Wheat tumbles on bumper Russian forecasts

scyther5/Thinkstock Markets-122316-scyther5-ThinkstockPhotos-2000
Morning report: Plus – on the ground reports from the Kansas Wheat Quality Council’s Wheat Tour! (Comments are updated by 7:30 a.m. Central Time.)

  • Corn down 2-6 cents
  • Soybeans down 1-4 cents; Soymeal up $2.00/ton; Soyoil down $0.58/lb
  • Chicago wheat down 17-19 cents; Kansas City wheat down 21-24 cents; Minneapolis wheat down 23-25 cents

*Prices as of 6:55am CDT.

New Feedback from the Field column! Corn and soybean plants are emerging almost as quickly as they were planted according to responses from growers in our latest Feedback from the Field column. Planting is progressing, but not as quickly as most growers would like.

Most notably, spring wheat producers across North Dakota are already weighing the possibility of prevent plant acreage as rain delays continue to mount. Little progress has been made and it could drastically alter USDA’s 2022 spring wheat production forecasts calculated from last week’s USDA all wheat and winter wheat projections.

Want to see how your farm’s progress stacks up against other growers across the country? Just click this link to take the survey and share updates about your farm’s spring progress. I review and upload results daily to the FFTF Google MyMap, so farmers can see others’ responses from across the country – or even across the county!

Corn

Corn prices fell $0.03-$0.07/bushel lower overnight as weather begins to clear in the Upper Midwest and meaningful planting progress can be made this week. Losses in the wheat complex also trickled over into its corn counterpart.

As a result of these dynamics, the July 2022 corn futures contract slipped below the $8/bushel benchmark overnight. The contract hit a one-week high when it closed at $8.095/bushel on Monday.

Soybeans

A lackluster April 2022 crush volume reported by NOPA on Monday and a round of profit-taking left soybean prices $0.01-$0.04/bushel lower overnight. Favorable planting progress also prevented the complex from seeing gains this morning.

Yesterday’s closing price on the July 2022 soybean futures contract of $16.78/bushel was the contract’s highest peak since Monday but still well below the $17.2325/bushel peak set last Friday.

About 1.38 billion acres of corn, soybeans and wheat are going to be harvested around the globe this year – 628,000 fewer acres harvested than last year. The loss comes after two consecutive years of acreage gains for these three crops, which totaled a staggering 63.5 million acres of new global crop expansion.

051822 global corn soybean and wheat acres.png

A contraction in global corn acres harvested will lead the smaller 2022/23 global acreage estimate. Nearly 8.9 million fewer corn acres will be harvested compared to last year, bringing the 2022/23 total just shy of 501 million acres. Ukraine’s wartime production losses and a smaller U.S. corn crop are the chief contributors here, though lucrative earnings for other crops, especially oilseeds, are also a factor in a shift away from these primary row crops.

High fertilizer prices will play a role in 3.5 million fewer acres of wheat harvested this year. About 546 million acres of wheat will be harvested globally in 2022/23, nearly erasing the acreage gains of 2021/22. Corn and wheat typically require more fertilizer applications than soybeans and amid high input costs and questionable availability, soybean acreage expected to be harvested this year will rise while corn and wheat acreage declines.

The acreage lost on corn and wheat will be nearly made up by expanding soybean acres this year. Global soy acres are slated to see a 11.7-million-acre increase this year to 333 million acres. Continued expansion in Brazil and Argentina will account for most of the acreage, but nearly 4 million more U.S. soybean acres will also help global soy acreage gain ground.

051822 global soybean acreage expansion.png

That will force some interesting supply dynamics into motion. For more on how tight global corn and wheat supplies will be impacted by this acreage shift – and what China’s 2022/23 import forecast has in store for soybean markets – check out my latest E-corn-omics column.

Wheat

Prospects for a massive Russian wheat crop eased global fears about tightening wheat supplies for the 2022/23 marketing year after India released wheat export restrictions late last week. India has since relaxed some of those restrictions, so the compounded effect of additional Russian export volumes took a bearish toll on the U.S. wheat complex this morning, even as dire crop conditions are evaluated on the Plains this week.

Russian ag forecaster IKAR released updated 2022/23 crop estimates for Russia overnight and the results were met with bearish price reactions.

Dmitry Rylko, the head of the IKAR agriculture consultancy, expects the 2022 Russian wheat crop will reach 3.12 billion bushels. Rylko considers the forecast to be a “conservative” estimate. USDA currently projects the 2022/23 Russian wheat crop at 2.94 billion bushels.

