Category: Corn

12 Jun 2020

Ag Markets Update: June 6 – 12


The 2020 June USDA Crop Report came out Thursday and contained little surprise for the corn market. The report did trim off some ending stocks from 19/20 as they adjusted for the corn that was lost in ND that was never harvested until this spring due to weather problems. Corn seems to have little news to drive it significantly higher in the near term as there is favorable weather in most areas that have corn already growing. We should keep our eye on the lack of rain in the 7-14 day window as an early lack of rain could effect pollination in areas. The USDA put 20/21 corn price at $3.20, the same as last month, and $3.60 for 19/20. The stocks numbers can be found on the chart at the bottom but, like we said, little surprise. Funds continue to hold large short positions.

 


Soybean prices stayed steady this week after gains over the past couple of weeks. Continued confirmed Chinese buying along with sales to “unknown buyers”, more than likely China, have given beans the support they need. The buying has slowed down some but as long as decent purchases keep coming from China that will support soybeans. Like corn, the USDA report was pretty much a non-event for beans despite some bullish news. The ending world stocks for both 19/20 and 20/21 were both lowered enough to see some slight gains in bean prices before coming back down to finish trading Thursday about unchanged. The rally over the past couple weeks helped keep the bullish news from moving the markets much as most of the news seemed to be factored into the price already.

 


Wheat has had a hard week, losing over 20 cents in the July contract. The USDA report was definitely bearish for wheat as the outlook for the southern hemisphere 20/21 growing season was bigger. USDA is forecasting a 11 mmt gain in Australia wheat crop and 1.5 mmt gain for Argentina. There are some trade concerns that the Russian wheat crop may be trimmed which would allow for more US wheat exports. The demand for US wheat looks to be strong for the remainder of this year but when the southern hemisphere starts harvest the smaller demand for US wheat should pull prices down. In the short run keep an eye on any weather problems and trouble in Russia as US spring wheat is off to a great start with 82% rated good to excellent.

 


DOW Jones
The Dow Jones had a major selloff Thursday as concern over COVID-19 begins to ramp back up. Cases/hospitalizations in some places have started to go back up the last week. This could be a result of the easing of restrictions but many states who have been open are not showing major changes despite a small up trend in cases. The government earlier this week also admitted they made a mistake, shocking I know, when calculating last week’s unemployment rate. They have admitted they were off by 3% stating it should have been at 16.3% instead of the reported 13.3% that lead to a market rally.

Crude Oil
Crude took a hit on Thursday with the market selloff, as it fell over $3 a barrel. This comes as a result of similar reasons for the fall in the DOW Jones as consumer’ optimism about COVID-19 may be put on hold for a little bit. If consumers do not plan on travelling as much this summer and fall anymore and people continue to not go in the office consumer consumption will stay low.

05 Jun 2020

Ag Markets Update: May 30- June 5

Planting is close to done in most parts of the country with over 90% of corn in the ground. Now the focus will turn to weather as early growing season is an important time. With a tropical depression in the gulf, it makes it difficult to predict future weather patterns as they are constantly changing. One model predicts for a drought type pattern in the southern plains and western corn belt as the tropical storm Cristobal pulls a lot of energy, so we’ll see how that pans out. Corn prices have been steady the past few weeks with few purchases to get excited about and no early problems to the U.S. corn crop. As long as yield estimates for U.S. corn stays high, there does not seem to be many reasons for a rally unless there is a weather event or we start to see large purchases. Ethanol production has remained steady as reserves are starting to go down, which will hopefully lead to more plants opening back up. The chart below is for July corn and you can see the change in the 20 day moving average as it has begun to tick up.

Soybean prices got a boost this week as Chinese buying continued, despite the government telling companies to quit buying many U.S. Ag products in retaliation to Trump’s comments and policies about Hong Kong last week. Despite what people thought would initially hurt Chinese purchases, tensions seem to be cooling between the two countries (for now). A huge week of soybean meal exports helped fund short covering that gave beans a big boost on Thursday. Continued buying from China would be very supportive for beans, but a decline could see a retreat after recent strength. Look for bean planting to continue its good progress over the next week.

