Wheat wins the gold star in the latest USDA export report, covering the week ending August 22, after climbing to a marketing-year high. Corn and soybean exports didn’t fare too badly last week, either.
Wheat saw net sales reach 24.3 million bushels, landing on the high end of trade estimates that ranged between 9.2 million and 25.7 million bushels. Totals were up 11% from a week ago and 37% higher than the prior four-week average. South Korea (3.9 million), Mexico (3.3 million) and unknown destinations (2.7 million) rounded out the top three destinations.
“Wheat business remains good, no mean feat in a highly competitive world market,” according to Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “But sales continue to be split among a lot of customers taking relatively small amounts.”
Wheat export shipments fell 33% week-over-week, in contrast, coming in at 16.2 million bushels. Mexico was the No. 1 destination, with 4.2 million bushels, followed by Japan, Indonesia, Brazil and Guatemala.
Corn exports saw a small reduction in old crop sales, countered by 33.8 million bushels in new crop sales last week. That was good enough to land on the high end of trade estimates that ranged between 15.7 million and 41.3 million bushels. Mexico accounted for more than half of the total, with 21.5 million bushels.
“Corn is still a question mark on reaching the government’s forecast,” Knorr says. “Total sales and shipments are behind USDA’s projection, but there’s been a larger than normal discrepancy between the Foreign Agricultural Service data and the official statistics collected by the Census Bureau. So we may have to wait longer to find out what the real story was.”
Corn export shipments were for 24.1 million bushels – trending 13% higher than a week ago but down 8% from the prior four-week average. Mexico was again the No. 1 customer, with 7.9 million bushels. Other top destinations included Japan, Costa Rica, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Soybean exports totaled 3.5 million bushels in old crop sales plus another 13.0 million bushels in new crop sales for a total of 16.5 million bushels, on the low end of trade estimates that ranged between 5.5 million and 36.7 million bushels. Unknown destinations (5.0 million) and Mexico (4.5 million) led the way, with China also on the books with another 2.8 million bushels in old crop sales.
“China continues to book a few old and new crop soybeans and with the marketing year ending those buyers must decide whether to ship out 70 million bushels of outstanding sales,” Knorr says. “With at least a little better tone in the trade war today most if not all those deals could be rolled to 2019 delivery rather than cancelled. Soybeans appear ready to meet or exceed USDA’s forecast for the 2018 crop.”
Soybean export shipments were at 32.1 million bushels, which was down 26% from a week ago and 15% below the prior four-week average. China was the No. 1 destination, with 20.0 million bushels, followed by Mexico, South Korea, Egypt and Japan.
On a more negative note, the new crop books of sales for both corn and soybeans are trending at the lowest level in more than a decade heading into the start of the 2019/20 marketing year, which begins September 1. Knorr says it’s difficult to know just how significant this is for now, in the wake of trade wars disrupting trade flow.