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Corn, wheat edge up ahead of WASDE

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Morning report: Plus – what to expect in today’s USDA reports. (Comments are updated by 7:30 a.m. Central Time.)

*Prices as of 6:50 am CST.

Happy WASDE Day! Good morning! USDA releases its December 2022 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report today at 11 am CST. As always, our team will be providing live coverage and analysis of today’s reports. Check out our website, FarmFutures.com, or follow us on our social platforms (@FarmFutures) for the latest insights.

USDA will not be updating any acreage or yield estimates for 2022 corn and soybean crops, so the lack of supply-side revisions could make today’s report one of the quieter WASDE releases throughout the year.

But there are still plenty of demand-side revisions that could shake up ag commodity markets. Here is our team’s best guesses as to what the markets will be expecting ahead of today’s report.

Domestic stocks

Dec 22 WASDE preview US ending stocks

Corn

Bearish sentiments are afoot for domestic corn stocks if trade estimates are to be believed. The average trade guess of 1.237 billion bushels in 2022/23 corn ending stocks would add 55 million bushels of corn back to ending stocks, which means usage cuts are likely in order today.

Where will these cuts come from for corn? It’s no secret that export paces have been abysmal for corn this fall. Tuesday’s U.S. Census Bureau data release of October 2022 ag export volumes saw corn shipments for the month fall 46% below year ago volumes due to issues on the Mississippi.

The shrinking livestock herd also represents a potential opportunity for USDA to cut corn usage rates today. November 1 cattle on feed inventories are 2% lower than a year ago and placement volumes fell over 6% from a year ago in October 2022 as a tightened breeding herd slows expansion paces.

Average daily ethanol production through the week ending December 2 neared a one-year high on the heels of a busy Thanksgiving holiday season. On average, weekly corn consumption volumes for ethanol have mostly held steady to firmed slightly, leading me to believe that if USDA makes cuts to 2022/23 corn usage, it is more likely to come from the export and livestock feed/residual categories than ethanol.

Soybeans

Bearish pressures could also be in store for soybeans in today’s report, based on trade guesses. The average 2022/23 ending stocks estimate of 238 million bushels represents an 18-million-bushel increase in soybean ending stocks, which translates into downward usage revisions expected from USDA today.

The October 2022 soy crush topped 196.6 million bushels, making it the third largest monthly crush volume on record even though it was just a hair smaller than the October 2021 crush. Export revenues in October 2022 set new nominal price records, but marketing-year-to-date volumes still lag 6% behind year ago shipping paces.

I want to be skeptical of these demand cuts the trade is expecting for soybeans. We’ve seen some positive export news for U.S. soybeans this week that has fueled futures rallies. But the cash side tells a different story – basis remains weak at river terminals in the Midwest.

Processors continue to offer premiums for cash soybean sales, but weakness has crept into the market this week as many crush facilities have enough supplies on hand to meet production schedules. Plus, egg sets for poultry production are 0.2% lower than the same time last year over the past eight weeks – which is peak chicken prep season for all of those New Year’s diets from which we are all just a few weeks away.

Wheat

An increase in domestic stocks for wheat is also expected, though based on the average trade guess, only about 5 million bushels of wheat will be added back to 2022/23 stocks via smaller usage rates. And it’s not a secret where USDA is going to make that upward revision – exports.

Peak wheat export season for the U.S. ended in September and volumes have fallen significantly since then. U.S. supplies continue to under compete against Russian and European supplies on the global market, especially as the dollar remains strong against other currencies.

Marketing-year-to-date U.S. wheat shipping volumes are 1% lower than the same time a year ago and as first quarter (July through August) wheat milling volumes soared to the largest volume (237M bu.) since USDA began tracking milling for food consumption in 2014.

South American corn and soybean production

Dec 22 WASDE preview South American production

With no new U.S. supply data expected in today’s report, all eyes will be on South American corn and soybean production, where peak planting season is quickly coming to a close. The trade is bracing for cuts to Argentina’s crops but potential increases for Brazil’s.

This is not surprising – USDA already cut Argentine soybean production last month as last year’s drought continues to plague the Pampas grains region. The dry weather has already taken a bite out of Argentina’s wheat crop, and we have already seen early signs of heat stress in the young soybean and corn crops in recent weeks as farmers continue to delay planting due to the drought.

