Blogging by the Bushel
With numerous challenges over the past several years for producers, we at Mercer Landmark understand the need for a comprehensive risk management solution. We seek to provide our customers with unparalleled service to ensure maximum results.

Archive for the ‘Grain Comments’ Category

Market Report

Wednesday September 20th, 2017

December 17 corn closed up 1 ¾ at $3.50 and March 18 closed up 1 ¾ at $3.62 ½. November beans closed up 4 ½ at $9.70 and January 18 closed up 4 ½ at $9.80 ½. December wheat closed up 6 ¾ at $4.49 ¾ and July 18 closed up 5 ¼ at $4.94 ½. Crude oil closed up $.80 at $51.04.

Believe it or not, the corn market was able to put a little “green” on the board for once, finishing the day with slight gains. Volumes remain light and enthusiasm quite lacking.  The funds were viewed as net buyers of about 5,000 contracts today, which would pare their net short in corn back to roughly 150,000 futures and options. Though it didn’t occur until after the markets closed, the most significant thing to occur in an otherwise quiet news day was the sharp upside reversal in the US Dollar. Values were trading almost 1% higher late. Recent positive technical action could offer the index some measure of stability. The Fed left interest rates unchanged today, but believes there will be one more interest rate hike in 2017, three in 2018, two in 2019, and one in 2020. The impact on grains is debatable. It certainly did not support corn values on the way down. But a bounce in the US Dollar will not help US corn compete against foreign sellers, which has been an on-going struggle for many moons.

The soybean market reversed higher today, building on yesterday’s small victory. Beans were treated to a size flash sales announcement of 960 mt old crop and 120 mt new crop beans sold to unknown (China), in addition 132 mt old crop to China as they continue to get Q4 coverage in place. Demand from exports and crush remain a positive input for beans to offset the large supply story and provides a somewhat balanced trade for now.  Absent a supply side threat, upside potential should be limited from these levels. Weather is a non-factor at this point where the central to eastern belt will continue to enjoy Indian Summer-like warmth while below normal temps will creep into the west starting next week and into the end of September but no threats of a frost at this point. There will be moisture around for the western belt during this period so some fits and starts with harvest can accompany this. The southern hemisphere weather is getting more attention this past week due to dryness in Brazil but it is important to remember that this is still September and that dryness is somewhat normal, there is some rain in the forecasts and more season October rains are expected as the main planting season gets underway. The dryness will be monitored but not seen as a market mover at this timing.

The wheat complex continued its recovery from late yesterday, with both Chicago and KC making another run. It was the highest daily close since Aug 15 for December Chicago, but because KC did not close as strong, it does add a reason for some skepticism. Five of the past six days Chicago has tested the $4.50 area and there eventually comes a point in time where it is either going to make a run, or it is not. The reversal Tuesday and subsequent solid close today was a strong positive, but a firm US Dollar (post grain close) may curb some of that enthusiasm.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Tuesday September 19th, 2017

December 17 corn closed down 3 ¼ at $3.48 ¼ and March 18 closed down 3 ¼ at $3.60 ¾. November beans closed down 2 ¼ at $9.65 ½ and January 18 closed down 2 at $9.76. December wheat closed down ½ at $4.43 and July 18 closed up 1 at $4.89 ¼. Crude oil closed down $.45 at $49.90.

The corn market put in a “Monday-Tuesday” lower, finishing out the day as a three cent loser. End-user buying was again noted on the weakness, but it sure did nothing to prop up $3.50 support today. The funds were viewed net sellers of another 8,000 futures today, which would take their net short in corn to over 150,000 combined futures and options. There was not a great deal of fresh news around Tuesday. Traders are primarily picking through the limited harvest data available at this juncture.  Given that last night’s USDA report found national harvest progress at just 7%, only 2% higher wk/wk, there are still not a great deal of reports available. This implies over 1 BB of feedstuffs have been harvested to date. A wet start to the current week could further impede progress in the short-run, though a warmer end to the growing year should give crops a nice finishing push thereafter. Early reports have generally been better-than-expected, but it is still far too early to establish a defining trend. Elsewhere, on the world scene, China is gearing up for its own harvest amid excellent finishing weather.  Meteorologists are on “rain watch” in Brazil, while Argentine conditions even out. South American crop scout Cordonnier issued new crop estimates for Brazil and Argentine corn, pegging the former down 10% to 88 mmt, and Argy up 2.4% to 42 mmt.

