Demand and weather

By Jon Scheve, Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC 

Corn

Usually, the July USDA report does not have yield adjustments, but this year there was a change to the estimated corn yield due to excessive dry weather in June.

Export demand

While weather is always a big factor, long-term demand may also become an issue. The USDA continues to estimate a 27% increase in export demand for next year. However, considering Brazil’s record crop being harvested, and likely an even bigger crop next spring, it is unclear where the added demand will come from. Perhaps the USDA is building a reserve in the demand area in case yields drop further throughout summer. 

Feed demand

Old crop feed demand was changed to match the stocks report from two weeks ago. Moving forward it will need to increase to warrant higher prices, which means more animals will need to be on feed, and that seems unlikely. With additional sorghum acres this fall there continues to be more questions than answers for how feed demand can be increased without a drop in prices.

Projecting where futures can go

Even if the average national yield decreases, corn’s upside potential may still be limited due to demand. The following chart estimates prices based upon this, and that the percentage of harvested acres is like the last five years, which means one million fewer acres harvested due to dry weather.

Based on these projections, demand does not really become an issue until yields are in the low 160s. History would suggest that a percentage drop that large has a low probability of happening. Regardless, the weather will impact prices most, and the biggest question is how much it will rain over the next 2-3 weeks.

Beans

Unlike corn, the USDA did not make any yield adjustments for beans. August weather will impact bean yields the most, so any estimate before then is just a guess.

Demand for beans may be a concern though. Brazil beans heavily compete against U.S. beans for export to China. Historically the USDA tends to underestimate export demand early in the marketing year, so there may be upside potential. The chart below shows the projected prices for different yield and demand scenarios and assumes the percentage of harvested acres at the average from the last five years.

While August weather will be the biggest factor for bean prices, Brazil has a lot of beans on hand now and their next crop is expected to be even bigger than this last one, which could put downward pressure on prices. Still, the chart shows even a small drop in the average bean yield can tighten the carryout significantly for next year and it could lead to higher prices.

Bottomline

For both corn and beans weather is still the biggest driver of price direction, but demand will soon become a big factor too. Both are creating a lot of uncertainty in the market around upside price potential.

Please email jon@superiorfeed.com with any questions or to learn more. Jon grew up raising corn and soybeans on a farm near Beatrice, Neb. 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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