If IKAR’s forecast is realized, it would trail the 2020 (3.14B bu.) and 2017 (3.13B bu.) Russian crops that currently stand as the largest and second largest crops on record. That means the 2022 crop would be the third largest.

This would likely give Russian exportable wheat supplies a comfortable boost in volume, despite lingering economic sanctions that create additional challenges for Russian wheat exporters. That means that tightening supply pressure on the global wheat complex could be reduced in the coming weeks, especially as more global wheat buyers find loopholes around the sanctions to procure Russian wheat supplies.

Noted Black Sea consultancy SovEcon countered IKAR’s projections this morning at press time, issuing a 2022/23 Russian wheat forecast of 3.26 billion bushels, which would be a record high for Russian wheat production in the post-Soviet era.

"The chance of exceptional winter crop in Russia is rising as we pass one milestone after another,” said Andrey Sizov, head of SovEcon. “The emergence of plants after the winter and March-April weather was an important stage and plants look better after it. Looking at the weather forecast for the next weeks we don’t rule out the possibility of a further increase in the forecast.”

Kansas Wheat Tour

It’s mid-May, so that means it’s Wheat Tour time in Kansas! My colleague at Kansas Farmer, editor Jennifer Latzke, is currently on the Wheat Quality Council’s annual tour and has been texting me updates along the way! Here are a few of Latzke’s top insights from the first day of the tour:

Wheat experts in Kansas were prepared to see effects of drought on the first day of the annual wheat tour. But even they may have been surprised at the extent of the situation.

The Wheat Quality Council’s annual Hard Winter Wheat Tour participants got an early-morning start on Day 1, Tuesday (May 17), leaving Manhattan, Kan., and traveling west across the northern half of the state to evaluate the 2022 wheat crop.

The final daily average reported in Colby, after 248 stops, was 39.5 bushels per acre. That’s just about 20 bushels per acre less than the 2021 Day 1 estimate of 59.2 bushels per acre.

The word of the day — drought.

Latzke notes that growers in the Northern Kansas region have been planting spring crops into dry soils amid the wheat tour and points to thin stands and lower tillering as a result in newly emerged crops.

Jennifer Latzkedrought wheat field

DROUGHT STRESS: This wheat field on the border of Greeley County is showing signs of drought stress. Day 1 of the wheat tour had cars traveling Kansas’ northern routes, from Manhattan to Colby, and drought was the theme of the day.

“The theme of our wheat crop is short and thin in northwest Kansas,” Jeanne Falk-Jones, agronomist with the Sunflower Extension District, told Latzke.

Drought pressures are likely to take a toll on crops in Colorado and Nebraska this year too. Colorado’s winter wheat acreage was already lower coming into the 2022 season but Brad Erker, Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee executive director, estimates that 30% of acres in the state will be abandoned due to drought according to Latzke. Erker projected Colorado’s wheat yield for 2022 at 28.6 bushels per acre.

It could also lead to abandonment of other crops too, as dry soil moisture conditions in Southern Colorado could prevent alternative crops, like millet and corn, from being planted. Colorado growers typically rely heavily on irrigation to maintain crop conditions. And after two consecutive years of dry weather, it looks like farmers will be hard-pressed to manage drought stressed acres this year, especially for dry land crops.

Kent Lawrence, a director on the Nebraska Wheat Board, was only slightly more optimism with Nebraska’s wheat yield projections. Lawrence and the Nebraska Wheat Board forecasted a 41.0 bpa yield for the Husker State this year.

Latzke notes that if there is one silver lining of this drought, it has been that disease occurrence has been relatively low this year. Today’s portion of the tour is likley to see further drought pressure as it travels to south from Colby, and then crosses the state to the east to end in Wichita.

Be sure to follow along with the wheat tour on the Kansas Farmer Twitter account for Latzke’s updates. I’m currently following Kansas Farmer Twitter account Latzke's Twitter account for the latest insights! And follow #wheattour22 for updates from various routes throughout the day.

Inputs

We didn’t talk about Bruno fertilizer impacts very much in last week’s WASDE reports. But concerns about high prices and availability could disrupt planting progress and yield outcomes in South America later this year.

Even though it wasn’t a key headline, fertilizer concerns were very much at the forefront of USDA’s global crop production forecasts, as indicated in USDA attaché reports released in the month prior to last Thursday’s WASDE release, specifically for Brazil, Argentina, and Ukraine.