The soybean market extended its break from the recent recovery highs today, trading $.09 lower at one point but the market couldn’t keep the pressure on and we floated back to moderate the day’s losses. Today’s negativity can be attributed to good late season weather with warmth and the return of rains (for crops that have not turned) and an absence of fresh export business which has become a regular and almost daily occurrence at 8 am of late. The choppy indecisive price action is indicative of a market that has a healthy balance of supply and demand forces now and is looking for something new to drive prices or develop a new trend. Brazil is dry and that is getting more attention and certainly worth monitoring in an otherwise quiet news cycle but it is not something to be overly concerned about in September where only the earliest of soybean planting takes place in the second half of the month. Seasonal rains are forecast to pick up in late September and in October – most of the planting for beans is done in Oct/Nov.

Trade across the wheat complex was a little better overnight, but gains were unable to hold during the day. News this morning on paper looked friendly, with Egypt in for wheat and Stats Can coming out with re-vised data, but an in-depth look was anything but. The GASC tender overnight produced around ten offers, of which the seven lowest were all Russian. So when prices reversed lower shortly after the day session started, it was not much of a surprise. Trade was on the defensive for much of the day, with Chicago, KC and Mpls each falling to more than seven cents lower. Chicago and KC prices gradually firmed over the latter half of the session with both markets trading higher in the modified.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Thursday September 14th, 2017

December 17 corn closed up 2 ¾ at $3.54 ¼ and March 18 closed up 2 ¾ at $3.66 ½. November beans closed up 15 ½ at $9.76 and January 18 closed up 15 ¼ at $9.86. December wheat closed down ¼ at $4.43 and July 18 closed down ½ at $4.88 ¼. Crude oil closed up $.60 at $50.35.

The corn market performed a little better today, managing to hold onto modest intraday gains to close higher. The funds were small net buyers today, which would likely pare their net short in corn back to just under 150,000 combined futures and options. The markets are eagerly awaiting yield reports from the field, which will likely be somewhat slow to materialize for at least another week. Indeed, a wetter pattern over the Midwest may delay things a bit more. At least it will be nice and warm, likely putting any frost worries to bed for now. The next weather story may end up being South America, but it is far too early in their planting cycle to raise any serious red flags.  Brazil is too dry (and will remain so for at least one week), while Argentina was trending too wet (though some improvement is expected in the short-run). The USDA delivered a second strong week of export sales in corn, though this was telegraphed ahead of time given the announced Mexican business of the past couple weeks. New 17/18 sales of 1.047 MMT were reported, half to Mexico, with the balance booked to other traditional customers (Colombia, Japan, Korea). The new sales takes total sales + shipped for the new marketing year to 10.5 mmt, which compares to just over 17.0 on the books this time last year for 16/17.

The soybean market extended its rally with sharp gains today that gave us a new recovery high close. November erased the Sept. USDA report flush and is now taking aim at the recent highs extending to $9.77. If exceeded, it would project a run to the second count to $9.90 which would erase the Aug report day flush. A third count shows at $10.23 but expect the break out rally to end up disappointing at the end of the day with domestic and global supplies limiting our upside potential in the absence a production threat. The rally is supported by export demand and a market that has some nervous shorts although not excessively so from a fund position perspective. The soybean sales featured China with 1.211 mmt which includes 399 tmt switched from previously announced sales to unknown as well a 198 mt late reported sale from last week. USDA flashed a new daily sale of 198 mt to China in addition. Soybean demand is one of the few bright spots in grains.

The wheat complex finished the night higher. When the day session started, similar to Wednesday, the markets would extend those gains. Thanks to a strong soy complex and a firm corn market, prices across the wheat complex were able to rally above Wednesday’s highs, but also in similar action to yesterday’s trade, the markets were unable to hold those early gains. Export sales this morning were ho-hum, and there really is not a lot of other fresh news around. Seasonally, a post-harvest bounce is not uncommon, but the question going forward is how much of a bounce can we actually see, especially with some countries seeing record or near record crops. Strength in wheat this week may also be coming from basis gains as mills and exporters have to buy inventories from elevators that have locked in huge $1.00 plus carries.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Wednesday September 13th, 2017

December 17 corn closed unchanged at $3.51 ½ and March 18 closed unchanged at $3.63 ¾. November beans closed up 10 at $9.50 ½ and January 18 closed up 10 at $9.60 ¾. December wheat closed up 1 ¼ at $4.43 ¼ and July 18 closed down ¼ at $4.88 ¾. Crude oil closed up $1.00 at $49.75.

