Crop Market Update: March 17, 2014

Many of the crop markets have been relatively quiet following last week’s WASDE report as traders are eagerly anticipating the March 31 prospective plantings and grain stocks reports. Nearby corn futures closed a penny higher today than they did a week ago, although they are down on the day. U.S. corn exports are still going strong with weekly export inspections of just under 977,000 metric tons, more than double that of a year ago. Traders are also closely watching the ongoing situation in Ukraine, which accounts for about 16% of global corn exports.

Soybean futures have leveled out after taking a hit in response to last Monday’s WASDE report. Nearby soybean futures were trading at $14.57 the Friday before the report’s release, but tumbled to $13.87 by last Wednesday as news of higher than expected ending stocks was reported. Harvest progress in Brazil is ahead of last year’s pace, but U.S. exports are also significantly higher than they were a year ago. Along with corn, soybean traders are anticipating the March 31 prospective plantings report as early estimates of planted acres are beginning to flow in. The most recent estimate comes from Allendale, with an estimated 83.2 million acres planted to soybeans. This would be more than 6 million acres higher than last year and significantly higher than USDA’s early estimate of 79.5 million acres. Allendale estimates corn acres at 92.3 million acres, slightly higher than the USDA’s estimate of 92 million acres, but well below last year’s 95.36 million acres.

The month and a half long rally in wheat prices has stalled out over the last few days with the nearby futures contract closing down 12 cents on the day. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has caused Russia’s currency to weaken, therefore making their wheat cheaper on the global market. Russia, Ukraine, and Australia have also seen some precipitation that has aided their wheat crops. Traders will also be watching the U.S. wheat crop as it comes out of dormancy to see how much of the crop has been effected by winterkill.