Weather patterns have been more favorable in Brazil, which justifies the trade’s optimism for larger Brazilian corn and soybean crops. Planting is virtually finished for first crop corn and soybeans and spotty showers have helped offset warming temperatures.

But there is potential for drought worries as the summer sun heats up – and that prospect could prevent USDA from making any major revisions to Brazilian production in today’s report. More specifically, a USDA attaché report published early last week projects the 2022/23 Brazilian corn crop at 4.961 billion bushels, so it seems unlikely that corn production will be updated today.

Brazil’s food and statistics agency, Conab, released updated projections for 2022/23 soybean output this morning ahead of today’s WASDE reports. Conab’s soybean forecasts are now projected at 5.639 billion bushels, which is a 2.2-million-bushel reduction from its previous estimates.

USDA’s current forecast for 2022/23 Brazilian soybean production is currently at 5.584 billion bushels, though based on current weather prospects, it could revise that figure in today’s reports.

Conab also issued new corn production targets, projecting Brazil’s 2022/23 corn crop at 4.954 billion bushels, down 22 million bushels from its past forecast. USDA currently projects Brazil’s crop at 4.961 billion bushels – very similar to the latest Conab figures.

International stocks

Dec 22 WASDE preview world ending stocks

The market is expecting global ending stocks volumes to remain little changed in today’s WASDE report. Corn and soybean stocks are expected to increase slightly, which doesn’t offer much hope for a potential rally today.

But the biggest hope for bullish price action today is likely to be in the wheat complex. Trade flows out of Russia and Ukraine will be significant factors to watch in the global wheat figures today. Further cuts to Argentina’s crop are also likely. If the average trade guess materializes, 2022/23 wheat stocks are expected to shrink by 15 million bushels. That’s not a lot, but it should help keep a floor under wheat prices until the next batch of market-moving news.

Corn

Holiday trading continues to keep overnight price gains at a minimum, though this morning’s USDA reports should help trigger some healthy trading volumes. Corn prices traded $0.02-$0.04/bushel higher overnight, consolidating gains after prices notched a three-month low earlier this week.

Soybeans

China has recorded three large daily flash soybean export sales from the U.S. this week, which continues to prop up futures gains for Chicago soybean futures contracts. Overnight, soybean futures prices rose $0.01-$0.02/bushel on the optimism, reaching a three-month high.

Gains were limited by a rough night for China’s live hog futures contracts, which are down 9% on the week as easing retail demand and high slaughter rates keep Chinese pork supplies plentiful in the short term. Pork demand has been slow to increase following earlier this week, when China lifted its stringent COVID-19 policies.

But Chinese consumers are wary to return back to pre-pandemic lifestyles following the government’s latest policy shift. Warm temperatures were blamed earlier on slugging Chinese pork demand, but now the prominent issue seems to be that many consumers are priced out of the market as pork prices remain unusually high.

“Prices were too high," Darin Friedrichs, co-founder of Shanghai-based Sitonia Consulting, told Reuters. "Even a few weeks ago there were people saying there wasn't the usual demand for sausages and curing. That was mostly blamed on temperatures being unusually warm. But now temperatures have fallen a lot, and the demand hasn't picked up."

Argentina’s drought also factored into the morning’s gains, though scattered showers forecast over the next week could bring some relief to the region’s crops – but also bearish price pressure to U.S. soybean futures.

Wheat

U.S. wheat futures inched $0.01-$0.04/bushel higher during the overnight trading session as the market braces for tightening global supplies in today’s USDA reports. Some bargain buying was likely also at play after wheat futures fell to a one-year low earlier this week amid strengthening shipping paces out of Russia.

Weather

A wintry precipitation mix will linger over the Great Lakes region today, according to NOAA’s short-term forecasts. Meanwhile, storms will move into the Southern Plains by this evening, bringing up to an inch of rain to drought-stressed parts of Oklahoma and Kansas.

NOAA’s 6-10-day forecasts are trending cooler than usual for the portion of the continental U.S. west of the Rocky Mountains through early next week. During that time, the Plains and Midwest will likely see warmer than average temperatures. Luckily, the precipitation forecasts are calling for above average chances for precipitation across virtually all of the major growing regions in the U.S. – except the Pacific Northwest – with the highest chances centered over the Great Lakes region.

