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Corn, soybean prices sputter

Weather models, Vegetation Health Index readings and Farm Futures' survey predict near-record yields this fall.

Missed some market news this week? Here's all the news you need to get you caught up.

Ag Marketing IQ

This week many producers were asking, “what can make prices go up?” We still have a pile of bushels from the 2019 corn crop remaining to be sold, plus a good-looking corn crop in the field. It is necessary to make plans on when you will be moving bushels. Keep in mind, this is an election year and many things we least expect can make the market move higher and lower. The U.S. dollar weakening should offer a very strong export picture on corn and beans.

When the USDA lowered planted corn acreage at the end of June down to 92 million acres versus previous expectations of 97 million acres, it seemed that corn futures prices had found firm footing. It felt like an overly bearish price forecast could be thrown out the window.  Unfortunately, corn futures received a sucker punch this week when preliminary yield estimates were released by various private forecasters, including Farm Futures. With a lack of a stressful summer weather event, trade is now anticipating record or near record yield for corn, putting total production close to 15 billion bushels.

Weather models, Vegetation Health Index readings, and the government’s own weekly crop ratings all point to the same conclusion reported this week by Farm Futures’ survey. There’s little indication of trouble overall, which should lead to ample supplies unless the end of the growing season takes a dramatic turn for the worse.

Exports

For the latest batch of grain export inspection data from USDA, results were mixed but somewhat disappointing. Soybeans trended higher from a week ago but only managed to make it to the middle of trade estimates. Corn and wheat fell lower, meantime, with sorghum continuing to significantly outpace last year’s tally.

USDA’s latest batch of grain export data, out Thursday morning and covering the week through July 30, contained some hopeful numbers for corn and soybeans. While soybeans were unable to match the prior week’s massive total, they still turned in a solid round of sales. And corn rebounded from a disappointing round of results a week ago with a large haul of new crop sales.

Export sales were reported on four days this week. China took 28.5 million bushels of soybeans and unknown took 9.6 million bushels of soybeans.

Crop progress

For the second straight week, analysts expected USDA to hold corn and soybean quality ratings steady when it released its latest batch of crop progress data Monday afternoon. Corn quality ratings remained stable from a week ago, with 72% of the crop rated in good-to-excellent condition. Another 21% of the crop is rated fair, with the remaining 7% rated poor or very poor – all unchanged from last week. The agency bumped soybean ratings up one point to 73%.

A Pennsylvania grower reported "we are extremely dry" in Farm Futures Feedback from the Field series. A North Central Iowa farmer said, "In areas (soybean plants) look like late August with no to a few pods on the stems."

A new farmer survey by Farm Futures found 2020 corn yield projections to increase 11.5 bushels per acre from 2019 to 178.9 bpa. Based on updated acreage estimates from USDA’s June 30 Acreage report, Farm Futures’ 2020 corn yield estimate would raise 2020 corn production to 15.032 billion bushels, 32 million bushels higher than July 2020 WASDE estimates. Growers in Farm Futures’ survey estimated 2020 yields at 51.0 bpa, up 3.6 bpa from 2019. If realized, that would put 2020 soybean production at 4.233 billion bushels, 98 million bushels higher than July 2020 WASDE projections and 19% higher than 2019 production.

Recaps

Corn futures traded slightly lower this morning on favorable weather forecasts for crop development. September futures shed $0.005/bushel to $3.1075 in overnight trade. New crop December futures also dropped $0.005/bushel lower to $3.2325. Rising chances for a large soybean crop this fall and deepening diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and China weighed heavily on the soy complex this morning. September soybean futures lost $0.025/bushel to $8.7225 while new crop November futures were on pace to give up $0.0225/bushel to $8.7575. After a week of losses, wheat prices rose this morning on a round of technical buying. And heavy world stocks and improving global production forecasts will likely continue to add downward price pressure to the wheat complex.

Because more people are now bracing for record or near-record corn and soybean yields this fall, prices have sputtered, even though export trends have been pointed in a positive direction. Corn and soybean prices each dropped another 1% Friday, as traders began to square positions ahead of USDA’s next major supply and demand data dump, out next Wednesday. Wheat prices also spilled into the red today, although losses were generally not as severe after getting sliced earlier in the week.

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