Cotton traded above $.60/pound this week for the first time in the July contract since March 16. Rising futures prices with smaller open interest usually leads to a price reversal, which this price move has seemed to follow. With more open interest in the December contract month, look for more volatility moving forward as speculators will look there. We are barely into the start of hurricane season and already on hurricane number 3 forming in the gulf. A long and consistent hurricane season could do a great deal of damage to the southeast Cotton crop. Cotton has always been sensitive to the U.S. dollar, so a weakening dollar the last couple of weeks has been supportive to prices.

DOW Jones

The Dow Jones continues its climb as it topped 26,000 this week. The markets have recovered quicker than many expected to get to this point. As states across the country have opened back up investors have an optimistic outlook for the rest of 2020. Continuing progress on the Covid-19 vaccine and no spikes in positive test results are all good things for the market and overall economy of the US. This will help people get back to work quickly and hopefully minimize the damage of the long shutdowns.

Crude Oil

Crude continues its climb back to normal prices as OPEC is in discussions to continue production cuts for June. Even though the world is opening back up and oil demand will ramp up, drilling needs to happen at the same rate to not create an oversupply. This agreement being extended would be supportive for crude.

29 May 2020

AG MARKETS UPDATE: MAY 23-29

Planting is almost complete across the country as the final reported number was 88% planted this week. The weather outlook into early June is promising for many areas that were delayed in planting to still be able to get their crop in the ground in early June with the exception of parts of North Dakota that will be hard to catch up. With little news in the markets this month, trade has been pretty stagnant. July corn did trade at $3.30 in the July contract for the first time in over a month on Thursday before falling back to $3.27 ½ at the close. If July corn could close above $3.30 for the month of May it would be a very welcome sight after a month of very limited trading range.

(Barchart.com)

 

Soybean planting was estimated to be 65% complete this week, still well ahead of the average for this time of year. Like corn, the weather for the next week is promising for planting progress across most of the country. Purchases from China gave beans a boost early in the week but no follow up purchases have kept the news slow and prices steady. Any purchases from China, as has been the trend, would be helpful to prices along with an easing in political tensions. ASF news has been quiet as Covid-19 has been the big news story, but as China continues to replenish its hog populations that should help purchases in the future. November beans have been trading between $8.30 and $8.55 for most of the last month with $8.50 the current landing spot. While the bulls have been hopeful of size-able Chinese purchases, the reality has been small purchases with much of their purchases coming from Brazil.

(Barchart.com)

Crude Oil prices have had a great rally despite early worries that we would have another bottleneck problem like we did with the May crude contracts for July. As people around the country are going back to their daily lives, in some capacity they are driving again. The rest of this year should see increasing travel by car as people will look to drive to vacations rather than hoping on a plane. See the chart below to see the impressive rebound for the month of May.

(Barchart.com)

DOW Jones
The Dow Jones has continued its surge up as May will post another large gain despite record unemployment numbers. As states have begun reopening, traders are seeing this as promising for the markets as people will hopefully be returning to work. People continue to work from home in many major cities, or have the option to work from home, and will probably continue doing this as the summer goes on until the public feels safe to return to close to normal.

CFAP Relief Package
Enrollment for the CFAP Relief Package began this week on the 26th. If you have not already, reach out to your local FSA office to begin this process to make sure you do not miss out on any opportunity. The CFAP had scheduled payment of 32 cents per bushel from the original CARES Act and a CCC payment of 35 cents per bushel on the lower of 50% of last year’s production or 50% of your unpriced corn on January 15th. That works out to potentially receiving 67 cents on half of last year’s corn crop. The soybeans payment works the same with payments of 45 cents and 50 cents for a potential payment of 95 cents per bushel on 50% of last year’s bean crop. The math is not clear nor why January 15th was chosen, but those are the guidelines. Livestock is also covered in the payment and information on that from the USDA website can be found here. For more information on how to sign up for the CFAP Relief Package, check out this video.

22 May 2020

AG MARKETS UPDATE: MAY 16-22


Farmers in the Midwest are saying what we’re all thinking – “enough of the rain already!” There has been major rainfall, and even flooding, across most of the Midwest including Michigan, Illinois, and Southern Ohio over the past month, and without a drier outlook over the next week, there’s the potential for planting to be pushed back up against the “prevent plant deadline” in those states. Across the rest of the country, planting is still on a good pace and flat prices week-over-week show little news in the markets. Ethanol production ticked up last week but will need a much larger demand to use up the massive amounts in storage. With exports falling within expectations trade looks to remain calm as we head into Memorial Day weekend and the start of summer.

