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Grain market week in review: July corn futures dropped 8 cents; Wheat prices finish mixed.

Compiled by staff

May 21, 2021

4 Min Read

Missed some market news this week? Here's what Jacquie Holland, Ben Potter and our Ag Marketing IQ bloggers have been writing about.

Ag Marketing IQ

A little over a year ago the USDA had the corn balance sheet supporting an estimated 3.3-billion-bushel carryout. Today we might be lucky to have a billion-bushel corn carryout for the current marketing year. With that being said, July corn futures were down almost 90 cents last week, which begs the question, “are the highs in?” That is a great question. As a student of the market, you know that price prediction is impossible.

Most of the U.S. corn crop isn’t out of the ground yet and the key pollination window is a month or two away. So, while it’s admittedly way too early to be forecasting yields, the puzzle pieces pointing to the size of this year’s harvest are starting to fall into place after an important milestone this week. USDA Monday reported 80% of the crop was planted nationally as of Sunday, May 16, 12% more than the five-year average. The model points to slightly above “normal” yields of 180 bpa.

The May WASDE report provided us fresh insight into what USDA was estimating for the 2021/2022 marketing season.  The report summarized the interesting position we find ourselves in, which is that even with a large crop this season, any increase in ending stocks should be modest. Put another way, unless we have a bumper crop, ending stocks continue to remain tight throughout next year.

Volatility! What a week for the corn market! While last week’s USDA report continued to deliver long term friendly news, the data released was not friendly enough to justify grain taking another run higher in the short term. Therefore, funds began to sell, triggering sell stops, which then triggered additional technical selling. Looking back at years with triumphant price rallies, there were plenty of times along the way where a swift price correction occurred to the downside.

Crop progress

Corn and soybean planting progress continued to see some good forward momentum this past week, per USDA’s latest crop progress report, covering the week through May 16. Analysts were expecting to see more corn acres in the ground, but soybean progress was more in line with trade expectations.


USDA’s latest batch of grain export inspection data, covering the week through May 13, held mostly positive news for traders to digest after corn, soybeans and wheat all notched moderate week-over-week gains. Corn volume stayed on the upper end of trade guesses, while soybeans and wheat exceeded the entire range of analyst estimates this past week.

The latest round of grain export data from USDA, covering the week through May 13, held mixed but mostly positive data for traders to digest. New crop corn sales came in very strong, as expected, and wheat also posted healthy totals this past week. Soybean sales were muted, but that was also largely expected, given how low domestic stocks are at this point.

China bought corn four days this week and Mexico took soybeans, the first soybean sale reported since April 26.


Grain prices have struggled in recent sessions, with corn, soybean and wheat contracts suffering moderate to heavy losses on Wednesday. Supply, demand and weather fundamentals are all factors, but were other outside factors also creating cascading losses? In particular, we took a closer look at Dogecoin and other cryptocurrencies, which have seen steep declines recently as investors have begun to lose faith in their moneymaking potential. That in turn influenced the Dow and S&P 500, which each fell around 1% today. Listen to Midweek Markets podcast for May 19, 2021


Total world grain and oilseed production is expected to rise this year, one reason why prices for fuel and fertilizer will likely remain stubbornly high for the foreseeable future.


Given cooperative weather and trendline yields, U.S. corn production is expected to easily top 15 billion bushels this season. Bull markets need to be fed bullish news – so some short-term volatility and downward pressure could be expected in the current environment.  Traders continue to worry about the probable record-breaking Brazilian crop and a U.S. soybean crop that is being planted much more quickly than recent years. Wheat prices faced more moderate cuts overnight and have had hard time finding much positive traction overall in recent weeks.

Wheat prices were mixed but mostly lower again Friday on expectations of im-proved crop yields and quality in the Plains, with fierce overseas competition still firmly in place. Soybean prices were unable to gather any positive forward momentum Friday. Prices closed at the lowest levels in three weeks. Corn prices tested modest gains late this morning but couldn’t stay in the green.

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