Demand for U.S. crops remains strong this spring, at a time when foreign buyers usually have plenty of options to pick from. This year they don’t, due to drought in South America and stressful conditions from Europe to Ukraine, which is helping support U.S. exports.
Soybeans led the pack again this this week, with total old and new crop bookings hitting 51.8 million bushels, as reported by USDA. Two-thirds of that was for 2011 crop soybeans, thanks to estimates of Argentine production that continue to shrink, helping push nearby futures to their best level since September 2008. China was the dominant buyer, taking 22.2 million bushels of old crop and shipping out 6.8 million, while purchasing another 13.4 million bushels of new crop production.
USDA reports corn sales were up sharply from last week’s disappointing totals, though they came in toward the low end of trade guesses. Japan accounted for 55% of the old crop total of 25.4 million bushels, while the leading new crop buyer was attributed to “unknown destinations.” That may have been China, which officially took 1.5 million bushels of old crop and shipped out 2.6 million in the week ending April 19.
Since then, of course, USDA has announced big new sales of 45.7 million bushels, both old and new crop, under its daily reporting system for large purchases. While less than a quarter of those deals were officially pegged to China, most if not all of the business was linked there by traders.
Wheat sales also topped expectations, with the 27.3 million bushels for the week split between old and new crop. Most buyers continue to take just one or two small loads, but China again showed on the list, taking 2.1 million bushels of new crop.
Wheat shipments of 22.7 million bushels were led by recent deals with Egypt, but the total was a little less than the weekly rate projected through the end of May by USDA.