The corn market made a brave stab at a post-report rally, and on the highs indeed nearly made up all of the report day losses.  That pop didn’t last long, however, and the gains gradually receded as the day dragged on. Futures would finish unchanged, though the market generally traded higher in the post. The funds were believed small net sellers of the day, which would take their net short in the market out to over 150,000 contracts.  The trade now appears to be in that semi-uncomfortable lull between the USDA report and the start of more widespread harvest. The remnants of Tropical Storm Irma brought light rain to the lower-Eastern Corn Belt Tuesday while the remainder of the Midwest was dry with unseasonably warm temperatures in the northwest (80′s and 90′s). The warm-up was likely welcome – adding growing degree days plus drying mature crops off for harvest. Delta/SE harvest likely to resume with a nice two weeks of dryness. USDA expected to re-survey acres in this area. The biggest weather issue of note may be abroad, where early South American planting conditions have not been ideal. Concern over persistent dryness in center south and center west Brazil remains, and no opportunity for rain is expected for the next ten days. Argentina has been too wet. Still early to worry.

The soybean market built on yesterday’s post report resiliency for a higher close putting prices right back above pre-report trading levels. The soybean price action has negated the impact of the USDA’s .5 bushel yield increase that took production up 50 mb and increased the record bin buster crop size and it adds confidence to the idea that the market has already priced in this mega soybean crop. The USDA this morning flashed another 167 mt sale of beans, this one to Mexico, in what has been nearly a daily occurrence of late and serves as a reminder that we have strong demand at these price relationships to competing exports, ie Brazil. Tomorrow, we’ll get a USDA weekly export sales report where the trade is expecting sales of 1.0-1.3 beans. Elsewhere in the news, USDA FSA data Tuesday showed as of Sept 1 2017 failed Soybean acres totaled 0.024 mln acres compared to August 0.021 mln.  SDA FSA data Tuesday showed as of Sep 1 2017 prevent plant Soybean acres at 0.432 mln

The wheat complex followed up Tuesday’s strong reversal after an initial knee-jerk reaction lower move following the crop report data. Granted Australia’s crop is getting smaller, and there are a few issues in other parts of the World, but with the huge Russia crop combined with a French wheat crop that has rebounded nicely after last year’s disaster, it makes it difficult to sustain strength in consecutive sessions – and we saw that today. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we have export sales in the morning. Sales were in line with expectations last week, coming in at 376 MT. Expectations for tomorrow are for sales to come in between 400 and 500 MT.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Tuesday September 12th, 2017

December 17 corn closed down 6 at $3.51 ½ and March 18 closed down 6 at $3.63 ¾. November beans closed down 9 ½ at $9.50 ½ and January 18 closed down 9 ¼ at $9.60 ¾. December wheat closed up 7 ¼ at $4.42 and July 18 closed up 5 ½ at $4.89.  Crude oil closed up $.13 at $48.75.

The USDA continued to play “Keep Away” with yield bulls, once again defying trade expectations by raising corn production estimates from August. The end result was a $.06 lower finish, though that was notably $.05 above the day’s lows. The market fully tested the reversal lows from two weeks ago, but was not able to erase it. The funds were believed net sellers of another 10,000 to 15,000 contracts today.

What did the report say? More of the same, really: big corn production, big domestic carryout, and comfy world supplies.  The report offered nothing earth-shatteringly new, but yet one more time disappointed bulls looking for data to support their case. The USDA raised US corn production forecasts by 30 MB from Aug to 14.184 billion. They accomplished this by inching yield projections higher to 169.9 bpa, from 169.5 bpa in August, while leaving the “cut” (harv acres) unchanged at 83.5 million.  Perhaps the most puzzling item was the net reduction in the USDA’s 17/18 demand forecast. They actually reduced it 50 mmt from Aug. How? Well, they reduced corn-for-ethanol demand by 25 and HCFS demand by 50? Why? Traders are not sure, particularly with weekly ethanol production nearly notching a new record high in August. The end result was a modest up-tick in 17/18 carryout projections to 2.335 billion, while 16/17 saw the expected small downtick to 2.35 billion on the larger export “true-up”.

