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Image of grain bins with words Grain market week in review with Bryce Knorr and Ben Potter in white. Entire image has red tint.

Grain market week in review - July 19, 2019

Corn, soybeans and wheat all end marketing week on positive tone

Missed some market news this week? Here’s what Bryce Knorr and Ben Potter wrote about. 

Audio   

Futures are starting to struggle after fading a higher open Sunday night. While fields face hot temperatures this week, forecasts differ after that causing markets to turn more cautious. The remnants of Hurricane Barry are moving across the lower Mississippi River into the Ohio River Valley but parts of the Corn Belt will be dry again this week.   

While its very hot in the present, traders looking at past and future conditions opted to ignore the current heat. Crop ratings improved last week, at least according to USDA’s weekly report, and forecasts call for much milder temperatures next week. Corn and soybeans sold off again overnight as a result. 

Grain futures are still trying to find their footing despite highs that will top 100 degrees in some areas into the weekend. Forecasts for cooler conditions in the second week of the outlook are still keeping the market on the defensive after this week’s crop ratings showed no deterioration. Demand news is also fairly to inspire much confidence from traders.   

Grain futures tried to bounce back early in the overnight session but the attempt failed, leaving markets lower this morning. While 100-degree-heat bakes much of the Corn Belt the next two days, cooler temperatures are on the way next week. Uncertainty over yield and acreage should provide some support for prices but export news today should provide much short-term help. 

Grain futures are trying to hold at the end of a down week, but the cooler forecasts that caused the break limited gains overnight. Concerns about demand also surfaced Thursday following another tepid export sales report as traders wonder what China will do with all the soybeans it bought earlier in the year. 

Crop progress 

After a cold, wet start to the growing season, some heat and dry weather wasn’t the worst forecast for corn and soybeans last week. But with little rain in the heart of the Midwest, some fields are fading from already variable levels according to growers posting Feedback From The Field last week.   

For the week ending July 14, analysts expected USDA to drop corn quality by a point and hold soybean quality steady. But the agency did neither of those things, moving each crop a point higher in its latest Crop Progress report, out Monday afternoon. 

Exports 

USDA handed out a mixed bag of export inspection data in its weekly report Monday morning. Soybeans emerged as the clear winner, trending slightly higher week-over-week and besting analyst expectations, while corn and wheat slumped lower for the week ending July 11. 

Soybean sales tallied 4.7 million bushels in old crop sales plus another 7.3 million bushels in new crop sales last week, for a total of 12.0 million bushels. That was slightly better than the prior week’s tally of 9.6 million bushels but below trade estimates of 14.7 million bushels. Corn exports saw 7.9 million bushels in old crop sales plus another 5.2 million bushels in new crop sales for a total of 13.1 million bushels last week. That was slightly behind the prior week’s total of 15.6 million bushels and moderately below trade estimates of 22.6 million bushels. Wheat exports moved slightly higher to 12.8 million bushels last week, besting the prior week’s tally of 10.5 million bushels and trade estimates of 11.0 million bushels. 

Market recaps 

Grain futures are trying to rebound at the end of a punishing week, finding a little support from searing temperatures and resumption of trade talks between the U.S. and China. 

Another seesaw week draws to a close on the grain markets Friday, with a round of short-covering lifting soybean prices more than 2% higher today. Some technical buying also helped corn and wheat prices capture similar gains. 

 Outlooks   

Basis outlook - Farmers who kept bin doors sealed tight waiting for higher prices are finally in the drivers’ seat. That’s especially true in the corn market where growers benefited from both strong basis and higher futures prices last week, a two-fer that’s hard to come by during summer rallies.   

Fertilizer outlook - We recommended getting serious about looking for 2020 nutrients earlier this month, figuring higher corn prices would lure more ground to the nitrogen-dependent crop. A firm tone to the nitrogen market this week indeed is increasing potential a seasonal bottom is in. 

Wheat outlook - In normal times during July, wheat is often the first market to turn after making harvest lows when combines roll across the central and southern Plains. But for wheat to muster much of a rally this year, help will be needed from higher corn prices. 

Energy/ethanol outlook - Corn growers have plenty of reason for anxiety right now due to the effects of weather. Energy markets would also seem rife for stress after a month that’s seen tanker attacks and hurricanes threatening supplies. Global energy demand is just as much a question mark. Doom and gloom on financial markets one day gives way to record stock prices the next.  

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