To be clear, we will not see any evidence of yield losses due to reductions in fertilizer applications until later in the growing season. And – at least in the U.S. – those worries are probably not warranted for the 2022/23 crop year because growers largely had adequate access to desired fertilizer supplies for the Spring 2022 planting season across most of the Northern Hemisphere.

The corn and wheat acreage expansion I noted above in 2022/23 could help alleviate pressure on high fertilizer prices this year. Fertilizer producers are ramping up production to meet demand and altered trade flows amid the Black Sea conflict. As the world settles into a wartime equilibrium, the biggest question on my mind is – could we see some fertilizer price relief after all?

According to Reuters, U.N. chief Antonio Guterres is going to announce today that the organization is mediating negotiations between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, the U.S., and the European Union to restore Russian and Belarusian fertilizer shipments as well as Ukrainian grain exports.

If the talks are successful – I’m more optimistic about progress for the fertilizer than the Ukrainian grain – then we could see some meaningfully lower price action in the fertilizer market in the coming days.

Weather

It’s going to heat back up again today in the Heartland, according to NOAA’s short-range forecasts. Rains are clearing out of the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains today, allowing for some meaningful planting progress to be made in those regions.

The Eastern Corn Belt could face planting delays today as up to a half inch of precipitation is expected to accumulate over the region in the next 24 hours.

Skies will clear briefly over the Heartland tomorrow morning, but more showers are on the way for the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest by tomorrow night.

NOAA’s 6- to 10-day and 8- to 14-day forecasts updated yesterday are trending wetter for the Eastern Corn Belt, so rapid planting paces will be critical over the next week.

Financials

Stock prices surged higher this morning with the S&P 500 posting a massive 2.02% gain to $4,088.85, likely building on yesterday’s gains amid a rallying dollar, gains in the energy complex, and a recovery to tech stocks.

Take advantage of today’s volatility – the Federal Reserve is waxing even more hawkish on inflation, China is suffering from the economic fallout of lockdown, and retail earnings are being undercut by higher prices.

The tea leaves were hard to read this morning because the gains can’t quite be explained by the other turbulent pressures facing the economy right now. I hope you have better luck with it than I have today!

Still digesting last week’s WASDE reports?

Me too! Our team did a lot of insightful work on last week’s WASDE reports – and there was a lot of information to digest! China, fertilizer, tight global corn and wheat stocks, and pending 2022 U.S. production implications were top of mind for me. Here are our team’s best insights on these issues!

  • For the top highlights, check out Ben Potter’s and my podcast recapping the report.
  • For my analysis on 2022 U.S. production estimates, check out this article.
  • Fertilizer prices may also impact 2022/23 global corn and wheat production. Here is what to expect.
  • Global corn and wheat acres are expected to contract this year due to high input costs and the conflict in the Black Sea. Soybean acreage is expected to rise, but total acreage for the three crops will shrink for the first time since 2019. Is the global acreage expansion over?