U.S. Soybean planting, like corn, has continued its good start in most areas except for North Dakota. Bean prices took a big hit on Thursday despite a 22-week high in sales of 1.205 MMT with 738k tonnes going to China. The possibility of increased political tensions as President Trump fired off more tweets criticizing China pulled the markets lower after a good week. Along with Australia’s wanting the WHO to investigate the origins of the coronavirus outbreak, Trump’s tweets are another thing in a long line of issues that could come between the U.S. and China’s phase 1 trade agreement.

(Food Business News)

Wheat has seen a boost this week as the Russian wheat crop yield appears similar to last year. The excess rain in parts of the US with SRW has lead to some worries about the crop and the possibility of worsening conditions. There has been a pickup in domestic demand as mills around the country are opening back up and demand ramps up. Keep an eye on Russian Wheat as another big cut to their yield would be supportive of U.S. wheat prices along with further weather problems domestically.

There’s been a lot going on in the meats sector – specifically when it comes to COVD-19 impacting American production plants.

COVID-19 has infiltrated America’s meatpacking plants causing them to slow processing speeds, or close all-together… Converting livestock into the cuts that get to your plate requires massive facilities, intensive labor, and working in tight quarters which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to control the spread of a contagious disease. Without the ability to “socially distance”, thousands of plant workers have become ill, some have died, while many others are too afraid to go to work. The repercussions of the Covid-19-related plant disruptions will impact our food system for years to come. Once the smoke clears, owners of large meat packing plants may look to create smaller, regional facilities meaning consumers can expect higher prices, and fewer choices in the coming weeks and months.

Check out more short-term and long-term repercussions in the rest of our blog here.

 

CFAP Relief Package
The USDA came out with more information this week about the CFAP Relief Package. The CFAP had scheduled payment of 32 cents per bushel from the original CARES Act and a CCC payment of 35 cents per bushel on the lower of 50% of last year’s production or 50% of your unpriced corn on January 15th. That works out to potentially receiving 67 cents on half of last year’s corn crop. The soybeans payment works the same with payments of 45 cents and 50 cents for a potential payment of 95 cents per bushel on 50% of last year’s bean crop. The math is not clear nor why January 15th was chosen, but those are the guidelines. Livestock is also covered in the payment and information on that from the USDA website can be found here. Sign up starts next Tuesday the 26th at your local FSA office. For more information on how to sign up, check out this video.

Via Barchart.com

15 May 2020

AG MARKETS UPDATE: MAY 8-15

Corn planting in 2020 continued its strong pace last week as the crop is estimated to be at little less than 70% planted. This is well ahead of last year’s pace and with favorable weather outlooks for the rest of May, the crop should be 100% planted by June.

USDA Report
The May USDA Report came out on Tuesday and it’s safe to say it came of little surprise to most – the ‘19/20 US Corn Stocks were a little lower, while ‘19/20 World Corn Stocks were a bit higher.

The main adjustment was made in the Ethanol Corn numbers in ‘19/20 where they cut 100 million bushels. With Ethanol production averaging 17% lower than last year’s number through August, another 100 million bushels would need to be cut to meet lower demand. Even with the country opening back up, there are still uncertainties on demands as more people are interested in a car ride over jumping into a plane. Ultimately, this report just confirmed what everyone already knew: the world is drowning in corn. With a great start to planting and estimates of a trend line yield of 176+, this problem looks to continue for corn as the year goes on.

U.S. Soybean planting, like corn, continued its streak. As mentioned last week, China is well behind pace to meet the amount of ag goods purchased from the U.S. from Phase 1 of the trade agreement meaning U.S. bean prices are at the mercy of Chinese consumption. As political tensions continue to hover over the markets, prices will be dependent on U.S. and China political and/or export news. With the May USDA report being neutral to bearish, it has turned into a waiting game in the bean market as they continue to wait for buyers.

