This year’s corn crop is generally expected to be another good one, keeping prices reasonable for pork producers. But the volatility of that crop may be higher than it has been for several years.

Glenn Grimes, agricultural economist University of Missouri, says that a short corn crop this year could have a pretty dramatic effect on the future pork market.

“From some of the forecasts I’ve heard, a crop below 7 billion bushels might double the price of corn,” says Grimes.

While that kind of increase in the costs of feed grains will make profitability a challenge in the short term, there may be an upside, says Grimes. If corn prices increase sharply it may force producers to trim the sow herd. In turn, that would reduce hog slaughter in the fourth quarter of next year, when packer capacity is expected to be pressured again.

Grimes points out that a corn crop below 7 billion bushels means usage must be trimmed or the country would run out of corn.

This year’s corn prices are expected to be anywhere from 15 cents to 20 cents per bushel, to 40 cents to 50 cents per bushel higher than last year, says Grimes. One of the factors affecting corn prices is high fertilizer costs, leading to fewer corn acres planted. Also, soybeans have been more profitable during the past several years, due to the favorable loan rate over corn. This has created less corn acreage.

USDA’s crop progress report for May 7 shows corn planting running ahead of the four-year average, with the Eastern Corn Belt leading the way. Minnesota appeared to be the only real slow spot, with only 7 percent of its crop in the ground. Bear in mind this report only takes into account the percent of intentions planted, not actual acreage planted.

With all the crop uncertainty now and lying ahead, you might consider applying some corn price protection to guard against a widespread weather problems this year. That may be difficult to accept in the short-term, but it may help prevent a bigger problem next year.