Back to our regular reporting schedule, the EIA will issue their oil status report tomorrow.  The ethanol section will be interesting given continued Hurricane influences.  We would expect seasonal (fall) maintenance timings to begin to cut into ethanol run times.  Ethanol production should inch at least 2-3% lower this week.  With blender interest likely restrained due to the storm, we would not be surprised if ethanol stocks build a little?  The market does not seem to agree, though, as crush margins improved yet again to new recent highs?  We would estimate spot margins at 40-55 cents/bu processed, or 15-20 cents/gal, including all cash inputs and fixed costs.

In the options pit, volatility sold off by about 1%, particularly after it became clear corn was not going to zero post-report.  Selling of March Puts seemed to be the post-report trade of feature, though some used that premium to buy upside calls.  Calendar spreads were a touch weaker.  Note, Sept futures expire at noon on Thursday.  Corn was close to even on the beans, but lost to the wheat; the latter spread traded to a one month high after a July-Aug drubbing.  Technically, the report likely solidifies Dec Corn initial resistance in the $3.60 area.  Support in the $3.45-$3.50 area technically held the break today; should it fall by the wayside, we would project a ten cent continuation of the break.  The “real” trade tends to occur lately the day after the report – stay tuned?

The soybean market sold off sharply following the USDA crop report where the trade once again was looking for a reduction in yield but the government added a half bushel to add to their record US crop projection. With that said, the board closed $.13 off the day’s low demonstrating underlying support and that we potentially have already priced in these big crops. This would suggest that we could be looking at a more two-sided trade going forward.  Near term rallies should still be limited by excessive global and domestic supply while breaks stimulate consumptive interest and export demand.  Yield was raised by .5 to 49.9 bpa taking production up by 50 mb to a new record 4.431 bb. Old crop carryout was reduced by 25 mb to 345 mb on a 20 mb bigger export number and a 5 mb bigger crush.  The new crop carryout was left unchanged at 475 mb as the 50 mb production increase was offset by lower beginning stocks and a 25 mb increase in exports. On the WASDE report, world soybean old crop stocks tightened by 1 mmt to 95.96 mmt while new crop stocks tightened by 250 tmt to 97.53 mmt. These were both slightly bigger than pre-report trade estimates.

The wheat complex saw slightly lower price action for much of the night, but as it neared the morning break prices firmed and we entered the pause a little better across the board. During the first few hours of the morning, price action was mixed, with little momentum in either direction. There really was no big surprise in the crop report data for wheat. Whether it was buying wheat and selling corn, or buying Chicago and KC wheat and selling Mpls. As we look ahead to tomorrow, there was nothing friendly in the report, yet there was nothing really too negative either. That makes the wheat market a follower to the rest of the complex – unless of course we see more of the spread unwinds.

What the Crop Report said:

The USDA left US 2017/18 ending stocks unchanged from last month at 933 MB. After only lowering them 5 MB last month from July (938 down to 933 after many were looking for anywhere from a 30 to 100 MB reduction), once again most people were looking for some sort of reduction, with the average estimate for around a 10 to 15 mil reduction. This was the only surprise of the report, and weighed on futures initially. On the World side, after two consecutive months of small increases, the USDA finally lowered its 2016/17 World carryout numbers from 258.56 MMT down to 255.83 MMT. The USDA also lowered its 2017/18 numbers down to 263.14. Remember, last month they caught a lot of people off guard when they increased it over 4 MMT to 264.69 MMT. Trade should have no issues with either the 2016/17 or the 2017/18 numbers. On the World production side, there really were no surprises. They lowered Australia and the EU. They could have lowered maybe a couple other areas, but they definitely needed to lower these and they did. The USDA also raised Russia and the FSU’s wheat crop by 3.5 MMT each. Again, both areas needed to be raised, and the USDA acted accordingly.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Friday September 8th, 2017

December 17 corn closed up 1 ½ at $3.56 ¾ and March 18 closed up 1 ¼ at $3.69. November beans closed down 6 ¾ at $9.62 and January 18 closed down 6 ½ at $9.72. December wheat closed up ½ at $4.37 ¾ and July 18 closed up 2 at $4.86 ¾. Crude oil closed down $1.47 at $48.06.