In the meats sector there is currently a disconnect between futures and cash prices; futures price is roughly $15-20 under the current cash price showing an immediate need for beef. The market is showing the packer margins are phenomenal and because of that, the packers are trying to throw the ranchers a bone by offering over the futures price, but not anywhere near the margin difference they are making. In essence, the packers are buying for relatively cheap and selling for a lot more than they usually would as supplies are tight. This is part of the reason the Trump administration is looking into the meat industry, as several large players are foreign-owned. China will not be buying any cattle from Australia due to their criticism over their handling of COVID-19, so some of that demand may be filled from the U.S. but seeing as we are struggling on our end with production, that would put another strain on the market.

Cotton looks to be experiencing a short squeeze this week on July futures. The Midsouth is behind on planting due to cool weather over the past couple of weeks; soil temps need to be above 65 degrees for planting and the mid-south has had several nights in the low 40s in May.

Cool temperatures are a little surprising this time of year, but I think we’ll get through that fairly unscathed. It’s warming up pretty fast, so it shouldn’t hurt us too badly. Dan Fromme (AgFax)

Cotton needs manufacturing around the world to ramp up as countries begin to drive demand. The USDA report this week was neutral-to-bearish and cotton has managed to hold on to most of its gains making short speculators nervous. They’ll be keeping a close eye on Thursday exports as there’s only one month remaining in the July futures contract. Buying from China, like with any other commodity right now, would be a welcome sight.

Relief Package
The House is expected to vote on another round of financial stimulus equaling out to $3 trillion. In this bill, $16.5 billion may be earmarked for direct farm payments and help for the ethanol and biofuel industry. It may also direct the USDA to reimburse any livestock producer that had to euthanize animals due to closed processing facilities (more on that here).

08 May 2020

Ag Markets Update: May 1-7

Corn planting continued at a great pace around the country in the last week as weather has stayed favorable in some of the largest corn growing states. Weather looks good into the end of May for planting in most areas which would be bearish for the market. The next USDA report comes out on May 12th which will give some more insight into the supply and demand for the rest of the year. If you’re looking for any positive corn news in the short term, keep an eye out for updates on ethanol production, crude oil demand, and unexpected weather issues.

 


U.S. Soybean markets are keeping their eyes on Brazil and China as the U.S. continues to battle it out against Brazil for Chinese Soybean purchases. With increased political tensions, record Brazilian exports, and lagging demand, it’s looking like China will struggle to meet the Phase 1 agreement. Soybean planting continued over the week and is off to a great start at 23% planted and with a good weather outlook for the week should continue.

 

Crude oil storage & oversupply continues to make the market unstable; to help offset that risk, FCM’s have begun to add precautionary measures to reduce and eliminate speculative risk to customers in the front month by restricting to high net worth investors. June crude oil has rallied 269% since its low on April 21 at $6.50, while December crude has rallied 20.4% since its low on April 22nd. This shows that the major risk for prices is in the short run while further off markets have stayed calm. In addition the largest oil ETF, USO had a reverse stock split 1:8 and has diversified the funds exposure out across the curve. USO represents roughly 6% of the oil market with open interest of over 2 million as of May 7.


(eia)

 

The government is looking at intervening in the meat packing industry as struggles continue. Foreign interests in both ends of the process has the U.S. government looking to make sure we have control of the process and it is fair. The biggest focus in the meats industry is the plant closures and disruptions in the supply line from COVID-19.

Some U.S. meatpacking plants shut down because so many people were out sick they couldn’t function, or were ordered to close so public health investigators could make sure the workplace was safe…. The meat industry must balance consumer demand with worker safety, when historically the industry’s concern — from the design of plants to employee protocols — prioritizes mass production.” – Green Bay Gazette

 

Relief Package
The House will be debating a bill to add another $38 billion to the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), brining available funds to $68 billion. The USDA allocate this money to fund MFP3, direct commodity purchases, and other programs like WHIP+. Both sides are arguing about oversight of the distribution of the funds, but the bill is expected to pass later this spring.

DOW
After a historic rebound in the month of April, the Dow seemed to come back to earth to start May as we saw a 680-point drop last week. There is a lot of uncertainty about a possible second wave of shutdowns as the country begins to open back up, along with concerns about how China will respond to U.S. politicians calling for accountability in their transparency, or lack thereof, in the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis.

