Corn exports

By Jon Scheve, Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC

Rumors of corn exports to China had the market on edge last week with futures finishing almost 18 cents off the lows from a few days earlier. With the March contract, which is in the delivery process, trading higher than the May contract, along with basis increases throughout the U.S., some are expecting export announcements in the next few weeks.

The U.S. is about the only exporter of corn right now and we are competitively priced with the rest of the world, so export numbers should increase. Brazil export facilities have switched over almost completely to beans, as their new crop is being harvested right now. Argentina’s corn crop will likely be 20% to 30% lower than normal due to the worst drought in over a half century. And, Ukraine continues to have logistical issues due to the war.  

So, even though the corn export pace is currently behind USDA estimates, there are still some variables that would make it possible to hit their projections. Five years ago, we were similarly behind at this point in the year, but after several months export pace caught up to the estimates previously set by the USDA that year.

Wheat production decreases

This week the United Nations released an estimate showing the global wheat output could be 1% lower than last year. This is the first time in 5 years that worldwide wheat production is estimated to be down year over year. The continued fighting in Ukraine is contributing to the decrease along with several major wheat producing areas that are expected to have some production issues after several years of record yields. With wheat always a potential feed substitute to corn, this could be supportive of prices longer term.

Looking forward

By the end of March, most farmers will go into a “selling hibernation” for nearly 90 days as they focus on planting, spraying, and observing early summer weather. Many farmers have already sold a lot of their old crop stocks, so this recent futures price drop probably does not incentivize farmers to sell any time soon.

The futures spread over the past couple of months incentivized commercial elevators to have sold all the grain they own by now. Thus, if export pace does improve in the next month, buyers throughout the U.S. may be scrambling to find grain. With elevators out of stocks and farmers busy in the fields, the remaining grain could be in very tight hands. This could mean a potential basis increase and/or futures rally over the next few months. 

Please email with any questions or to learn more. Jon grew up raising corn and soybeans on a farm near Beatrice, NE. Upon graduation from The University of Nebraska in Lincoln, he became a grain merchandiser and has been trading corn, soybeans and other grains for the last 18 years, building relationships with end-users in the process. After successfully marketing his father’s grain and getting his MBA, 10 years ago he started helping farmer clients market their grain based upon his principals of farmer education, reducing risk, understanding storage potential and using basis strategy to maximize individual farm operation profits. A big believer in farmer education of futures trading, Jon writes a weekly commentary to farmers interested in learning more and growing their farm operations.

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One comment

  1. The United Nations estimated worldwide wheat production this week, and it might be 1% lower than in 2017. The global wheat harvest is predicted to fall for the first time in five years.

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