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Grain price Deja vu?

Ag Marketing IQ: Time to reconsider grabbing the corn and soybean orders you passed on at the start of the year.

Jacob Burks, Partner

May 9, 2024

5 Min Read
Grain bins
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Isn’t it amazing how a situation can represent so many different feelings and emotions? A change of perspective can give you glimmers of hope instead of tears of despair. A good rain event in the middle of planting can be a glorious feeling if you have been waiting all winter for one or can be a dagger to hopes of record yields.

After spending multiple years with corn holding a $5 handle and beans in the teens, watching the markets can give you the same emotional roller coaster.

The November ’24 soybean market posted an opening high for the year at $12.37 back on the second day of the year. That was a gap lower and began four months of farmers wondering if they will be able to afford growing beans this year. Today we went a half of a cent above $12.30, and it felt different. It was a breath of fresh air.

What will you do with it? I have always encouraged scaled upselling. I like to reward a market for better opportunities. I like doing this with the comfort of having put option or floors below current price levels that will allow me to be patient.

The same type of trading pattern can be said for corn and wheat. Take yourself back to the post-harvest markets with the slow gradual decreasing prices and then a big move down after the first of the year. We were not happy with those prices coming into the new year, but we sure are happy to be here now.

Expectations for Friday’s WASDE

We had these doubts due to the amount of supply that is expected to be harvested over the next five months. On Friday, we will view the first estimates from the USDA in the May WASDE report of the new crop domestic corn and soybean balance sheets.

In corn, the trade is looking for:

  • A 180.7 average corn yield. This compares to 177.3 last year. Ending stocks for corn are estimated at 2.282 billion bushels. The 23/24 ending stocks are estimated at 2.094 billion bushels versus 2.122 on the April WASDE.

  • A smaller world corn carryout for 23/24, with the average estimate at 314.9 mmt versus 318.3 in April. The 24/25 world ending stocks are estimated at 319 mmt.

In soybeans, the trade expects:

  • A copy of the 52 bu. per acre yield from the outlook forum. This is compared to the 50.6 from 2023. Ending stocks are estimated at 439 million bushels. The 23/24 ending stocks are estimated at 341 million bushels slightly higher than April’s 340 million bushels.

At this point, most of the trade agrees on the anticipated production of corn, soybeans, and wheat in the U.S. You will start to see some discussion regarding the top end of the yields being reduced as we delay plantings from rains that fell last week and this coming week. There is a long time to discuss those possibilities.

My curiosity points me to what the USDA will do with the South American corn and soybean production. Two months ago, we were discussing too much rain in Southern Brazil and dryness in Mato Grosso. Now we are still talking about major flooding in Rio Grande de Sol and infestation of leafhoppers in Argentina.

The private analysts in South America are significantly lower in their estimate than USDA and have recently cut even more production.

Will soybean exports be impacted?

What does another potential 5 mmt cut to world soybean inventory do for potential export business for the U.S.? If the USDA cuts South American production, will they add export expectations for this marketing season or even into the ’24 marketing season?

There are a lot of moving parts when the supply and demand of these commodities get placed on a balance sheet.

Remember, this is the first time we will see the 24/25 ending stocks number and it is anticipated to be over 2.2 billion bushels and soybeans over 400 million bushels. Neither spell out a pretty picture of continuing a rally back to prices we have been accustomed to over the last few years.

While the managed money crowd holds onto a large net short position, we remain optimistic for a seasonal rally to continue to give us slightly better opportunities to sell cash grain. Don’t confuse this stance as a bullish stance.

We realize markets have ups and downs, and we want to have orders in place to take advantage of opportunities that five months ago we decided to pass on.

Stay safe during planting and stay focused on your profitability.

Please feel free to reach out to me at 608-384-5438 or anyone on the AgMarket.Net team at 844-4AG-MRKT. We’d love to hear from you.

The risk of loss in trading futures and/or options is substantial and each investor and/or trader must consider whether this is a suitable investment. AgMarket.Net® is the Farm Division of John Stewart and Associates (JSA) based out of St Joe, MO and all futures and options trades are cleared through ADMIS in Chicago IL. This material has been prepared by an agent of JSA or a third party and is, or is in the nature of, a solicitation. By accepting this communication, you agree that you are an experienced user of the futures markets, capable of making independent trading decisions, and agree that you are not, and will not, rely solely on this communication in making trading decisions. Past performance, whether actual or indicated by simulated historical tests of strategies, is not indicative of future results. Trading information and advice is based on information taken from 3rd party sources that are believed to be reliable. We do not guarantee that such information is accurate or complete and it should not be relied upon as such. Trading advice reflects our good faith judgment at a specific time and is subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee that the advice we give will result in profitable trades. The services provided by JSA may not be available in all jurisdictions. It is possible that the country in which you are a resident prohibits us from opening and maintaining an account for you.

About the Author(s)

Jacob Burks

Partner, AgMarket.Net

Jacob Burks is a partner of AgMarket.Net, the farm division of John Stewart & Associates. He joined AgMarket.Net as a hedging strategist during 2021. He was previously at First Capitol Ag and Kluis Commodity Advisors. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Business from Arkansas Tech University and earned his Masters in Business Administration from Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

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