First domesticated by the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica, corn, or maize, is undoubtedly the most-grown crop in the U.S. today. The U.S. grows corn on such an enormous scale (333 million tonnes) that we produce almost three times more tonnes than the next leading country, China. The ability to harvest corn so efficiently and on such a grand scale did not develop in North America until after World War II, before which harvesting involved a huge, on-foot labor force. Despite our incredible domestic consumption of corn in everything from fodder to ethanol production, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that we still export about 1,859 million bu. of the crop to other countries.
|Corn Futures Contract Specifications|
|Contract Size||5,000 bushels (~ 127 Metric Tons)|
|Price Quotation||Cents per bushel|
|Trading Hours||Sunday – Friday 7:00 p.m. – 7:45 a.m. CT and|
|Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 1:20 p.m. CT|
|Minimum Price Fluctuation||1/4 of one cent per bushel ($12.50 per contract)|
|Product Code||CME Globex: ZC|
|CME ClearPort: C|
|Listed Contracts||March (H), May (K), July (N), September (U) & December (Z)|
|Last Trade Date||The business day prior to the 15th calendar day of the contract month.|
|Trade At Marker Or Trade At Settlement Rules||Trading at settlement is available for first 3 listed futures contracts, nearby new-crop December contract (if not part of the first 3 outrights), first to second month calendar spread, second to third month calendar spread, and nearest Jul-Dec spread when available (when July is listed); and are subject to the existing TAS rules. The Last Trade Date for CBOT Grain and Oilseed TAS products will be the First Position Day (FPD) of the front-month contract (FPD is the second to last business day in the month prior to the nearby contract month).
Trading in all CBOT Grain TAS products will be 19:00-07:45 and 08:30-13:15 Chicago time. All resting TAS orders at 07:45 will remain in the book for the 08:30 opening, unless cancelled.
TAS products will trade a total of four ticks above and below the settlement price in ticks of the corresponding futures contract (0.0025), off of a “Base Price” of 0 to create a differential (plus or minus 4 ticks) versus settlement in the underlying product on a 1 to 1 basis. A trade done at the Base Price of 0 will correspond to a “traditional” TAS trade which will clear exactly at the final settlement price of the day.
|Settlement Procedures||Corn Futures Settlement Procedures|
|Exchange Rules||These contracts are listed with, and subject to, the rules and regulations of CBOT.|
|Source: CME Group|
Corn is regarded as the most important crop in terms of production and acreage growth. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. is the leading exporter of corn, currently accounting for 20% of the world’s corn, and the major producer of corn, accounting for 39% of the world’s corn production in 2010. Most of the crop us used for livestock feed, accounting for over 90% of feed grain use and production.
Corn is a staple for everyday life and is used for various reasons, primarily for food products, ethanol, and livestock feed. The demand for corn continues to rise because the market for food made from corn is growing in the U.S, as is a heightened demand for ethanol. Major usages are as follows:
- 39.4% — Feed & Residual
- 15.2% — Exports
- 10.5% — Food, Seed, and Industrial Use (FSI) excluding Ethanol
- 34.9% — Food, Seed, and Industrial Use (FSI) including Ethanol
During processing, corn may either be wet or dry milled depending on the desired use. Wet millers process corn into syrup, oil, starch, glucose and dextrose, beverage alcohol, industrial alcohol and fuel ethanol. Dry millers process corn into cereal, flour, corn grits, corn meal, and brewers grits for beer production. It is expected that food uses for corn will expand at the rate of population growth.
Around 80 million acres of land are planted to corn. Corn is grown in most U.S. States, but production is mainly in the Heartland region — Iowa and Illinois being the top corn-producing states, but also grows in South Dakota and Nebraska, western Kentucky and Ohio, and the northern two-thirds of Missouri. In the U.S., corn growing season begins in April and extends through November. Planting occurs in the months of April through May, and once the crops have matured, harvesting typically begins in the middle of September until November.
Ethanol: Ethyl alcohol, or grain alcohol, is used as an alternative fuel. Ethanol fuel is produced by fermenting and distilling grains, primarily corn.
Metric Ton, or tonne (MT): A metric system unit of mass equivalent to 1,000 kilograms, or 2,200 pounds.
Yield: Also referred to as “agricultural output”, crop yield is the measurement of the amount of crop that was harvested per unit of land area.
Last updated September 2015
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