Corn traders returned from the Labor Day holiday to push prices into the upper half of the previous week’s trading range on short covering.  Good news also greeted the market when Vietnam lifted the ban on US DDG imports.  They are one of the top destinations for our DDG exports. The US dollar index faded to its lowest level since January 2015. The European Union has signaled they will wind down their quantitative easing economic program and there was uncertainty about the US debt ceiling. This has likely provided a level of support for commodities, but was a larger factor in the soybeans. December corn was 1 ½ cents higher for the week. The contract low is $3.44 ¼ per bushel made on August 31st.  Export inspections for the week ended August 31st (the end of the crop year) were 31.4 million bushels, bringing total inspections for the crop year to 2.240 billion bushels.  The current USDA projection is 2.225 billion bushels. Weekly export sales were delayed until Friday in deference to the Labor Day holiday.  Old crop sales were net cancellations of 14.1 million bushels.  New crop sales were 58.3 million bushels.  Total new crop commitments at 334.2 million bushels (not including any old crop rollover) are running 28.2% behind last year. The USDA is currently predicting exports to fall 16.8% year on year. Mexico was a buyer during the week, bringing their purchases to 133 million bushels for new crop, up from the 5-year average for this date at 123 million bushels.  Japan, on the other hand, has only booked 37 million bushels versus the 5-year average of 79 million bushels on the tally at this time of year.  Mexico’s percentage of US corn exports in the last ten years is up 10%, while Japan’s share has dropped 10%.  It could be Mexico making purchases due to uncertainty over the NAFTA talks. The next WASDE report will be released September 12th.  The average trade guesses ahead of the report are as follows (versus the USDA August number):  2017/2018 production 14.035 BB with 168.2 BPA versus 14.153 billion using 169.5 BPA; US 16/17 ending stocks 2.340 BB versus 2.370 billion; US 17/18 ending stocks 2.180 BB versus 2.273 billion; world 16/17 ending stocks 228 mmt versus 228.6 mmt; world 17/18 ending stocks 200.74 mmt versus 200.87 mmt.  With many assuming the average trade guesses have already been incorporated into the market, it may be difficult for corn to extend to the upside.

Soybeans began the week with a blast higher on short-covering, technical buying, and on-going demand.  A dry finish to the crop year also lent support to ideas of a smaller crop.  There didn’t seem to be one outstanding factor that was behind the post-Labor Day surge higher.  November soybeans rallied 12 ½ cents for the week. Weekly export inspections as of August 31st were 23.7 million bushels.  This brings the total inspections for the crop year to 2.120 BB compared to the USDA forecast for 2.150 BB.  Weekly export sales showed net cancellations for old crop, which is normal for the end of the crop year, and the highest new crop sales of the year.  Old crop net cancellations were 13.5 million bushels with new crop sales of 56 million bushels.  New crop total commitments are 478.5 million bushels (not including any old crop rollover), down 30.6% from last year.  The USDA is forecasting exports to be up 3.5% from 2016/2017 to 2017/2018. It will soon be time to begin watching planting weather in Brazil.  Soybean planting can legally begin in Parana September 11th and on September 15th in Mato Grosso.  Planting may be delayed slightly as growers look for some rain.  Average trade estimates for the September 12th WASDE report (versus the USDA August number):  2017/2018 production 4.328 BB using 48.8 BPA versus 4.381 billion using 49.4 BPA; US 16/17 ending stocks 370 million bushels versus 370 million; US 17/18 ending stocks 442 MB versus 475 million; world 16/17 ending stocks 96.8 mmt versus 97 mmt; world 17/18 ending stocks 97.39 mmt versus 97.78 mmt.  The September WASDE report will need to post numbers more bullish than the trade estimates to maintain strength.  Soybeans have a negative seasonal for September.  If the WASDE report can’t generate any buying enthusiasm, the lower seasonal trend will likely take control as we head into harvest.

