As Hurricane Irma swept through Florida, it brought high winds, tornadoes, drenching rain, and flooding, damaging property across the Sunshine State. The loss of life and property were substantial, but damage was not as severe as feared before the storm made landfall.

Among those devastated by Irma were Florida’s orange growers, who are already suffering from the malaise of citrus greening, a disease that has reduced production by 70 percent over the last decade. The storm may have destroyed over a third of Florida’s oranges this year as winds knocked fruit off branches. Worse yet, winds toppled trees and flooding could kill others, leaving long-lasting scars across the landscape and Florida’s billion-dollar citrus industry.

On concerns of crop losses, futures traders took frozen concentrated orange juice to a five-month high, trading over $1.60 per pound.

USDA shows more corn

This year’s corn crop could be bigger than previously thought. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent estimate, the corn harvest this year should near 14.2 billion bushels, potentially the third-largest on record.

This news knocked corn near the lowest level of the year Tuesday, with December corn futures trading for $3.46 per bushel.

These low prices are disappointing for producers and investors who had been expecting a rally after this summer’s heat and dry weather damaged the crop. However, the USDA continues to expect that the crop emerged largely unscathed, projecting a healthy harvest and grain surplus in the coming months.

Oil launches to new high

Crude oil prices are nearing a four-month high as global oil production slides and threats abound.

OPEC nations have largely kept their promises to cut production, and U.S. drillers have begun to show signs of slowing down production, both of which are helping to reduce supplies, which dropped globally for the first time in four months.

Meanwhile, North Korea launched another missile on Friday morning, keeping the U.S. and its allies on edge. The threat of war or disruption of trading routes in Asia has been buoying commodities prices, especially oil, which traded last week to $50.50 per barrel.

Opinions are solely the writer’s. Alex Breitinger is a commodity futures broker with Paragon Investments in Silver Lake, Kan. He 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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