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WEEKLY GRAIN MOVEMENT: Calendar, not price, prompts end-of-the-year sales

Farmers only selling to meet year-end obligations.

Farmers sold small amounts of old-corn last week and on Tuesday to accumulate cash to pay year-end bills, otherwise crop prices were not inspiring sales.

Tuesday’s rally in the corn, soybeans and wheat futures were watched but failed to induce a vast amount of farmer selling, grain dealers said. The selling that did occur was to pay for year-end obligations, they said.

November 2017 soybean futures moved back above $10 a bushel on Tuesday, but cash prices remained well below that, which had farmers reluctant sellers.

“We are up 20 cents on the board (soybeans) and nobody is calling,” said one Illinois grain dealer.

The light farmer selling, particularly on corn, had some Illinois elevators a little concerned about having enough grain to fill trains sold for shipment in January.

“We have to ship 2 to 2.5 million bushels in January,” said one shipper.

Ethanol plants appear to have of their January needs covered, but will soon be shopping to cover February and March, dealers said.

The Mississippi River north of St. Louis is closed for the season, so shippers upstream have focused on booking river-opening sales, which also have been light.

Weekly data

Barge grain shipments during the week ended December 17 totaled 765,764 tons, down 28% from the prior week and up 21% from a year ago. Barge rates were higher on lower Illinois River and near St. Louis on the Mississippi River, but lower elsewhere. Shipping on the upper- and mid-Mississippi River is closed for the season.

In the rail sector, grain car loadings totaled 24,618 for the week ended Dec. 10, down 2% from the prior week and 8% from a year ago, USDA’s grain transportation report said.

For truckers, the U.S. average diesel fuel price was up 3 cents in the latest week to $2.53 per gallon. That is up 24 cents from a year ago. The biggest weekly increases, about 4 cents, were in New England, the Southeast and Rocky Mountain regions.

USDA’s latest weekly grain inspections put corn at 38.2 million bushels, up 20% from a week ago, which matched trade forecasts. Mexico and Japan were the largest markets, with Peru taking a sizable amount.

Soybean shipments of 62.8 million were down almost 2% from a week ago but matched trade forecasts, with China again the largest market. Wheat shipments of 19.1 million were up 7.3% from a week ago to beat trade forecasts. Mexico and Thailand were the largest destinations.

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