Big surprise means bullish USDA numbers March 8

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

Big surprise: USDA lowered Argentina soybean production 8 million tons to 33 million tons.

The word for of today is: unrelenting. Argentina’s current drought conditions are expected to continue for another two weeks with daily highs in the 90s and even into the 100s.

US highlights

U.S. corn exports were down 75 million bushels, U.S. soybean exports were up 25 million bushels, crush down 10 million bushels. U.S. corn ending stocks up 75 million bushels. U.S. soybean ending stocks down 15 million bushels.  

World highlights

Brazil soybean production 153 million tons, last month was 153 million tons. Brazil corn production 125 million tons, last month was 125 million tons. Argentina soybean production 33 million tons, last month was 41 million tons. Argentina corn production 40 million tons, last month was 47 million tons. USDA today projected China would be importing 96 million tons of soybeans during the current marketing year from September to August. Last month was 96 million tons. 

Following the noon report release, corn was up 1 cent, soybeans up 12 cents, and wheat down 5 cents. Prior to the report, corn was up 1 cent, soybeans up 9 cents, and wheat down 6 cents.

US 2022-2023 ending stocks: corn 1.342 billion bushels, last month 1.267 billion bushels; soybeans 210 million bushels, last month 225 million bushels; and wheat 568 million bushels, last month 568 million bushels. 

Trader estimates for 2022-2023 US ending stocks were corn 1.308 billion bushels; soybeans 220 million bushels; and wheat 573 million bushels. 

Look for USDA to lower both the Argentina corn and soybean production estimates compared to last month. However, do not expect USDA to lower those numbers to levels reported by private forecasts which in recent days have estimated soybean production anywhere from 27-32 million tons. 

The declining Argentina soybean production will necessitate soybean imports from Brazil and Paraguay. It has resulted in previous sales of soybeans and soymeal from Brazil and Argentina to be bought back. The ongoing drought in Argentina has already placed a severe crimp on their ability to continue as the world’s largest exporter of soymeal.  

China imported a record 16 million tons of soybeans in January and February. China’s crush margins have been on the decline in recent weeks.

U.S. corn exports were expected to be reduced 25 to 50 million bushels. Soybean exports may actually increase. Last month, corn used for ethanol was reduced 25 million bushels while the crush for soybeans declined 15 million bushels.

May 2023 CBOT corn the last 2 weeks has been in a $6.30 to $6.47 trading range. The last 2 weeks of February, May 2023 CBOT corn collapsed from a high on February 14 of $6.84 ¾ to a low of $6.30 on February 28. Previous support for corn at $6.48 was breached on Feb. 27.

During February, May 2023 CBOT soybeans had a high at $15.49 ¾, the high to date in March is $15.38 ½. To date in March, they have been above $15.30 for only a few hours which details strong price resistance. 

Producers have limited days to make changes for 2023 corn and soybean crop insurance coverage levels, the deadline is March 15. The corn price is $5.91 and the soybean price is $13.76. Note that the soybean beginning plant date for many Ohio counties have been pushed to an earlier date by 9-10 days. In addition, Ohio producers have the ability to push that beginning corn and soybean plant date backwards into March by 20 days, with the purchase of early replant coverage at an additional cost. Consult your crop insurance agent for further details.

Expect the Brazil soybean basis and selling values to decline as harvest continues with progress to date just above 50%. Brazil’s producers and grain facilities have a storage dilemma quickly approaching, here’s why: Total grain storage in Brazil is 187 million tons, yet corn and soybean production is near 275 million tons.

Ohio’s weather for the next two weeks has cooler temperatures in the forecast while corn and soybean planting potential in late March looks to be extremely limited.

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