Wheat prices stayed close to Thursday’s prices. Any short-term gains will continue to be limited by large world stocks. According to the latest USDA export sales report, wheat added another 14.8 million bushels in sales for delivery in 2017/18. That was down 30% from a week ago and 26% off the four-week average. More than one-quarter of the U.S. wheat crop is shipped out of the Gulf of Mexico – a region that has faced numerous logistical disruptions due to flooding and other damage from Hurricane Harvey. Cancellations occurred in Indonesia, unknown destinations and Thailand. Export shipments were down 61% from a week ago and went primarily to Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Mexico and Indonesia. Exports remain below USDA forecasts.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Thursday September 7th, 2017

December 17 corn closed down 5 ¾ at $3.55 ¼ and March 18 closed down 5 ¾ at $3.67 ¾. November beans closed down 2 ¼ at $9.68 ¾ and January 18 closed down 2 ¼ at $9.78 ½. December wheat closed down 8 ½ at $4.37 ¼ and July 18 closed down 8 ½ at $4.84 ¾. Crude oil closed down $.09 at $49.53.

After successfully fighting off the bear Tuesday and Wednesday, few likely would have guessed the market would succumb today.  Yet that is exactly what happened, as a minor overnight pullback extended into the day session. The fund traders returned to the sell side of corn, putting back out 10,000 shorts today. This would plump their overall position back to up to over 100,000 contract net short. Tough to say what exactly triggered today’s break in corn. An early prediction was “start lower, end higher,” given very recent market trends and the sinking value of the Dollar intraday. That clearly did not end up being the case. One culprit may have been a turn in the outlook maps away from “cool and dry” to “warmer and wetter”. This may have reduced “frost risk premiums”, and a little extra moisture could help immature corn. On the world scene, Argentina’s harvest finally appeared to be reaching its conclusion after crawling along for several months (97% done vs. 93.6% last week). China finishing weather looks favorable. There was a marked uptick in interest in this week’s reserve corn auction. China sold 766,122 mt out of a total of 1.3 mmt 2013 & 2014 vintage offered.  Recent auctions have been lucky to clear 25%.

The soybean market continued its two-sided, back and forth trade for a second day. If beans are going to break deeper, support registers in the gap just above $9.50 while another push higher would project a run to the second count and August report-day reversal at $9.90 so for a moment, we are dealing with around $.20 upside and downside risk, at least until we get to the crop report next week. Some interesting currency movement today with the Brazilian real establishing a new contract high while the dollar threatening new lows. In the bigger picture, the US crop size is getting more crystalized by the day. While we have some problems due to the recently drier bias the overall positive August weather helped the crop yields tremendously. If we aren’t looking at a record crop (with lots of help from bigger acreage), then we aren’t very far off either.  We don’t have any frost threats in the forecast.  Southern Hemisphere supplies are robust.  All of this is already priced in. The demand side of beans is very healthy thanks to the early return of China who is the global driver for exports and the US has been able to step in and compete very well with Brazil for those exports over the past 4 weeks thanks to abundant old crop supplies. The resumption of the exports to China have helped stabilize the downside pressure and gives the market more balance to the heavy supplies.

Price action across the wheat complex was mixed overnight. That trend would continue for much of the day, however the weakness in the HRW and SRW wheat contracts did take the Spring wheat futures briefly lower. For now it looks as if the long liquidation in flat price and inter-market spreads involving Mpls wheat has run its course as today’s settle in the Dec is $.24 off this week’s lows. Today’s weakness in both Chicago and KC gave back much of those markets gains over the past three days, and it will be important to see support surface on any further weakness tomorrow or we could go right back down and test the lows.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Tuesday September 5th, 2017

December 17 corn closed up 3 ¼ at $3.58 ½ and March 18 closed up 3 ¼ at $3.71. November beans closed up 19 at $9.68 ½ and January 18 closed up 19 at $9.78 ¼. December wheat closed up 4 ¼ at $4.43 and July 18 closed up 1 ½ at $4.87 ¼. Crude oil closed up $1.15 at $49.14.