The temperature trends in the 8-10-day outlook will cool across the country by later next week, while the Northern Crescent region is likely to see warmer than average temperatures. Chances for moisture are likely to remain slightly above to near normal for most of the Plains during that time while the Eastern Corn Belt could see below average chances for precipitation.

Drought conditions are lessening thanks to the latest round of winter weather, but dry soils should still remain top of mind for growers across the country. Drought monitor data released yesterday found that 78.53% of the U.S. is in some sort of abnormally dry to exceptional drought condition.

120922 drought monitor

That figure is down 1.22% from the previous week thanks to cross-country winter precipitation systems and will likely continue to trend lower based on this week’s showers and snow flurries. Drought conditions in the Plains held steady for a second consecutive week at 91.75% while Midwest ratings eased 1.32% on the week to 72.37%.

Financials

S&P 500 futures rose 0.52% this morning to $3,986.25, likely on a round of bargain buying after the index recorded five consecutive days of losses. Athletic apparel maker Lululemon releases Q3 2022 earnings results today, which should be of interest to all of my fellow athleisure-loving friends.

Oh I’m the only one still rocking yoga leggings post-pandemic? Yeah, that tracks…

What else I’m reading this morning on our website, FarmFutures.com:

  • Howard Buffet will be among several keynote speakers at the 2023 Farm Futures Business Summit. Check out our packed agenda to see who will be joining Buffet in Iowa City!
  • Naomi Blohm encourages farmers to get ready for the New Year corn rally.
  • My latest E-corn-omics column reviews recent U.S. Census Bureau data results for exports – and the bullish results for soybean producers.
  • Purdue University’s Ag Barometer finds that input costs and interest rates are at the top of farmers’ lists of concerns.
  • Bryce Knorr advises farmers to employ smart tax management strategies by locking in fuel expenses for next year.
Morning Ag Commodity Prices - 12/9/2022
Contract Units High Low Last Net Change % Change
DEC '22 CORN $ / BSH  6.33 6.315 6.33 0.01 0.16%
MAR '23 CORN $ / BSH  6.4675 6.42 6.4625 0.0375 0.58%
MAY '23 CORN $ / BSH  6.48 6.44 6.4775 0.035 0.54%
JUL '23 CORN $ / BSH  6.44 6.4025 6.4375 0.03 0.47%
SEP '23 CORN $ / BSH  6.0875 6.06 6.0875 0.02 0.33%
DEC '23 CORN $ / BSH  5.965 5.9425 5.9625 0.0175 0.29%
AR2 '24 CORN $ / BSH  6.0425 6.025 6.0425 0.02 0.33%
AY2 '24 CORN $ / BSH  6.0675 #N/A 6.055 0 0.00%
JUL '24 CORN $ / BSH  6.0625 6.0625 6.0625 0.0175 0.29%
JAN '23 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  14.9275 14.8375 14.865 0.0025 0.02%
MAR '23 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  14.9725 14.88 14.915 0.0125 0.08%
MAY '23 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  15.025 14.9325 14.9675 0.01 0.07%
JUL '23 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  15.0525 14.96 14.995 0.0075 0.05%
AUG '23 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  14.81 14.75 14.775 0.0075 0.05%