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

  • Senior editor Ben Potter examines ways to offset higher fertilizer prices at the farm level.
  • Bryce Knorr points out that it will take significant crop damage to keep feeding corn bulls, so impending weather forecasts may create more market volatility.
  • Darren Frye offers valuable tips on prioritizing time and finances during spring planting season.
  • Roger Wright concludes a four-part series on buying put options, pointing out that buyers will never have to add money to margin positions by using this strategy.
Morning Ag Commodity Prices - 5/18/2022
Contract Units High Low Last Net Change % Change
JUL '22 CORN $ / BSH  8.0225 7.9625 7.99 -0.0175 -0.22%
SEP '22 CORN $ / BSH  7.7275 7.66 7.6925 -0.035 -0.45%
DEC '22 CORN $ / BSH  7.605 7.53 7.565 -0.0425 -0.56%
MAR '23 CORN $ / BSH  7.635 7.5625 7.5975 -0.0425 -0.56%
MAY '23 CORN $ / BSH  7.625 7.5575 7.585 -0.0525 -0.69%
JUL '23 CORN $ / BSH  7.53 7.495 7.5025 -0.065 -0.86%
SEP '23 CORN $ / BSH  6.855 6.8075 6.83 -0.03 -0.44%
JUL '22 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  16.8675 16.7225 16.795 0.015 0.09%
AUG '22 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  16.3025 16.18 16.2325 -0.01 -0.06%
SEP '22 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  15.66 15.54 15.595 -0.0225 -0.14%
NOV '22 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  15.28 15.15 15.225 -0.03 -0.20%
JAN '23 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  15.2925 15.175 15.245 -0.03 -0.20%
MAR '23 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  15.1475 15.035 15.0975 -0.0325 -0.21%
MAY '23 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  15.11 15.025 15.09 -0.0075 -0.05%
JUL '23 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  15.0775 14.9975 15.045 -0.025 -0.17%
AUG '23 SOYBEANS $ / BSH  10.75 #N/A 14.8825 0 0.00%
JUL '22 SOYBEAN OIL  $ / LB 83.72 82.7 82.87 -0.62 -0.74%
AUG '22 SOYBEAN OIL  $ / LB 80.5 79.68 79.82 -0.51 -0.63%
JUL '22 SOY MEAL $ / TON 414.7 409.6 412.6 0.8 0.19%
AUG '22 SOY MEAL $ / TON 410.8 406 408.3 -0.2 -0.05%
SEP '22 SOY MEAL $ / TON 406 401 403.2 -1.2 -0.30%
OCT '22 SOY MEAL $ / TON 401.1 396.4 398.7 -1.5 -0.37%
DEC '22 SOY MEAL $ / TON 402.4 398 400.3 -1.5 -0.37%
JUL '22 Chicago SRW $ / BSH  12.8 12.34 12.4575 -0.3175 -2.49%
SEP '22 Chicago SRW $ / BSH  12.805 12.3725 12.4825 -0.305 -2.39%
DEC '22 Chicago SRW $ / BSH  12.7925 12.3775 12.48 -0.31 -2.42%
MAR '23 Chicago SRW $ / BSH  12.705 12.33 12.4025 -0.315 -2.48%
MAY '23 Chicago SRW $ / BSH  12.39 12.0675 12.1175 -0.2925 -2.36%
JUL '22 Kansas City HRW $ / BSH  13.68 13.25 13.305 -0.3725 -2.72%
SEP '22 Kansas City HRW $ / BSH  13.69 13.2775 13.315 -0.3775 -2.76%
DEC '22 Kansas City HRW $ / BSH  13.665 13.2825 13.335 -0.365 -2.66%
MAR '23 Kansas City HRW $ / BSH  13.5675 13.26 13.26 -0.3475 -2.55%
MAY '23 Kansas City HRW $ / BSH  13.1475 13.1475 13.1475 -0.095 -0.72%
JUL '22 MLPS Spring Wheat $ / BSH  13.9475 13.5875 13.62 -0.315 -2.26%
SEP '22 MLPS Spring Wheat $ / BSH  13.91 13.555 13.58 -0.315 -2.27%
DEC '22 MLPS Spring Wheat $ / BSH  13.835 13.505 13.5275 -0.315 -2.28%
MAR '23 MLPS Spring Wheat $ / BSH  13.55 13.45 13.45 -0.3375 -2.45%
MAY '23 MLPS Spring Wheat $ / BSH  0 #N/A 13.5875 0 0.00%
JUN '21 ICE Dollar Index $ 103.795 103.235 103.64 0.233 0.23%
 JU '21 Light Crude $ / BBL  114.7 112.81 114.61 2.21 1.97%
 JU '21 Light Crude $ / BBL  111.81 110.02 111.7 2.07 1.89%
JUN '22 ULS Diesel $ /U GAL 3.841 3.7714 3.8338 0.0345 0.91%
JUL '22 ULS Diesel $ /U GAL 3.7326 3.6673 3.7255 0.0327 0.89%
JUN '22 Gasoline $ /U GAL 3.9826 3.9249 3.9473 0.0056 0.14%
JUL '22 Gasoline $ /U GAL 3.8176 3.7658 3.7926 0.0163 0.43%
MAY '22 Feeder Cattle $ / CWT 0 #N/A 157.175 0 0.00%
AUG '22 Feeder Cattle $ / CWT 0 #N/A 166.775 0 0.00%
 JU '21 Live Cattle $ / CWT 0 #N/A 133 0 0.00%
 AU '21 Live Cattle $ / CWT 0 #N/A 133.475 0 0.00%
JUN '22 Live Hogs $ / CWT 0 #N/A 105.15 0 0.00%
JUL '22 Live Hogs $ / CWT 0 #N/A 107.75 0 0.00%
MAY '22 Class III Milk $ / CWT 25 25 25 -0.02 -0.08%
JUN '22 Class III Milk $ / CWT 24.65 24.63 24.63 0.04 0.16%
JUL '22 Class III Milk $ / CWT 24.57 24.45 24.57 0.13 0.53%

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