Ag Weather Forum

Mexico Drought Boosts Demand for US Corn

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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The Mexico drought monitor shows much of the country has severe to exceptional drought. That includes the state of Sinaloa, which normally produces more than 20% of the Mexican crop each year. (NOAA/NCEI, NDMC, and USDA graphic)

Across Mexico, extreme heat and drought are causing numerous calamities. Many reports note that monkeys in the Mexican jungles are dropping dead out of trees because of heat and drought. Around Mexico City, neighborhoods are being prohibited from taking water out of reservoirs that are drying up. And on the commodity market scene, extreme drought has Mexico buying even more U.S. corn than usual.

DTN Lead Analyst Todd Hultman noted, "Early Tuesday, USDA said 4.45 million bushels (mb) of corn were sold to Mexico, half for 2023-24 and half for 2024-25 ... This comes at a time when U.S. corn shipments to Mexico are up 42% in 2023-24 from a year ago and account for 42% of all U.S. corn shipments to date. As of May 9, sales and shipments of U.S. corn to Mexico totaled 778.2 mb, up from 548.6 mb a year ago."

The Mexican drought has hit all commodity-producing areas hard, including the country's corn-producing areas. The state of Sinaloa on the western side of the country normally raises 23% -- close to one quarter -- of the entire Mexican corn crop. The latest North America drought monitor shows Sinaloa is almost entirely in drought category D3 (extreme) or D4 (exceptional). USDA's weekly weather and crop bulletin dated Tuesday, May 14, 2024, offered this observation about the Mexican drought:

"Unseasonable warmth and dryness dominated much of Mexico, intensifying drought conditions and worsening summer crop planting prospects. Showers continued to be widely scattered and mostly light, with most of the rain falling in interior farming areas away from the Gulf Coast ... Compounding the impacts of the drought on water reserves, weekly temperatures averaged 2 to 6C above normal ... with daytime highs reaching the middle and upper 40sC in several parts of the country, stressing livestock and taxing reservoirs," the bulletin noted.

In comparing dryness years, one has to go back more than a decade. Australia Grain Brokers reporter Peter McMeekin noted in a May 14, 2024, Lachstock Consulting market discussion that the Mexican water authority, Conagua, calls the current drought the country's worst since 2011. The drought has led to USDA's Foreign Ag Service calling for a total 2023-24 corn production of 23.3 million metric tons (mmt) in Mexico, 17% less than last year's record output of 28.1 mmt. Drought has also led to notable downgrades in forecasts for Mexico's wheat and durum production.

Looking ahead, DTN forecasts call for Mexico temperatures to remain above normal through the North America summer months. Precipitation shows some variability, with northern areas near to below normal and central and southern areas near to above normal by later in the summer. However, setbacks in moisture and irrigation supplies have been so extensive up to now that drought impact is likely to remain through the rest of this growing season.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at


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