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Grain markets yawn at latest WASDE data

Corn, soybean production estimates left alone from the agency’s November report.

Some months, USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report sends shockwaves through the grain markets, significantly impacting prices. This month was not one of them, as the agency opted to leave corn and soybean production data unchanged from its November estimates. That kept grain prices mostly trading sideways, although wheat moved moderately higher immediately following the report’s release late this morning.

USDA’s latest projection for this year’s U.S. corn production is now at 13.661 billion bushels, based on average yields of 167.0 bushels per acre across 81.8 million harvested acres. Those figures were unchanged from November, with many analysts expecting potentially substantial revisions next month instead, according to Farm Futures grain market analyst Jacquie Holland.

“The markets already had these figures factored into prices ahead of the release of today’s WASDE report,” she says. “January’s report may cause more price shifts after USDA has a chance to finalize production figures.”

Domestic carryout was also unaltered, at 1.910 billion bushels. Analysts expected that number to move slightly higher, with an average trade guess of 1.919 billion bushels.

With that, USDA’s projection for season-average farm prices is also unchanged, at $3.85 per bushel.

Global stocks did tick higher, from 295.96 million metric tons in November up to 300.56 MMT. Analayst were expecting that number to dip fractionally, to 295.52 MMT.

As with corn, USDA left its soybean production data alone, calling for a 2019 harvest of 3.550 billion bushels, based on average yields of 46.9 bpa across 75.9 million harvested acres. Ending domestic stocks were also unaffected, at 475 million bushels.

The agency did offer a downward revision to the average farm price for 2019/20, moving that number 15 cents lower to $8.85 per bushel.

Global soybean stocks crept up from 95.4 MMT to 96.4 MMT. The average trade guess assumed no changes to global stocks, meantime. Most of the gains were claimed by China, with the National Bureau of Statistics reporting higher acreage and yields there earlier this month.

USDA’s supply and demand data for wheat showed the most alterations from its November WASDE report after factoring in lower domestic supplies, higher exports and lower ending stocks. USDA added 25 million bushels to its wheat export estimates, bringing the total up to 975 million bushels this marketing year based on the decent pace of exports over the past month.

And with domestic wheat stocks falling from 1.014 billion in November down to 974 million bushels, that marks the lowest level in five years.

Even so, USDA trimmed another nickel from its season-average farm price projections, now at $4.55 per bushel “based on NASS prices to date and expectations of cash and futures prices for the remainder of the market year.”

World wheat stocks added another 1.2 MMT to reach 289.5 MMT, according to USDA. Analysts expected that number to drop to 285.8 MMT, in contrast.

USDA also updates its estimates of South American production, but as with U.S. production, these numbers held steady. For corn, that leaves Argentina’s production at 1.968 billion bushels and Brazil’s at 3.976 billion bushels. For soybeans, that leaves Argentina’s production at 1.947 billion bushels and Brazil’s at 4.519 billion bushels.


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