The corn market started the short week with modest gains in a quiet, rather unenthusiastic trade. Managed Money traders were viewed net buyers of about 6,000 contracts today, which would leave them net short just over 100,000 corn futures/options.  Among other things, the market seemed interesting in putting a little “frost premium” in, as we are expected to see the coldest temperatures of the season in the Midwest tonight into tomorrow night. Most weather gurus seem to believe that damage will be minimal. If correct, this is enough for a so-called “soft frost”, but falls well short of the “hard freeze” needed to harm corn yield prospects. Hurricane Irma may also bring some threatening rain, flooding and wind, to the southeastern states and the system needs to be closely monitored. Net drying is expected for most of the Midwest, which is likely a good thing for corn as we wind down the growing year. Crop progress report after the close found a small downtick in national condition ratings, which is typical for this late in the season. 61% of the crop was rated Good-Excellent, -1% wk/wk, and compares to 74% G-E this time last year. Perhaps more importantly, 60% of the crop was dented (off 8% from avg), while 12% was considered mature (off 6% from avg).  Need to be black-layered (aka “mature”) to avoid frost damage.

The soybean market started the holiday shortened week with a gap higher and never looked back. The buying today was fueled in part by ongoing export demand with the USDA flashing another 136 mt of beans sold to China. It was partly fueled by a cooler and drier weather forecast that is not ideal for finishing the crop.  It was partly fueled by short covering with the charts taking a more positive near term posture and a USDA crop report one week out. Forecasts lack any crop damaging cold the next couple of nights but many areas of ND, SD, MN, WI will drop to the lower 40′s. Crop conditions report this afternoon showed soybeans unchanged at 61% gte while pvp also held steady at 11%. The states that saw the greatest improvement were TN +6 and WI +2 while the states that saw the greatest deterioration were LA -14, MI -2, MS -9, NC -5 and ND -4 – good ole’ USDA rounding to smooth out to unchanged overall.  The crop is 11% dropping leaves up from 5% last week. Soybean export inspections totaled 645 mt compared to 737 mt a week ago and 1.232 mmt this week a year ago.

Price action across the wheat complex was better overnight, with Chicago the strongest. The COT report on Friday may have been a supporting factor as it showed funds increasing their new short position, while most were looking for a small reduction. When the day session began, trade settled into a trend familiar to what we saw late last week. Chicago did not have the energy to extend gains, but there was enough interest to keep prices slightly higher throughout the day. Export inspections this morning were disappointing, and the export lineup this week is off to another quiet start. Spring wheat harvest moved up 13 to 89% complete. This is 11% ahead of the 5 year average of 78%, but still slightly behind last year’s pace which was 90% complete.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Thursday August 31st, 2017

December 17 corn closed up 12 ¼ at $3.57 ¾ and March 18 closed up 12 ¼ at $3.70 ½. November beans closed up 12 at $9.45 ¼ and January 18 closed up 12 at $9.54 ¾. December wheat closed up 4 ¾ at $4.34 ½ and July 18 closed up 5 at $4.83 ½. Crude oil closed down $.49 at $46.51.

The corn market finally managed to find a good rally today – a feat we have not accomplished in roughly three weeks. It looked like more of the same early, with a steady/lower night session carrying over into the day open. The market would ultimately close $.12 higher, erasing five days’ worth of negative trade.  The funds were viewed net buyers of roughly 25,000 contracts today, as they likely found themselves slightly over-extended after a recent selling binge.  They will likely go into tonight short 110,000 corn futures/options. There did not appear to be a single fundamental driver behind today’s rally. It may have been a simple combination of an oversold market, seasonality (not unusual to see a market bottom near Sept 1), and a couple dribbles of good (minor) news talking points. It was also the end of a month, which can often be a time for funds to deploy new monies or sew-up existing positions. There were also only 844 deliveries put out against Sept overnight, which was far less than expected.  Simply getting that contract behind us may have helped. Export sales offered a rare glimpse of good news this morning, nearly topping 1 mmt in new business for the first time in months. Sales were 188,400 mt for old crop and 804,200 for new. China made an appearance, along with unknown, Japan, and some Latin business. Watch for plenty of private corn production estimates to trickle out over the next couple of weeks in advance of the USDA September crop report.  FC Stone drew first blood tonight, projecting a 13.94 billion bushel US harvest on a 166.9 bpa yield. This compares to the USDA’s controversial August estimate of 14.153 billion on a 169.5 bpa yield. Market still on “frost watch” for early September, though early indications suggest temps will not get cold enough to stimulate a hard freeze for most.

