140.9

November 1991

133.3

December 1991

129.0

January 1992

129.6

February 1992

138.6

March 1992

141.0

April 1992

135.2

May 1992

134.0

June 1992

135.8

July 1992

130.8

August 1992

117.5

September 1992

120.0

October 1992

113.4

November 1992

114.0

December 1992

115.9

January 1993

115.4

February 1993

114.9

March 1993

117.1

April 1993

123.9

May 1993

122.4

June 1993

116.5

July 1993

125.1

August 1993

127.8

September 1993

121.3

October 1993

125.9

November 1993

138.6

December 1993

151.4

January 1994

157.2

February 1994

151.5

March 1994

148.4

April 1994

142.2

May 1994

136.4

June 1994

141.0

July 1994

124.5

August 1994

117.7

September 1994

120.2

October 1994

114.8

November 1994

114.4

December 1994

122.0

January 1995

125.2

February 1995

128.7

March 1995

130.3

April 1995

135.8

May 1995

138.6

June 1995

145.1

July 1995

150.6

August 1995

148.7

September 1995

157.4

October 1995

166.2

November 1995

175.1

December 1995

177.2

January 1996

192.1

February 1996

194.2

March 1996

205.5

April 1996

231.8

May 1996

253.2

June 1996

243.9

July 1996

242.7

August 1996

240.1

September 1996

169.4

October 1996

156.4

November 1996

148.9

December 1996

148.0

January 1997

142.9

February 1997

155.8

March 1997

158.7

April 1997

150.1

May 1997

143.9

June 1997

134.8

July 1997

130.0

August 1997

132.5

September 1997

137.4

October 1997

137.1

November 1997

139.0

December 1997

137.6

January 1998

130.2

February 1998

134.6

March 1998

133.2

April 1998

124.0

May 1998

125.0

June 1998

119.2

July 1998

119.5

August 1998

105.6

September 1998

95.7

October 1998

96.7

November 1998

104.9

December 1998

108.1

January 1999

110.4

February 1999

109.1

March 1999

106.1

April 1999

107.4

May 1999

108.3

June 1999

107.5

July 1999

98.1

August 1999

103.0

September 1999

99.1

October 1999

93.4

November 1999

96.3

December 1999

95.9

January 2000

100.9

February 2000

107.3

March 2000

109.4

April 2000

108.9

May 2000

109.0

June 2000

100.9

July 2000

88.7

August 2000

84.7

September 2000

90.2

October 2000

94.7

November 2000

101.0

December 2000

104.4

January 2001

110.1

February 2001

105.1

March 2001

105.8

April 2001

101.7

May 2001

98.7

June 2001

95.9

July 2001

99.0

August 2001

103.5

September 2001

105.2

October 2001

99.4

November 2001

100.0

December 2001

105.0

January 2002

104.9

February 2002

103.0

March 2002

102.3

April 2002

101.3

May 2002

100.9

June 2002

105.0

July 2002

109.9

August 2002

119.5

September 2002

131.9

October 2002

123.6

November 2002

124.9

December 2002

122.4

January 2003

121.6

February 2003

122.1

March 2003

122.5

April 2003

122.0

May 2003

126.9

June 2003

121.4

July 2003

118.5

August 2003

110.1

September 2003

122.6

October 2003

115.4

November 2003

123.9

December 2003

127.0

January 2004

129.0

February 2004

137.1

March 2004

144.0

April 2004

154.0

May 2004

150.3

June 2004

146.0

July 2004

125.9

August 2004

116.4

September 2004

117.7

October 2004

104.7

November 2004

99.4

December 2004

106.3

January 2005

109.6

February 2005

104.8

March 2005

112.2

April 2005

109.4

May 2005

107.7

June 2005

111.5

July 2005

116.6

August 2005

113.7

September 2005

108.8

October 2005

111.2

November 2005

109.7

December 2005

111.5

January 2006

115.7

February 2006

117.2

March 2006

119.5

April 2006

119.8

May 2006

118.7

June 2006

124.8

July 2006

125.4

August 2006

127.3

September 2006

128.8

October 2006

141.1

November 2006

170.5

December 2006

178.9

January 2007

171.4

February 2007

187.1

March 2007

194.9

April 2007

167.1

May 2007

178.0

June 2007

185.7

July 2007

166.5

August 2007

166.7

September 2007

173.4

October 2007

178.4

November 2007

191.0

December 2007

197.0

January 2008

220.4

February 2008

238.0

March 2008

257.0

April 2008

270.4

May 2008

270.4

June 2008

279.1

July 2008

322.5

August 2008

230.2

September 2008

255.7

October 2008

212.2

November 2008

189.7

December 2008

158.0

January 2009

197.1

February 2009

185.0

March 2009

176.3

April 2009

192.0

May 2009

195.7

June 2009

210.9

July 2009

169.6

August 2009

173.9

September 2009

161.4

October 2009

176.0

November 2009

188.3

December 2009

190.7

January 2010

195.3

February 2010

178.5

March 2010

184.2

April 2010

170.4

May 2010

180.1

June 2010

171.7

July 2010

178.7

August 2010

187.7

September 2010

207.3

October 2010

225.4

November 2010

268.0

December 2010

257.3

January 2011

277.6

February 2011

298.8

March 2011

325.3

April 2011

333.8

May 2011

330.3

June 2011

340.9

July 2011

301.6

August 2011

325.9

September 2011

342.6

October 2011

277.5

November 2011

302.4

December 2011

277.6

January 2012

295.0

February 2012

294.1

March 2012

301.6

April 2012

302.7

May 2012

302.4

June 2012

277.1

July 2012

330.4

August 2012 (p)

367.1

September 2012 (p)

359.7

October 2012 (p)

349.7

Footnotes: (p) = preliminary
 

Drought conditions affected approximately 80 percent of U.S. agricultural land in the summer of 2012. Export corn prices rose 32.5 percent from June to August 2012 as drought conditions worsened. This rise coincided with a 13-percent decrease in corn supplies from the previous year, and beginning stocks following the 2011 season were already low. The export corn price index finished the third quarter of 2012 with a 29.8-percent gain. That was the largest quarterly rise in the index since a 30.5-percent advance during the first quarter of 2008.

Droughts in the United States are not unprecedented. Most recently, the nation experienced droughts in 1988 and 1995. The 1988 drought resulted in a 30-percent drop in corn production that year, and export corn prices surged 31.4 percent in the third quarter. With relatively small beginning corn stocks leading into the 1995 drought, export corn prices rose 45.2 percent overall for the year.

These data are from the BLS International Price program. To learn more, see "Impact of the drought on corn exports: paying the price" (HTML) (PDF), by Will Adonizio, Nancy Kook, and Sharon Royales in Beyond the Numbers, volume 1, number 17, November 2012.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Editor's Desk, Impact of the 2012 drought on export corn prices on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2012/ted_20121128.htm (visited August 23, 2014).

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