September 11 – Wheat Prices Slump A Day Ahead of WASDE Report

A day ahead of the September WASDE report, wheat prices slumped alongside a downturn in soybean prices. Just corn prices were on the rise before the U.S. agricultural agency reported its weekly crop quality and progress report. 

Corn Prices Tick Higher  

September corn contracts will expire this week. The September contract added 1.25 cents to close the day at $3.455. The December contract added 0.75 cents to close at $3.575. 

This afternoon, the USDA released its weekly crop progress and quality report. The report indicated that the corn harvest is about 5% complete. That figure is the same as the same period last year.

Conditions remained unchanged from last week’s report. 61% of the U.S. corn crop is rated good-t-excellent (G-E). That figure is still well below the 72% from this time last year. We saw noticeable improvements in quality in Colorado and Illinois. However, quality in Iowa slipped from 62& G-E to 60%.

Ahead of Tuesday’s WASDE report, we dug through more than a dozen reports. The most bullish corn production figure comes from RJ O’Brien, which sits at 13,821 million bushels. The analysts have the lowest yield average of 165.5 bushels per acre.

On the bearish side, look no further than the Hueber Report, who projected 14,195 million bushels. This figure complements 170.0 bushels per acre. This is the only projection we’ve seen at 170.0 bushels per acre or more.

On the global front, low corn prices have pushed farmers over the brink. According to reports, farmers in the region are poised to slash corn acreage significantly in for its upcoming first corn crop.

The reports are hardly surprising. After all, we’ve regularly reported for weeks that farmers are struggling to find places to store their grain. According to the National Supply Company, the total second crop harvest will total 97 million metric tonnes.

In an interview with Agriculture.com, Paulo Bertolini at the Brazilian Association of Corn Growers forecasted a surface-area decline of up to 50% for the first crop. It’s not just a logistical issue impacting the Brazilian market, where farmers have been furious about local cash prices. [1]

It’s also a factor of macroeconomic factors across Brazil that are driving up the price of corn production. Bertolini cites volatility of the dollar, increasing farmer indebtedness, and Brazilian interest rate policy and production capacity as reasons why corn production may slow down.

Soybean Prices Slide Again

The September futures contract will expire Monday. The contract dipped 1.75 cents to close a tick below $9.55. The November contract shed 2 cents to close the day at $9.60.

The USDA reported that soybean quality slipped slightly last week. Soybeans rated G-E fell to 60%, a one-percentage-point decline. We saw noticeable declines in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The USDA had likely factored in storm damage that lingered from Hurricane Harvey.

With Hurricane Irma downgraded to Tropical Storm Irma, markets are keeping a close eye on Georgia and the Carolinas. Georgia’s soybean production doesn’t comprise enough of the total production in the states to warrant conversation, but that didn’t stop people from talking about it.

The most bearish projection comes from INTL FCStone, who projected 4,417 million bushels. The yield figure came in at 49.8 million bushels ahead of the WASDE report. US Commodities isn’t far behind. Their figure came in at 4,410 million bushels and a yield average of 49.5 bushels per acre.

The most bullish number comes in from Allendale, who rattled markets last week with their projections. Allendale projected 4,179 million bushels with a yield of 47.1 bushels per acre.

While Brazil’s first crop corn production may tick lower, soybean production and exports are simply going higher. As we noted last week, Conab said that Brazilian exports of soy topped 44 million metric tonnes over the first six months of the year.

Over the second half of the year? Conab projects that this figure will rise by 22%.

Wheat Prices Slump Despite Australia Cut

In Chicago, the SRW September futures contract dipped 1.5 cents to close a tick above $4.12. The December contract dropped 3 cents to close under $4.35.

In Kansas City, the HRW contracts for September dipped 6.25 cents to close a tick above $4.09. The December contract added 6.75 cents to close just below $4.35. Up in Minneapolis, the September spring wheat contract dropped 4 cents to close above $6.26. The December contract dropped 4.5 cents to close above $6.42.

The downturn came despite news that Australia has slashed its new year wheat production expectations by 10%. Dry weather has pummeled yield expectations, and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) cut its forecast figure to an eight-year low. [2]

According to the USDA crop progress report, 95% of the spring wheat crop has been harvested. That’s a one-point increase from last week and well ahead of the 5-year average of 87%.

Stockpile figures will be critical tomorrow at a time that markets are keeping a close eye on Russian exports and inventory levels. The most bullish stocks figure for the 2017/18 comes from INTL FCStone, which has forecasted global wheat stocks of 883 million bushels for the year.

The most bearish number comes from Vantage RM, which has forecasted new crop stocks of 943 million bushels.

On Tap for Tuesday: The September WASDE Report

On Tuesday, be sure to return for our insight on WASDE and what markets can expect from the USDA moving forward. Doug Kirk gave us an in-depth farmer’s perspective today. Brennan will offer his views tomorrow ahead of the morning report. Meanwhile, we’ll take a deep dive and provide instant reaction from farmers across the country.

About the Author
Garrett Baldwin

Garrett Baldwin is a content strategist and editor at FarmLead. He covers the global grain markets and public policy issues related to the agricultural industry. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Economic Policy from The Johns Hopkins University, an MS in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University, and an MBA in Finance from Indiana University.

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