A strong session led off today by a sharp rally in corn futures. End of the month short covering, seasonal buying and lack of deliveries had values on the rise. Southern US harvest expected to resume. Louisiana gulf loading operations are back to normal having no damage from the storm system. Rail in Texas is more of a concern. There is speculation the rail stoppage from flooding could last up to 6 weeks. Soybean exports fell within range with 123.2 mt sold for the 2016 marketing year. And 1.55 mmt sold for 2017. Crop estimates started to trickle out with FC Stone leading off with a national yield of 49.8 bpa and a production number of 4418 mb. This 2.1 bu. above last month. The USDA is already a week into their data collection process for the US soy crop and should be able to make better assessment with higher maturity and further filling of soybean pods. Still the crop is in flux since soybeans remain indeterminate through September. The funds were estimated buyers of 5,000 contracts today.

The wheat complex finished the night mixed with Chicago and KC hovering around unchanged to a little better, while Mpls was under pressure after huge deliveries overnight. Export sales this morning were at the high end of expectations, coming in at 536 MT, with an additional 30 MT of new crop for combined sales of 566 MT. Total sales to date are 444 mb vs 435 last year. Stats Canada released their first production estimates of the year. Remember, the data from Stats Can is the result of a farmers survey conducted over the July 19 to August 1 time frame. Stats Can pegged their total wheat crop for 2017 at 25.541 MMT vs 31.729 MMT last year.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Wednesday August 30th, 2017

December 17 corn closed down 3 ¼ at $3.45 ½ and March 18 closed down 3 ¼ at $3.58 ¼. November beans closed down 4 at $9.33 ¼ and January 18 closed down 3 ¾ at $9.42 ¾. December wheat closed unchanged at $4.29 ¾ and July 18 closed up 1 ½ at $4.78 ½. Crude oil closed down $.49 at $46.51.

The corn market finished lower today, extending the slide to ten out of the last twelve sessions. Unlike the past few days, there was not much of an effort to rally the markets intraday, as we seemed to follow a broad “downtick, then stabilize” trend.  The funds were viewed net sellers of roughly 12,000 contracts today, which would take their net short in the market to an estimated 135,000 contracts. Outright volumes were not substantial, but spread volumes were massive. Over 120,000 Sept/Dec corn spreads traded today ahead of First Notice Day for delivery tomorrow. Corn continued its march lower, as we await the start of the Midwest harvest next month. Frost potentials and Hurricane Harvey remain the only two significant weather topics of note.  On the former point, the cold is still in the forecast, but spot checks of some upper Midwest locations show temperature expectations that should stay north of freezing. Still, the potential is there, and the market is very much acting like there is no risk whatsoever. One positive sign of stability in the grain markets came from the European (Matif) wheat, which featured positive trade today and may have left behind an island bottom on the daily chart.

The soybean market continued lower for a fourth consecutive session. While flat price gives back some of its recent recovery the feature trades were all spread related. USDA flashed 131 mt of beans sold to China – in the past week there have been 877 mt of new crop sales announced. Demand is strong at these price relationships. A wildcard on production is the potential for a frost event across the upper Midwest next week as much below normal temps move in from Canada spread out through the Great Lakes region and brings the risk of crop damaging cold.   Looking at the local forecasts for Madison, WI and Marshall, MN we don’t see temps reaching below 44 degrees for a low during this stretch but this cold spell will need to be monitored because a frost ending the soybean growing season early in those areas would change the marketplace.

The wheat complex finished the night higher across the board, but once again we saw the markets struggle to hold overnight strength. Price action today looked very similar to what we saw yesterday, with continued liquidation in the intra-market wheat spreads between Mpls and Chicago and Mpls and KC. Spring wheat prices did not fall as much as they did on Tuesday, but they did slip to almost ten cents lower before rebounding late. Both Chicago and KC hovered around unchanged much of the day, but KC settled the strongest as for the second day in a row we saw strong buying on the close. As we look ahead to tomorrow, it will be interesting to see if we get that late buying again as first notice day tends to be a weak day for trade. Have a little business around as we end the week as Japan is in for their usual weekly tender overnight, and Tunisia is in as well. Data from Stats Can may be a little more influential than normal, with the biggest question being will they trend similarly to the US and be a little higher than expected and adjust later.

Anna Kaverman