27 March 2015 | Online since 2003

Corn and wheat markets close lower


New month, new money is what they say. This was more like new month, no money. Pretty much everything, bar Kansas wheat, took a pasting today, although it is worth considering that many international participants were away from their desks due to the May Day holiday.

Tomorrow's trade could be a little thin too, as some will be making a long weekend of it (Argentina are officially off for another day). Nevertheless, the entire complex appeared to take a step back today an ask itself the question "have we overdone things a little here?" With fund money heavily long across the three pits, a shake out of these sorts was always going to be on the cards sometime.

With many away, there probably weren't as many willing buyers out there to absorb active fund selling in grains today, so some might say that this was an over-reaction. However if they don't want to support the market then by the look of today's trade then certainly nobody else does. Volume was quite high given that many were away.


Beans, meal and oil got shot to pieces, slumping 3.6%, 3.3% and 2.5% respectively (note though that oil was also a big loser yesterday). Fund money was estimated at being net sellers of around 10-12,000 lots on beans. Maybe the market re-considered, and came up with the conclusion that it's too early to get a weather market going in beans just yet -who knows? It is still widely accepted that the US will plant a record soybean area this year, and that Brazilian growers will follow suit (and probably those in Argentina too). Few appear to have seriously considered what happens if the oft quoted "insatiable" Chinese demand actually falters.

Consider that the world's largest soybean buyer imports more than five and a half times the volume that the second largest buyer, Europe, does. Weekly export sales offered little support, coming in at net reductions of 16,400 MT in old crop, about what was expected. What wasn't anticipated though, was sales of only 78,900 MT of new crop. MDA CropCast raised their forecast for the 2014 US soybean crop to record 3.575 million bushels, or 97.31 MMT, which is more than 12% up on last year. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said that the soybean harvest in Argentina is 56.7% done, which is almost 10 points below last year's pace, producing a crop of 34.7 MMT so far.

Rain in the last few days has delayed the harvest a bit further, they said. Still, they stood by their estimate for production of 54.5 MMT this year. Informa are out with their latest crop production estimates tomorrow. The USDA issue theirs next Friday, including their first projections for 2014/15 around the world. They are usually optimistic about production prospects this early in the season, so that could be construed as bearish. May 14 Soybeans closed at $14.73 1/2, down 57 1/4 cents; Jul 14 Soybeans closed at $14.61, down 51 3/4 cents; May 14 Soybean Meal closed at $486.70, down $17.20; May 14 Soybean Oil closed at 40.92, down 96 points.


The market ended around 10-12 cents lower, with fund money estimated as being a net seller of around 10,000 lots on the day. For all the hype and hysteria about US corn plantings getting off to a bad start, the first of May is surely a bit early to get a weather market going? A mentioned yesterday, US farmers planted 43% of last year's crop in just one week mid-May in 2013. Last year's crop was late planted, but yielded pretty well at the end of the day. MDA CropCast trimmed their forecast for this year's US corn harvest a little, coming up with a figure of 14.014 billion bushels. That's a record crop, and "in English money" one that is 8.3 MMT, or 2.4%, up on last year.

There are signs of better weather ahead for the US corn belt. "General improvement in the weather is predicted on Midwest corn farms," said Martell Crop Projections. "Abnormal cold would linger for another few days in the Upper Midwest, but strong warming is predicted beginning Monday and continuing next week," they added. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said that the Argentine corn harvest was 25% complete, which is 18 points down on a year ago.

They estimated production there at 24 MMT, unchanged from their previous forecast. Weekly US export sales came in at 937,900 MT for old crop and 13,800 MT for new crop. Pre-report estimates had been for sales of a combined 500 TMT to 1.3 MMT for both crop years. Informa are due out tomorrow with their crop production estimates. Last month they had the 2013/14 Brazilian corn crop at 68.0 MMT, and the 2013/14 Argentine corn crop estimated at 23.0 MMT. Safras e Mercado recently raised their outlook on Brazil considerably higher, to 73.9 MMT, up from a previous forecast of 71.2 MMT. May 14 Corn closed at $5.03 1/4, down 10 3/4 cents; Jul 14 Corn closed at $5.07, down 12 cents.


The market closed lower, although off session lows. Continued media reports of the poor US winter wheat crop conditions in states such as Kansas and Oklahoma keep grabbing the headlines, preventing the market from falling too far. For the time being at least. The final, and third, day of the Kansas wheat crop tour tour estimated the state yield at 33.2 bu/acre and production at 260.7 million bushels. Yields last year in Kansas were 38 bu/acre and production was 319.2 million bushels, so we are 12.6% down in yield and 18.3% down in output this year.

Once again "in English money" that's a production decrease of around 1.5 MMT from the largest wheat producing state in the US. The 40% loss in yield being reported by the Oklahoma crop tour represents an equivalent production decrease of around 1 MMT. I will leave you to decide if the loss of a combined 2.5 MMT between these two justifies the recent market rally. On a national level of course, some US states are reporting better anticipated yields than last year. Overall, MDA CropCast today forecast the US all wheat crop at 57 MMT, down 0.5 MMT from last week, and "only" 1.7 MMT below production in 2013. The USDA will release their first forecasts for US wheat production for the season ahead next week. It would be unusual for them to be quite so bearish on production prospects as early as May.

Before that, Informa are due out tomorrow. Last month they had their 2014/15 US winter wheat production estimate at 1.616 billion bushels,which was actually up 82 million versus 2013/14. I guess that a figure around 1.50-1.525 billion may be nearer the mark this time. Weekly US export sales came in at 214,900 MT of old crop and a similar 219,600 MT for shipment in 2014/15. Trade estimates for the report were 150,000–350,000 MT of old crop and 250,00-450,000 MT of new crop. May 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.98 3/4, down 14 1/4 cents; May 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $8.06 1/4, down 3 1/2 cents; May 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $7.48 3/4, down 8 1/4 cents.



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