February 21 – Soybean Prices Pop Again Wednesday

Tomorrow, the USDA will release its first estimates on U.S. acreage.

This will be a major event as many analysts anticipate that soybean acreage will outpace corn acreage. Ahead of this report, we saw soybean prices pop again thanks to weather premiums down in Argentina. Let’s do a quick recap of grain prices at the Chicago Board of Trade.

Soybean Prices Push Higher

Just how high are soybean prices set to go? That’s the question that many people are asking here in Chicago. March soybean contracts added 7.75 cents to close the day just above $10.34.

We’re back at a seven-month high on the futures markets.

The reason is the same as always. Argentine weather woes continue to rattle the global market, and speculation is pushing the oilseed’s value higher. It’s still expected to be dry across Argentina in the week ahead. However, markets are expecting the lack of rain in Brazil to help accelerate the nation’s soybean harvest.

While rain is expected to come in March, the persistent dryness across the region has certainly fueled a downturn in yields and total output. Even if yields are weak, the price environment isn’t exactly ideal just yet for deals. According to market chatter across the country, farmers are looking for a price of at least $11.00 to sell their soybeans in Argentina. That was reported today by Agricensus. [1]

Tomorrow, trades estimates have set a range of soybean acres between 88.5 million to 92 million acres, with the average Reuters polled analyst saying 90.6 million acres.

Corn Prices Dip Again

Corn prices didn’t see much movement in Wednesday’s session, with March and May futures finally crossing the finish line up 0.25 cents each, at $3.6575 and $3.74, respectively.

Tomorrow, we could see a slide in U.S. corn acres. Trade estimates have pegged acreage to come in at a range between 88.77 million and 92.5 million acres. The expectation ahead of the USDA Ag Outlook Forum suggests that total acreage will come in at 89.9 million acres. That figure is just below the 2017 figure. Analysts are also expecting a downturn in total output compared to last year.

Yesterday, we noted that a joint-venture between U.S. and Brazilian investors is building a new corn-based ethanol plant in Mato Grosso. The same group has expressed interest in yet another plant, which will be a boon to local farmers.

Finally, in Argentina, we’re watching what other analysts are saying about the total output for the year. Agripac, a private consulting firm, forecasts that Argentina’s 2017/18 corn crop will come in at 37 MMT. That’s 2 MMT less than the 39 MMT estimate from the USDA.

Wheat Prices Slump

March SRW wheat prices in Chicago dipped 2 cents to close just above $4.47 per bushel.

The May SRW contract shed 3 cents to finish at $4.595.

In Kansas City, HRW contracts slipped again. The March contract dropped 6 cents to close the day under $4.66 per bushel. The May contract dipped 5.5 cents to close below $4.82.

In Minneapolis, spring wheat prices were a bit tamer. The MGEX March contract shed 1.25 cents to close the day just above $6.01. The May contract was unchanged at $6.125.

The downturn came thanks to rain across the Midwest. Forecasts indicate that raise is on tap in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska over the next week and a half.

Tomorrow, the USDA will report wheat acreage. This week’s Ag Outlook forum projects that total acreage for 2018 will come in at 46.082 million acres. That’s a 60,000-acre increase from the 2017 figure.

It was a busy day on the international markets. Algeria announced it had purchased 12.5 million bushels (340,000 MT) from “optional origins.” That tender closed Tuesday.

Egypt’s GASC announced it has purchased 4.4 million bushels from Russia.

Tunisia has issued a tender to purchase 2.5 million bushels of soft wheat and 2.3 million bushels of feed barley.

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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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