Afternoon report: Corn prices fade into the red, wheat stands firm and soybeans closes with mixed results.

Ben Potter, Senior editor

July 20, 2023

6 Min Read
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Grain prices moved sharply higher in recent sessions, but the latest rally lost some steam on Thursday after traders opted to lock in some profits. Corn prices moved moderately lower, and soybeans closed with mixed results. Wheat prices continued to trend higher, meantime, as Russia’s latest aggressions in Ukraine has caused a lot of uncertainty about the viability of Black Sea exports.

Drier weather is likely for many Midwestern fields heading into next week, although a band stretching from western Nebraska all the way through the Mid-South could deliver another 1” or more between Friday and Monday, per the latest 72-hour cumulative precipitation map from NOAA. Further out, NOAA’s new 8-to-14-day outlook predicts some seasonally wet weather developing in parts of the Northern Plains between July 27 and August 2, with much warmer-than-normal conditions likely for the entire central U.S. during that time.

On Wall St., the Dow firmed by another 172 points in afternoon trading to reach 35,233 and looks likely to close higher for the ninth consecutive session – the longest winning streak since 2017. Energy futures also stayed firm today. Crude oil was up nearly 0.5% this afternoon, staying above $75 per barrel. Diesel pushed more than 0.75% higher, with gasoline up around 1%. The U.S. Dollar firmed moderately.

On Wednesday, commodity funds were net buyers of corn (+12,000), soybeans (+3,000), soyoil (+5,000) and CBOT wheat (+15,500) contracts but were net sellers of soymeal (-1,000).
Corn prices stumbled moderately lower after traders engaged in a round of profit-taking and technical selling on Thursday. September futures dropped 8.5 cents to $5.37, with December futures down 7 cents to $5.46.

Corn basis bids were steady to weak after softening 2 to 10 cents lower across half a dozen Midwestern locations on Thursday.

Corn exports captured 28.7 million bushels in combined old and new crop sales last week. That was also toward the higher end of trade estimates, which ranged between 9.8 million and 39.4 million bushels. Cumulative totals for the 2022/23 marketing year are still noticeably lower than last year’s pace after reaching 1.411 billion bushels.

Corn export shipments eroded 38% below the prior four-week average, with 15.1 million bushels. Mexico, China, Japan, Colombia and Canada were the top five destinations.
The Environmental Protection Agency reported that the U.S. generated 1.28 billion ethanol blending credits in June, which was a steady pace when compared to May’s volume. The U.S. also generated 674 million biodiesel blending credits last month, versus 750 million in May.

The International Grains Council raised its 2023/24 global corn production estimates by 9 million metric tons (approximately 354 million bushels) to 1.22 billion metric tons, which it attributes to increased production potential in the U.S.

Brazilian consultancy Agroconsult expects the country’s current second corn crop will climb to a new record of 4.220 billion bushels. That would be a 16% advantage over last season’s total, if realized. With an abundance of supplies, Agroconsult expects Brazilian corn exports could top 2.125 billion bushels in the current marketing year.

There are two types of rallies in the grain markets, observes Jim McCormick, hedging strategist with The first is demand-driven, and the second is supply-driven. “Supply driven rallies tend to be explosive and short-lived, while demand tends to be more of a grind toward higher trade action,” he says. “We view this [current] rally as an opportunity to make catch-up sales as this rally is likely to be fast but short-lived.” McCormick offers additional analysis in today’s Ag Marketing IQ blog – click here to learn more.
Preliminary volume estimates were for 356,005 contracts, spilling significantly below Wednesday’s final count of 625,547.

Soybean prices were mixed after a round of uneven technical maneuvering on Thursday. August futures firmed 3 cents to $14.9450, while September futures dropped 6.25 cents lower to $14.2575. The rest of the soy complex was mixed. Soymeal futures faded 0.75% lower today, while soyoil futures jumped more than 2% higher.

Soybean basis bids were steady to soft after eroding 10 to 30 cents lower across eight Midwestern locations on Thursday.

Soybean exports reached 32.6 million bushels in combined old and new crop sales last week. That was on the very high end of analyst estimates, which ranged between 5.5 million and 36.7 million bushels. Cumulative totals for the 2022/23 marketing year are still more than 100 million bushels lower than last year’s pace so far, with 1.833 billion bushels.

Soybean export shipments were 15% lower than the prior four-week average, with 8.8 million bushels. The Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, Indonesia and Japan were the top five destinations.
Brazil’s Abiove increased its estimates for the country’s current soybean crop to 5.750 billion bushels in what is increasingly looking like a record-breaking crop. Abiove also increased its outlook for Brazil’s 2022/23 soybean exports, with a new estimate of 3.583 billion bushels. Soymeal exports are expected to reach 22 million metric tons.

Can your marketing plan withstand wild weather markets? That’s a question that Luke Williams, ag risk management adviser with Advance Trading, has found himself asking. “In my opinion, managing through a summer weather market is the toughest thing to do the entire year,” he says. “There are so many emotions that get in the way of making good business decisions. You need tools that are flexible and protect – not predict.” Williams serves up a fresh round of advice in yesterday’s Ag Marketing IQ blog – click here to learn more.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 187,927 contracts, which was moderately lower than Wednesday’s final count of 251,944.

Wheat prices continued to find some positive forward momentum on Thursday as traders continue to closely monitor the latest geopolitical turmoil in the Black Sea region. September Chicago SRW futures eased 0.25 cents lower to $7.2750, while September Kansas City HRW futures rose 8.25 cents to $8.75 and September MGEX spring wheat futures added 5.75 cents to $9.03.
Wheat export sales were lackluster last week, with just 6.3 million bushels. That was below the entire range of trade guesses, which came in between 7.3 million and 18.4 million bushels.

Cumulative totals for the 2023/24 marketing year have started off a bit behind last year’s pace so far, with 61.8 million bushels.

Wheat export shipments came in at 8.7 million bushels last week. Chile was the No. 1 destination, with 3.0 million bushels. Taiwan, Brazil, Mexico and Peru rounded out the top five.

Although a shipping deal that allows for safe passage of shipping vessels in the Black Sea has expired, Russian ambassador Antoly Antonov said today that they have do not plan to attack civilian ships. However, many experts on the matter remain worried that Russia will continue to target Ukrainian grain facilities, and Moscow has also said it will assume any ships traveling to Ukrainian ports as potentially containing military cargo.

As expected, Japan purchased 3.9 million bushels of food-quality wheat from the United States, Canada and Australia in a regular tender that closed earlier today. Of the total, 45% was sourced from the U.S. The grain is for shipment in September.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 243,066 CBOT contracts, sliding slightly below Wednesday’s final count of 254,125.


About the Author(s)

Ben Potter

Senior editor, Farm Futures

Senior Editor Ben Potter brings two decades of professional agricultural communications and journalism experience to Farm Futures. He began working in the industry in the highly specific world of southern row crop production. Since that time, he has expanded his knowledge to cover a broad range of topics relevant to agriculture, including agronomy, machinery, technology, business, marketing, politics and weather. He has won several writing awards from the American Agricultural Editors Association, most recently on two features about drones and farmers who operate distilleries as a side business. Ben is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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