U.S. acreage and stock reports set table for spring markets

Market Focus

Highlights

  • U.S. soybean acreage gains at the expense of corn and wheat
  • Soybean futures have declined to their lowest level since summer 2016, but oversold conditions appearing
  • Is the groundwork being laid for a basing wheat market?

Capping off a bearish month for grain and oilseed markets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its much anticipated Prospective Plantings and U.S. Quarterly Grain Stock reports on March 31.

According to USDA, American growers are expected to plant 90 million acres of corn this year, down four per cent from last year, while soybean acreage will grow to 89.5 million planted acres, up seven per cent from a year ago. If realized, U.S. soybean planted acres will be record large as bean acreage continues to encroach on King Corn.

U.S. corn stocks at March 1 were pegged at 8.62 billion bushels, up 10 per cent from a year ago. Stocks are higher despite indicated disappearance (usage) from December 2016 to February 2017 pegged at 3.77 billion bushels, up from 3.41 billion bushels over the same period last year.

If realized, U.S. soybean planted acres will be record large as bean acreage continues to encroach on King Corn.

U.S. soybean stocks were pegged at 1.73 billion bushels, up 13 per cent from last year. Usage from December to February was 1.16 billion bushels, surprisingly down two per cent from a year ago.

Following are key numbers from the USDA's March 1 U.S. Quarterly Grain Stockpiles and 2017 U.S. Prospective Planting reports Friday and how the government's estimates compared to analysts' forecasts in a Wall Street Journal survey.

U.S. Stockpiles on March 1, 2017 (million bushels)

  Friday's
Estimates
Average Range USDA
Mar 2016
USDA
Dec 2016
Corn 8,616 8,551 8,280 - 8,900 7,822 12,386
Soybeans 1,735 1,679 1,627 - 1,800 1,531 2,898
Wheat 1,655 1,622 1,417 - 1,721 1,372 2,077


US Grain, Soybean Planting 2017 (million acres)

  Friday's
Estimates
Average Range USDA
2016
Corn 89.996 91.034 89.7 - 92.5 94.004 
Soybeans 89.482 88.128 85.9 - 90.2 83.433
All Wheat 46.059 46.059 44.2 - 48.2 50.154
Winter Wheat 32.747 32.388 32.0 - 33.0 36.137
Spring Wheat 11.308 11.270 9.9 - 12.2 11.605
Durum Wheat 2.004 2.145 2.0 - 2.5 2.412


Soybeans

The soybean market has taken a beating through the month of March in the lead up to this bearishly construed USDA report, almost exclusively “red” candles on the price charts through the whole month, probably to the point of becoming technically oversold as of this week. Futures have been pressured by the larger than expected old crop U.S. bean stocks, record large U.S. new crop acreage expectations and a steady upward creep in 2017 South American soy crop estimates.

Soybean futures this week traded to their lowest levels since last summer before seeing come corrective bounce mid-week.

Corn

At 90 million acres, 2017 U.S. corn prospective planting will be down four million acres from 2016 and at the low end of trade expectations, but still two per cent higher than 2015 planted acres.

Looking at stocks, the number was record large for March 1 at 8.616 billion bushels. But with 10-year average usage plugged in for the second half of the market year, this implies year-end stocks remain in line with the current USDA estimate of 2.320 billion bushels so should already be baked into current prices. This is not a bullish result certainly, but shouldn’t be a bearish surprise either.

Wheat

U.S. farmers are projected to plant 46.1 million acres of wheat, down eight per cent from last year though spot on with average trade ideas. If realized, it would mark the lowest wheat acreage since the U.S. began keeping records in 1919.

U.S. winter wheat acres are pegged at 32.7 million acres, down nine per cent from last year and the second-lowest winter wheat acreage on record. U.S. spring wheat is projected at 11.3 million acres, down 300,000 acres and the lowest spring wheat planting since 1972. Durum acres were pegged at two million acres, down 400,000 from last year.

U.S. all-wheat stocks were projected at 1.66 billion bushels, up 21 per cent from a year ago, and slightly above trade ideas.

The trade will soon begin pondering a likely decline in 2017 major exporter wheat production, although markets remain hamstrung by lingering record large old crop carryovers that will cushion the effect of a decline in major exporter new crop wheat production for some time yet. Without a real production threat in the year ahead, global 2017/18 wheat stocks will see some degree of trimming, but nonetheless remain at historically high levels.

That said, the groundwork is being laid for a basing wheat market.

Mike Jubinville of Pro Farmer Canada offers information on commodity markets and marketing strategies. Call 204-654-4290 or visit www.pfcanada.com to find out more about his services.

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