Afternoon report: CBOT wheat also down 1% on Thursday, while Kansas City HRW contracts firm 0.5%.

Ben Potter, Senior editor

April 7, 2023

6 Min Read
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NOTE: Grain markets will be closed tomorrow in observance of Good Friday. Wishing you a safe, happy Easter weekend with you and yours – be sure to come back Monday morning for our next round of agricultural news and analysis.

Grain prices continued to struggle on Thursday as Brazil gets closer to locking down a record-breaking soybean season, and as rising spring temperatures in the U.S. have traders trying to figure out where planting will progress smoothly and where delays are still likely. Corn and soybean prices each fell more than 1% lower today. Wheat prices were mixed.

Wet weather will continue to drench the Mid-South and Southeast between Friday and Monday, but weekend weather will stay sunny across most of the Midwest and Plains during this time, per the latest 72-hour cumulative precipitation map from NOAA. The agency’s new 8-to-14-day outlook predicts a return to seasonally wet weather for the Plains and western Corn Belt between April 13 and April 19, with dramatically warmer weather likely for the eastern half of the country. On Wall St., the Dow inched 22 points higher in afternoon trading to 33,505 as a shortened trading week draws to a close on Thursday. Energy futures were in the red. Crude oil was near-even this afternoon, staying above $80 per barrel. Gasoline incurred modest losses, while diesel tumbled more than 2% lower. The U.S. Dollar softened slightly.

On Wednesday, commodity funds were net sellers of all major grain contracts, including corn (-500), soybeans (-4,000), soymeal (-6,000), soyoil (-1,500) and CBOT wheat (-4,000) contracts.

Corn

Corn prices faded more than 1.25% lower on Thursday with warmer, drier weather forecasts will help more planters get into the fields in the coming days and weeks. May futures dropped 8.75 cents to $6.44, with July futures down 6.75 cents to $6.2075.

Corn basis bids climbed 20 cents higher at an Illinois ethanol plant while fading 3 cents lower at an Ohio elevator and holding steady elsewhere across the central U.S. on Thursday.

Old crop corn exports moved 20% higher week-over-week but were still down 26% from the prior four-week average, with 49.1 million bushels. New crop sales chipped in another 1.0 million bushels for a total tally of 50.1 million bushels. That was near the middle of trade estimates, which ranged between 31.5 million and 68.9 million bushels. Cumulative totals for the 2022/23 marketing year are still substantially below last year’s pace, with 802.3 million bushels.

Corn export shipments shifted 8% above the prior four-week average to 44.8 million bushels. Mexico, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Guatemala were the top five destinations.

Brazil’s Anec estimates that the country’s corn exports will only reach 8.2 million bushels in April, which would be a year-over-year decline of 78%, if realized. Anec also expects to see wheat exports at around 7.6 million bushels this month.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 271,649 contracts, which was slightly lower than Thursday’s final count of 288,521.

Soybeans

Soybean prices followed corn lower on expectations for improved Midwestern forecasts later in April, which will help planting progress. May futures lost 17.5 cents to $14.9350, with July futures down 14.25 cents to $14.6350.

The rest of the soy complex was mixed. Soymeal futures shifted nearly 0.75% higher, while soyoil futures sank more than 1% lower today.

Soybean basis bids dropped 4 cents at an Ohio elevator while holding steady elsewhere across the central U.S. on Thursday.

Soybean sales were disappointing, with old crop sales down 42% below the prior four-week average to 5.7 million bushels. New crop sales reductions of 1.8 million bushels, leaving total sales at just 3.9 million bushels last week. That was below the entire range of trade guesses, which came in between 7.3 million and 29.4 million bushels. Cumulative sales for the 2022/23 marketing year are still slightly ahead of last year’s pace, with 1.656 billion bushels.

Soybean export shipments tracked 26% below the prior four-week average to 20.5 million bushels. China, Indonesia, Germany, Mexico and Japan were the top five destinations.

Brazil’s Anec estimates that the country’s soybean exports will climb to 504.7 million bushels in April. That would be a year-over-year increase of 21%, if realized. Brazilian soymeal exports are also expected to gather year-over-year gains this month, with an estimated 1.856 million metric tons.

Meantime, Brazil’s Safras & Mercado is now estimating that the country’s 2022/23 soybean production will reach a record-breaking 5.698 billion bushels – one of the most bullish estimates out there right now. It’s also 1.7% higher than the group’s prior forecast of 5.601 billion bushels.

Naomi Blohm, senior market adviser with Stewart Peterson, has described soybean ending stocks so far in 2023 as “snug.” Will the April WASDE report continue to show historically tight stocks? “Time will tell, but a number under 200 million bushels would be quite supportive to old crop soybean futures prices and cash prices for the short term,” she says. Analysts are anticipating that ending stocks will indeed fall below that benchmark, with an average trade guess of 198 million bushels. For more of Blohm’s latest analysis, click here.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 238,549 contracts, sliding slightly below Wednesday’s final count of 262,816.

Wheat

Wheat prices were mixed following an uneven round of technical maneuvering on Thursday. May Chicago SRW futures dropped 6.5 cents to $6.7550, while May Kansas City HRW futures added 5 cents to $8.6650 and May MGEX spring wheat futures picked up 0.25 cents to $8.7375.

Combined old and new crop wheat sales reached 7.5 million bushels last week. That was toward the lower end of analyst estimates, which ranged between 3.7 million and 22.0 million bushels. Cumulative sales for the 2022/23 marketing year are now trending slightly below last year’s pace, with 566.1 million bushels.

Wheat export shipments were 39% below the prior four-week average, with 7.3 million bushels. China, the Philippines, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Colombia were the top five destinations.

Egypt purchased 22.0 million bushels of wheat sourced from Russia in an international tender that recently closed. The grain is divided into two equal consignments that are both for shipment in May.

Japan purchased 2.9 million bushels of food-quality wheat from the United States, Canada and Australia in a regular tender that closed on Thursday. Around one-third (35%) of the total was sourced from the U.S. The grain is for shipment in June.

China will hold an auction to sell another 1.5 million bushels of its imported state wheat reserves on April 12. The country has offered a series of other wheat auctions in recent months in an attempt to boost local supplies and cool high prices.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 115,305 CBOT contracts, firming slightly above Wednesday’s final count of 111,201.

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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