Afternoon report: Corn, soybeans and wheat all grab double-digit gains in Wednesday’s session.

Ben Potter, Senior editor

June 21, 2023

6 Min Read
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A sour set of crop quality data from USDA – corn, soybean and spring wheat ratings all eroded significantly lower than analysts were expecting – reignited a weather rally that pushed most grain prices noticeably higher. Corn and CBOT wheat contracts were the biggest benefactors, with each climbing more than 5% higher by the close. Soybeans were up around 2.75%. Kansas City HRW contracts rose 4.5%, while MGEX spring wheat contracts enjoyed gains that were around 3%.

It’s going to be hit or miss when it comes for rainfall the rest of this week. Some parts of the Plains could gather as much as 3” or more between Thursday and Sunday, while other areas (including most of Illinois) will receive no measurable moisture during this time, per the latest 72-hour cumulative precipitation map from NOAA. Further out, NOAA’s new 8-to-14-day outlook predicts seasonally wet conditions finally returning to the eastern Corn Belt between June 28 and July 4, with warmer-than-normal temperatures likely for most of the central U.S. as Independence Day approaches.

On Wall St., the Dow inched 22 points higher in afternoon trading to 34,076 as investors are still closely tracking inflation data and continue to speculate on whether or not the Federal Reserve will issue additional interest rate hikes later this year.

On Tuesday, commodity funds were net buyers of soybeans (+1,000) and CBOT wheat (+1,500) contracts but were net sellers of corn (-1,000), soymeal (-2,500) and soyoil (-1,500).

Corn

Corn prices enjoyed a round of ample technical buying on Wednesday after USDA unexpectedly slashed quality ratings by six points in its latest crop progress report. July futures rose 27.5 cents to $6.7125, with September futures up 31.75 cents to $6.2475.

Corn basis bids were mostly steady to soft across the central U.S. after dropping 2 to 7 cents at four Midwestern locations on Wednesday. An Iowa river terminal bucked the overall trend after firming 3 cents higher today.

Corn quality ratings shifted from 61% of the crop rated in good-to-excellent a week ago down to 55% as of June 18. That was well below the average trade guess of 58%. Another 33% of the crop is rated fair (up two points from last week), with the remaining 12% rated poor or very poor (up four points from last week). Physiologically, 96% of the crop is now emerged, up from 93% from a week ago and two points faster than 2022’s pace and the prior five-year average.

Brazil’s Anec estimates that the country’s corn exports will reach 57.1 million bushels in June, which is slightly below the group’s prior projection from a week ago.

Algeria issued an international tender top purchase 4.7 million bushels of animal feed corn to be sourced from Argentina, and which closes on Thursday. The grain is for shipment between July 15 and August 15.

Taiwan purchased 2.6 million bushels of corn, likely sourced from Brazil, in an international tender that closed earlier today. The grain is for shipment between September 19 and October 8.

Grain traveling the nation’s railways added another 15,795 carloads last week. That brings the cumulative total for 2023 to 470,627 carloads, which is a year-over-year decline of 9.0% so far.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 584,233 contracts, moving modestly above Tuesday’s final count of 540,137.

Soybeans

Soybean prices found a big boost after hot, dry weather across much of the Midwest is quickly eroding crop conditions lower. July futures jumped 42.25 cents to $15.1950, with August futures up 38.5 cents to $14.4675.

The rest of the soy complex was mixed. Soymeal futures climbed nearly 7% higher, while soyoil futures closed with limit-down losses.

Soybean basis bids were steady to mixed across the central U.S. on Wednesday after trending as much as 5 cents higher at an Iowa river terminal and as much as 15 cents lower at an Illinois river terminal today.

Soybean ratings were also sharply lower this week after moving from 59% in good-to-excellent condition through June 11 down to 54% through Sunday. Analysts were only anticipating a two-point drop, in contrast. Another 34% was rated fair (up two points from last week), with the remaining 12% rated poor or very poor (up three points from last week).

Physiologically, 92% of the crop is now emerged, up from 86% a week ago. That is significantly above 2022’s pace and the prior five-year average, which were both 81%.

Brazil’s Anec estimates that the country’s soybean exports will reach 525.4 million bushels in June, which is modestly below its prior projection from last week. Anec also expects to see Brazilian soymeal exports reaching 2.37 million metric tons this month.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 343,801 contracts, shifting slightly below Tuesday’s final count of 368,749.

Wheat

Wheat prices notched noticeable gains on a round of technical buying that sent some contracts soaring as much as 5.5% higher on Wednesday. September Chicago SRW futures climbed 39.25 cents to $7.48, September Kansas City HRW futures rose 37.5 cents to $8.72, and September MGEX spring wheat futures gained 26 cents to $8.78.

Winter wheat quality ratings held steady, as expected, with 38% of the crop still in good-to-excellent condition. Another 33% is rated fair (up two points from last week), with the remaining 29% rated poor or very poor (down two points from last week). Nearly all (94%) of the crop is now headed, up from 89% a week ago and slightly faster than the prior five-year average of 93%. Harvest has moved from 8% completion a week ago up to 15%.

Spring wheat quality ratings took a sharp turn lower last week. While analysts anticipated a two-point drop, USDA pushed ratings from 60% rated in good-to-excellent condition a week ago all the way down to 51% through June 18. Another 37% of the crop is rated fair (up four points from last week), with the remaining 12% rated poor or very poor (up five points from last week).

Physiologically, 98% of the crop is emerged, up from 90% last week and a bit faster than the prior five-year average of 95%. Ten percent of the crop is headed, mirroring the prior five-year average.

Russian consultancy Sovecon moderately lowered its estimates for the country’s 2023/24 wheat production, which it now projects at 3.189 billion bushels. Russia is the world’s No. 1 wheat exporter.

Ahead of the next Statistics Canada crop plantings report, out next week, analysts expect the agency to show all wheat plantings at 26.5 million acres, which would be more than 1.2 million acres higher than 2022 totals, if realized. An uptick in spring wheat acres is expected to more than compensate for a slight decline in durum acres this season.

Thailand purchased 2.0 million bushels of animal feed wheat, likely sourced from the Black Sea region, in a tender that recently closed. The grain is for shipment in October.

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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