Higher crop prices after the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued its planting report on Friday spurred farmer selling of old-crop corn late on Friday and again Monday morning, Midwest grain dealers said.
The sales were moderate but were still more than the trickle of business reported in the weeks ahead of the report. No new-crop sales of corn or soybeans were reported as farmers apparently are awaiting the spring rallies that often occur in May or June.
Much of the selling was described as “give-up action” as farmers were anxious to sell in a higher market, even though the cash prices likely missed price targets.
Soybean sales remained slow as the bearish acreage and stocks numbers on Friday sent Chicago, Ill., futures lower, with the May futures contract now in oversold territory on technical charts.
Rain and spring planting
Widespread rain throughout the Midwest since last week had Iowa and Illinois dealers predicting that spring planting of corn and soybeans could be delayed a few days.
Crop insurance start days for corn range from late this week to late next week, but dealers on Monday said wet fields could sideline farmers a few days beyond those dates. The delays were not expected to be serious, and hot weather in the forecast for this weekend could quickly dry fields.
“We are wet. We have water standing in some low spots. We are a ways from doing anything right now,” a central Illinois grain dealer said of the wet fields. Crop insurance would allow corn planting there beginning on about April 5.
In western Iowa, 1.5 in. of rain fell last week, and a little more is in the forecast this week, which could push back a mid-April start to planting, a dealer said. The 6- to 10-day forecast (April 9-13) on Monday showed above-normal chances for rain then and warm weather.
A corn train was being loaded Monday in central Illinois for shipment to a local processor, and another train was being loaded for the Southeast poultry and ethanol markets. While those trains were sold some time ago, the dealer said the Southeast still represents a better market -- by 5-7 cents/bu. -- than the Gulf of Mexico export market.
Barges of corn are being loaded at the Quad Cities for shipment to the Gulf, but that business has been slow, with the seasonal slowing of export shipments. Foreign buyers have shifted their corn and soybean business to South America.
The Mississippi River remains open to navigation after the recent rain, but high water on the Illinois River could slow movement there, one shipper noted.
Corn for April shipment to the Gulf was bid 35 over the Chicago Board of Trade May contract this week, compared with last week’s 34 over. Soybean bids at the Gulf for April were about unchanged from a week ago at 22 over May.
Barge grain shipments during the week ended March 25 totaled 1.066227 million tons, up 22% from the prior week and up 37% from a year ago, according to USDA’s "Grain Transportation Report."
Grain vessel loadings at the Gulf remained active, with USDA reporting 44 vessels loaded during the week of March 23, up 16% from a year ago. Fifty-two vessels are expected to be loaded in the next 10 days, up 18% from a year ago, the report said.
In the rail sector, grain car loadings totaled 23,243 for the week ended March 18, down 4% from the prior week and up 8% from a year ago.
For truckers, the U.S. average diesel fuel price dropped 1 cent during the week ended March 27 to $2.53/gal. That is up 41 cents from a year ago.
USDA’s latest weekly grain inspections are detailed in the following table and charts.
Corn export destinations, bushels – week ended March 30 – USDA
Soybean export destinations, bushels – week ended March 30 –USDA
Wheat export destinations, bushels – week ended March 30 – USDA