Via Barchart.com

30 Apr 2020

Ag Markets Update: April 22-30

Corn planting has accelerated in the last week with planted acres now at 27% complete. This is 7% ahead of the normal pace and well ahead of where we were at this time in 2019. Still ahead of last year’s pace, the acres planted in the Eastern Corn Belt is lagging behind the rest of the country as they are stuck in a wet and cool weather pattern slowing their efforts to get in the field. As you can see from RJO’Brien’s U.S. Corn Planting Progress, the leading corn planted states are:

      • MN at 40%
      • IA at 39%
      • IL at 37%
      • NE at 20%

 

With parts of the country set to reopen this week, it will be important to keep your eye on what happens in the oil markets. If consumers start buying more gas and getting back to normal travel, look for ethanol demand to crawl back. There is no quick fix to these markets, any positive COVID-19 news remains the biggest boosts for these markets.

 

The biggest news in beans is that there is little to no news. Outside of some sales to China and Mexico, beans have been at the mercy of COVID-19 and Brazil. Soybean planting progress came in at 8% this week (average is 4%) as weather in a lot of areas was good over the weekend. U.S. bean prices continue to be competitive with South America, however SA beans are higher quality, leading them to be the preferred option:

U.S. soybean sales last week of 1.078 MMT (39.6 million bushels) fell in line with market expectations of 700k-1.2 MMT, but were the highest in 19 weeks. This comes with the return of Chinese buying with purchases of 618k tonnes for the week giving beans a much welcome price boost.

 

Crude Oil is still feeling the effects of last week’s historic day. While it has rebounded from the lows and is now trading in the $15 range, the outlook is still grim. As U.S. and World stocks are getting close to capacity, there are oil tankers anchored in place around the world’s oceans as they await instructions on where to deliver. The best case for oil prices comes with the world economy opening and consumers reverting back to normal means of consumption and any positive COVID-19 treatment news would be bullish for crude moving forward.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on a number of critical U.S. industries, but none more strategically important than food production. In the livestock industry, the biggest concern is keeping processing plants staffed. Line speeds have slowed considerably, and in some cases, plants shuttered completely. U.S. beef production fell from 565 million pounds the week of March 23rd to 414 million pounds last week, down -27% from a month ago. Pork production is also dropping sharply with hog slaughter down nearly 650,000 head on a weekly basis. The backlog is forcing producers to destroy millions of market ready animals, break eggs, abort sows, and euthanize piglets. Meat supplies are contracting, pushing wholesale beef prices to record highs. Pork bellies that were being rendered a few weeks ago have tripled in price. Shortages in meat cases are imminent unless something changes quickly.

On April 28th, President Trump attempted to address this situation by invoking the Defense Production Act, which will require meat packing plants to remain open. A key component of the ACT releases packing plant owners (Tyson, Cargill, Smithfield, JBS et al) from liability if workers fall ill from COVID-19.  The announcement got immediate pushback from workers and labor unions representing 80% of the packing industry workforce.

 

Relief Package
The $19 Billion farm relief package that was announced a couple of weeks ago will touch most sectors of agriculture. Of the $19 Billion, $3.9 Billion will be direct payments for grain and soy growers, while the largest chunk of the money will be $9.6 Billion ($5.1 Billion for beef, $2.9 Billion for dairy and $1.6 Billion for hogs) to livestock producers that have been undercut by processing plant closures and logistic problems. Distribution of these funds will be made quickly according to various Senate sources.

“This aid will help keep food on Americans’ tables by providing a lifeline to farm families already hit by trade wars and severe weather.” – Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau (USA Today)

Dow Jones
The Dow is up again this week on news from the Fed promising support for the economy, while also pledging to keep interest rates near zero and possible treatments for COVID-19. After a miserable February and March, April has been a good month for the market as continued hope of a light at the end of the tunnel along with strong responses by the Fed have pushed markets higher.

What-It-Takes-To-Feed-The-W

Did you know that by 2050, the world is expected to feed almost 2 billion more people than we do today? As the global population continuously rises, a significant amount of food will need to be produced over the next 30 years.