SEP '23 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  14.2825 14.2325 14.2375 -0.025 -0.18%
NOV '23 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  13.995 13.9375 13.95 -0.0275 -0.20%
AN2 '24 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  14.0175 13.9625 13.975 -0.0225 -0.16%
AR2 '24 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  13.9425 #N/A 13.93 0 0.00%
AY2 '24 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  13.925 13.925 13.925 0.0175 0.13%
UL2 '24 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  13.9275 #N/A 13.93 0 0.00%
DEC '22 SOYBEAN OIL  $ / LB 63.6 63.56 63.56 0.06 0.09%
JAN '23 SOYBEAN OIL  $ / LB 62 61.03 61.18 -0.13 -0.21%
DEC '22 SOY MEAL $ / TON 470 #N/A 469.3 0 0.00%
JAN '23 SOY MEAL $ / TON 470 464.7 468.7 2.3 0.49%
MAR '23 SOY MEAL $ / TON 465.6 460 464.3 1.9 0.41%
MAY '23 SOY MEAL $ / TON 460.2 455.4 459.3 1.7 0.37%
JUL '23 SOY MEAL $ / TON 456.8 452.4 455.5 0.6 0.13%
DEC '22 Chicago SRW $ / BSH  0 #N/A 7.2425 0 0.00%
MAR '23 Chicago SRW $ / BSH  7.525 7.4625 7.505 0.0425 0.57%
MAY '23 Chicago SRW $ / BSH  7.6175 7.5625 7.605 0.0425 0.56%
JUL '23 Chicago SRW $ / BSH  7.655 7.6075 7.6475 0.0475 0.63%
SEP '23 Chicago SRW $ / BSH  7.7175 7.6775 7.7075 0.0425 0.55%
DEC '23 Chicago SRW $ / BSH  7.8125 7.7825 7.81 0.04 0.51%
AR2 '24 Chicago SRW $ / BSH  7.84 7.84 7.84 0.0225 0.29%
DEC '22 Kansas City HRW $ / BSH  0 #N/A 8.605 0 0.00%
MAR '23 Kansas City HRW $ / BSH  8.5075 8.4375 8.485 0.0375 0.44%
MAY '23 Kansas City HRW $ / BSH  8.4525 8.395 8.4125 0.015 0.18%
JUL '23 Kansas City HRW $ / BSH  8.3975 8.345 8.3975 0.0525 0.63%
SEP '23 Kansas City HRW $ / BSH  8.4175 8.3775 8.4175 0.05 0.60%
DEC '23 Kansas City HRW $ / BSH  8.4175 8.41 8.41 0 0.00%
AR2 '24 Kansas City HRW $ / BSH  8.3725 8.3725 8.3725 -0.005 -0.06%
DEC '22 MLPS Spring Wheat $ / BSH  0 #N/A 9.2775 0 0.00%
MAR '23 MLPS Spring Wheat $ / BSH  9.12 9.0575 9.105 0.01 0.11%
MAY '23 MLPS Spring Wheat $ / BSH  9.11 9.0675 9.0825 0.005 0.06%
JUL '23 MLPS Spring Wheat $ / BSH  9.1 9.0475 9.1 0.03 0.33%
SEP '23 MLPS Spring Wheat $ / BSH  8.9825 8.9225 8.9425 -0.0075 -0.08%
DEC '23 MLPS Spring Wheat $ / BSH  8.925 8.925 8.925 -0.0375 -0.42%
AR2 '24 MLPS Spring Wheat $ / BSH  0 #N/A 8.925 0 0.00%
DEC '21 ICE Dollar Index $ 104.83 104.445 104.62 -0.136 -0.13%
 JA '21 Light Crude $ / BBL  72.56 71.32 71.98 0.52 0.73%
 FE '21 Light Crude $ / BBL  72.64 71.45 72.13 0.55 0.77%
JAN '23 ULS Diesel $ /U GAL 2.889 2.8536 2.8803 0.0005 0.02%
FEB '23 ULS Diesel $ /U GAL 2.8516 2.8192 2.8456 0.0006 0.02%
JAN '23 Gasoline $ /U GAL 2.0726 2.0374 2.0584 0.0093 0.45%
FEB '23 Gasoline $ /U GAL 2.0837 2.0496 2.0702 0.009 0.44%
JAN '23 Feeder Cattle $ / CWT 0 #N/A 183.475 0 0.00%
MAR '23 Feeder Cattle $ / CWT 0 #N/A 185.05 0 0.00%
 DE '21 Live Cattle $ / CWT 0 #N/A 152.425 0 0.00%
 FE '21 Live Cattle $ / CWT 0 #N/A 153.925 0 0.00%
DEC '22 Live Hogs $ / CWT 0 #N/A 82 0 0.00%
FEB '23 Live Hogs $ / CWT 0 #N/A 84.7 0 0.00%
DEC '22 Class III Milk $ / CWT 20.39 #N/A 20.38 0 0.00%
JAN '23 Class III Milk $ / CWT 19.48 19.23 19.48 0.25 1.30%
FEB '23 Class III Milk $ / CWT 19.19 #N/A 19.18 0 0.00%

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