Afternoon report: Corn and soybeans reverse lower on Thursday; wheat stays slightly firm.

Ben Potter, Senior editor

June 22, 2023

5 Min Read
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Grain prices have moved substantially higher in recent sessions and finally got to a level where they were more vulnerable to see a round of profit-taking, which happened to corn and soybeans today. September corn futures dropped more than 1% in the ensuing round of technical selling, with August soybean futures down more than 1.75%. Wheat prices were mostly higher, meantime, as concerns are mounting about the fate of a Black Sea shipping treaty that will expire if it is not otherwise renewed prior to July 18.

Most of the central U.S. will get at least some measurable moisture between Friday and Monday, with the Dakotas, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa likely to see significant rains during that time, per the latest 72-hour cumulative precipitation map from NOAA. Later on, NOAA’s new 8-to-14-day outlook predicts more above-average precipitation for the Northern Plains between June 29 and July 5, with warmer-than-normal temperatures likely for most of the central U.S.

On Wall St., the Dow eased fractionally lower, shedding just 2 points in afternoon trading to 33,948 as investors brace for potential interest rate hikes that the Federal Reserve hinted could be on their way later this year. Energy futures faded noticeably lower, with crude oil down more than 4% this afternoon to $69 per barrel on worries about higher interest rates. Diesel was also down around 4%, with gasoline stumbling 3% lower. The U.S. Dollar firmed moderately.

On Wednesday, commodity funds were net buyers of corn (+22,500), soybeans (+20,000), soymeal (+14,000) and CBOT wheat (+14,500) but were net sellers of soyoil (-11,000).

Corn

Corn prices incurred moderate losses following a round of technical selling and profit-taking on Thursday. Spillover weakness from soybeans also factored into today’s losses. July futures lost 12.25 cents to $6.5875, with September futures down 7 cents to $6.1650.

Corn basis bids were steady to weak across the central U.S. after eroding 5 to 22 cents lower across eight Midwestern locations on Thursday.

Ethanol production for the week ending June 16 improved to a daily average of 1.052 million barrels, per the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, out this morning. That was also the largest weekly production since last December. Ethanol stocks increased by 3% last week.

Meantime, EPA announced its final rule on Renewable Fuel Standard volumes for 2024 and 2025 yesterday. Initial proposals were for 15.25 billion gallons, but the agency slightly lowered that level to 15 billion gallons. But many in the biofuel industry found those numbers to be lacking. Joshua Bathage, policy editor for Farm Progress, took a closer look at the situation in his latest reporting – click here to learn more.

Prior to Friday morning’s export report from USDA, analysts expect the agency to show corn sales ranging between zero and 31.5 million bushels for the week ending June 15.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 440,633 contracts, shifting noticeably below Wednesday’s final count of 584,233.

Soybeans

Soybean prices suffered a moderate technical setback after traders locked in profits, pushing prices back into the red on the ensuing round of technical selling. July futures dropped 13.75 cents to $15.01, with August futures down 25.75 cents to $14.1925.

The rest of the soy complex was mixed. Soymeal futures tumbled more than 3% lower, while soyoil prices tested gains of around 0.3% to 0.4%.

Soybean basis bids faded 5 to 15 cents lower at five Midwestern processors and dropped 10 cents lower at an Ohio processor while firming 2 cents at an Ohio elevator and holding steady elsewhere across the central U.S. on Thursday.

Ahead of Friday morning’s export report from USDA, analysts think the agency will show soybean sales ranging between 3.7 million and 33.1 million bushels for the week ending June 15. Analysts also expect to see soymeal sales ranging between 150,000 and 450,000 metric tons, plus up to 15,000 MT of soyoil sales.

A heatwave in China could threaten grain production there. Beijing recorded temperatures as high as 106 ˚F this month, which is its highest June temperature on record. Aside from potential crop damage, the heat is ramping up energy demand and causing some municipalities to stop outdoor work during the hottest part of the day.

In Argentina, the Buenos Aires grains exchange again trimmed its estimates for the country’s 2022/23 corn production, which fell to 1.339 billion bushels amid widespread drought earlier in the season. The exchange also slightly lowered its expectations for Argentina’s 2023/24 wheat plantings, moving that number to 15.073 million acres.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 350,292 contracts, firming slightly above Wednesday’s final tally of 343,801.

Wheat

Wheat prices tested modest gains as geopolitical turmoil continues to unfold in the Black Sea region. Spillover weakness from corn and soybeans minimized today’s gains, however. September Chicago SRW futures added 5 cents to $7.5325, while September Kansas City HRW futures and MGEX spring wheat futures each picked up a penny to close at $8.73 and $8.8275, respectively.

Prior to tomorrow morning’s USDA export report, analyst expect to see new crop wheat sales ranging between 3.7 million and 14.7 million bushels for the week ending June 15.

Russia has been threatening not to extend a critical deal that allows shipping vessels to travel safely through the Black Sea, which is up for renewal in mid-July. Now, a senior Ukrainian diplomat laments that Russia is “99.9% certain” to allow the deal to expire. Russia has expressed frustrations that its own feed and fertilizer export demands are not being met. Ukraine can still export its grain via rail, but this is much less efficient than shipping through the Black Sea.

As expected, Japan purchased 3.4 million bushels of food-quality wheat from the United States, Canada and Australia that closed earlier today. Of the total, 35% was sourced from the U.S. The grain is for shipment in August.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 174,750 CBOT contracts, which was slightly higher than Wednesday’s final count of 169,705.

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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