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Image of grain bins with words Grain market week in review with Bryce Knorr and Ben Potter in white. Entire image has red tint.

Grain market week in review - June 14, 2019

Corn climbs to five year highs

Missed some market news this week? Here’s a quick look back to catch you up.

Audio

Better weather for planting got some farmers back in the field last week but progress reported this afternoon is still expected to be a record low levels for corn and soybeans. Nonetheless, the break from cold, damp conditions sent futures lower overnight on follow-through selling from Friday’s decline. Outside markets are headed in the other direction, boosted by resolution of the U.S.-Mexico tariff spate.

The outlook for the 2019 corn crop is coming slowly into place. After record slow planting progress USDA releases its first commentary on production prospects with its monthly supply and report this morning. But the size of the crop will be uncertain until combines start rolling this fall, so get ready for this year’s bumpy ride to last longer.

More storms are headed through the Corn Belt over the next week, keeping a large part of the country wet from the southeast Plains to the Great Lakes. The new systems could effectively close the planting window for corn, with a wet outlook into the end of June also hampering soybean seeding. Prices gave back some of Tuesday’s rally overnight but are trying to firm, helped by higher trade in wheat, which doesn’t like moisture either headed into harvest.

Crude oil and corn headed in opposite directions lately but both markets firmed overnight. While crop futures continue to move higher on planting delays, crude turned around following a break to five-month lows on worries about rising supplies and weaker demand. Buyers stepped back in following news two more tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman, near the choke point for oil moving out of the Persian Gulf.

Old and new crop corn futures jumped to new contract highs overnight as the June rally gathers steam. But it takes two to make a market and prices charts are giving both bullish and bearish signals for technical traders. More rains are headed through the Corn Belt this weekend with above average precipitation seen for the next two weeks in many areas.

Exports

The latest round of weekly grain export inspections proved mostly positive this week, despite some logistical challenges, according to Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr.

Worries over 2019 U.S. grain production potential kept prices buoyant early in Thursday’s session, but the latest round of demand-side data from USDA this morning after the agency released its latest weekly export report, which covers the week ending June 6.
Private exporters reported sales of corn and soybeans this week. China, Mexico and unknown destinations were in the market.

Feedback from the Field

Most farmers love to keep planting corn in the spring if the weather’s good. But with summer beginning weather’s been anything but cooperative. Some growers are determined to finish while others switch to soybeans or just threw in the towel and took prevent plant as deadlines passed for full crop insurance coverage.

Supply and demand

Corn prices rallied after USDA cut its estimate of production more than expected due to the historically wet spring in its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, out Tuesday morning. USDA sharply lowered its estimates for 2019 U.S. corn production by nearly 9% from a month ago, to 13.68 billion bushels, on average yield potential of 166.0 bushels per acre across 82.4 million acres. USDA was more generous with its 2019 U.S. soybean production estimates, holding that number steady at 4.15 billion bushels from last month. USDA also held acreage estimates steady, at 83.8 million acres, with per-acre yield projections of 49.5 bpa also unchanged from May.

Planting progress

The 2019 planting season feels like it has moved along at a snail’s pace so far this spring, but farmers did make some decent progress after putting another 16% of this year’s crop in the ground last week, according to the latest round of USDA crop progress data, out Monday afternoon. Corn plantings reached 83% for the week ending June 9 – up from 67% the prior week and in line with analyst expectations.

Market recaps

Grain futures are posting modest gains across the board this morning, fueled by steady buying as markets began open in Europe. With the fate of U.S. corn and perhaps soybean crops in doubt, the path of least resistance still appears to be higher.

Corn wrapped up its best single week since the summer of 2015 and climbed to five-year highs after posting another round of significant gains Friday. Prices moved around 2.5% higher today, as worries over late-planted crops continue. Soybean prices moved around 1% higher, with winter wheat prices also finding moderate gains today. Spring wheat bucked the overall trend, falling 0.5% today.

Outlook

Basis outlook - The historic wet spring of 2019 continues to reverberate through the cash market as summer begins, creating winners and losers last week depend on where you sell and what you’re selling. Bids were mixed even on areas still shipping corn south along the Ohio and Lower Mississippi, reflecting the weaker tone for corn at the Gulf.

Fertilizer outlook - Summer is normally a good time to buy fertilizer for the following year’s crop. But the chaotic spring of 2019 likely will disrupt seasonal trends. In the meantime, growers with storage and cash should look for leftover inventory dealers may be willing to dump to avoid getting stuck with products purchased at higher values.

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