Afternoon report: Corn prices fade into the red, while winter wheat prices trend higher.

Ben Potter, Senior editor

May 31, 2023

5 Min Read
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Grain prices were mixed on Wednesday as traders remain focused on a broad range of potential market-moving factors, such as ongoing export trends, South American production potential and U.S. weather that has been mostly favorable so far in the young 2023 season. Corn prices eased slightly lower, while soybeans finished the session with narrowly mixed results. Wheat prices were also mixed – winter wheat found moderate gains while spring wheat incurred double-digit losses.

Most areas west of the Mississippi River are likely to receive at least some measurable moisture between Thursday and Sunday, while the eastern Corn Belt will remain relatively dry through the rest of the week, per the latest 72-hour cumulative precipitation map from NOAA. The agency’s new 8-to-14-day outlook predicts drier-than-normal conditions will settle into the Great Lakes region between June 7 and June 13, with some warmer-than-normal weather returning to the Great Plains.

On Wall St., the Dow dipped 121 points lower in afternoon trading to 32,921 as investors square their bets for May and keep a keen eye on the ongoing debate over the debt ceiling. A possible extension is expected to be voted on this evening. Energy futures were in the red, with crude oil down 2% this afternoon on general concerns over Chinese demand. Diesel dropped more than 1%, with gasoline down around 2%. The U.S. Dollar firmed moderately.

On Tuesday, commodity funds were net sellers of all major grain contracts, including corn (-7,500), soybeans (-13,500), soymeal (-4,500), soyoil (-10,000) and CBOT wheat (-9,500).


Corn prices attempted but ultimately failed to get back into the green after suffering a moderate overnight technical setback. Losses weren’t severe, however. July futures eased a penny lower to $5.93, with September futures down 3.75 cents to $5.1625.

Corn basis bids were mixed at several interior river terminals on Wednesday but held steady across other Midwestern locations today.

Corn plantings reached 92% through Sunday, mirroring analyst expectations and improving from last week’s mark of 81%. It’s also eight points ahead of both 2022’s pace and the prior five-year average of 84%. Seventy-two percent of the crop is now emerged, up from 52% a week earlier.

USDA also began to report corn quality ratings this week. The agency puts 69% of the crop in good-to-excellent condition, with another 26% rated fair and just 5% rated poor or very poor. Wisconsin is leading the way so far among the top 18 production states, with 82% of its corn rated in good-to-excellent condition so far.

According to Ukrainian analyst APK-Inform, the country’s total grain exports for the 2022/23 marketing year are trending around 3.6% below last year’s pace so far amid the ongoing Russian invasion. That includes corn sales totaling 1.059 billion bushels, plus another 565.9 million bushels of wheat exports. Ukraine is among the world’s top exporters of both commodities.

Grain traveling the nation’s railways added another 19,798 carloads last week. That brings cumulative totals for 2023 to 422,364 carloads, which is a year-over-year decline of 7.0% so far.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 311,522 contracts, tracking moderately below Tuesday’s final count of 361,976.


Soybean prices finished Wednesday’s session with slightly mixed results amid some uneven technical maneuvering today. July futures added 3 cents to $12.9950, while August futures eased 2.25 cents to $12.1725. The rest of the soy complex trended higher – barely. Soymeal and soyoil futures each found fractional gains.

Soybean basis bids were largely steady across the central U.S. on Wednesday but did trend 6 cents lower at an Illinois river terminal today.

Soybean plantings moved from 66% a week ago up to 83%, leaving it slightly ahead of the average trade guess of 82%. It’s also significantly higher than 2022’s pace of 64% and the prior five-year average of 65%. Emergence reached 56%, up from 36% last week.

Ahead of the next monthly soybean crushing report from USDA, which will be released Thursday afternoon, analysts expect the agency to show April’s crush reaching 184.8 million bushels. If realized, that would be moderately below March’s tally of 197.9 million bushels but would still be the largest April crush on record. Soyoil stocks are expected to climb to a 14-month high of 2.497 billion pounds through April 30.

Financial decisions often prove to be tough to make, admits Darren Frye, CEO of Water Street Solutions. “Whether that’s creating a financial plan for your operation, getting a marketing plan in place and making decisions about grain sales, or considering major asset purchases for the operation – these are often the types of decisions that can keep a farm leader up at night.” But Frye has three tips in particular that can help you make major decisions on your operation – click here to learn more.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 256,615 contracts, shifting slightly above Tuesday’s final count of 236,855.


Wheat prices were mixed but mostly higher after traders assessed the latest planting progress data for spring wheat and updated quality ratings for winter wheat. September Chicago SRW futures picked up 1.75 cents to $6.0725, and September Kansas City HRW futures added 4.25 cents to $7.8475. MGEX spring wheat contracts failed to follow suit, with September futures falling 14 cents to $7.8050.

Winter wheat quality ratings found a three-point improvement last week, with 34% of the crop now in good-to-excellent condition. That was more generous than the average trade guess, which assumed a one-point improvement would happen this week. Another 31% of the crop is rated fair (up two points from last week), with the remaining 35% rated poor or very poor (down five points from last week). Physiologically, 72% of the crop is now headed, up from 61% a week ago.

Spring wheat plantings moved from 64% a week ago up to 85% through May 28. That’s much faster than 2022’s pace of 70% but just behind the prior five-year average of 86%. More than half (57%) of this season’s crop is now emerged, up from 32% a week earlier and two points behind the prior five-year average of 59%.

South Korea purchased around 2.0 million bushels of animal feed what from optional origins in an international tender that closed earlier today. The grain is for shipment in August.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 125,861 CBOT contracts, sliding slightly below Tuesday’s final count of 132,709.

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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