Weekly Crop Commentary - 3/31/2023

Mar 31, 2023

Ed Nienaber 
Vice President, Grain Division

We find ourselves trading a dime higher on corn and fifty cents on the plus side on beans for the week. I am reporting as we approach the noon hour and one of the major crop reports of the season. While most are focused on the planting intentions, with estimates at 90.8 million corn and 88.2 million bean acres, grain stocks may be the market mover. Trade continues to see decent export sales on both corn and beans as we move into April. As the conflict continues in Eastern Asia, and we see production issues in Argentina, world available stocks to the marketplace may become the support this spring and summer for grain prices. The cash basis continues to trade in a steady pattern with ample bushels finding their way to end-users. As the cash inversion in the futures market continues to grow, bushels continue to flow. It is going to be interesting to see how we bridge the gap to next fall. I will let my colleagues fill you in on all the new USDA numbers as we move into the weekend. We are a week away from Good Friday and Easter weekend. Commodity Markets are closed next Friday. Have a great week, and Happy Easter! 

Wes Bahan
Vice President, Grain Division

Good afternoon, and welcome to the end of March. It came in like a lamb and is going out like one, also, as far as temperatures go. We got our quarterly grain stocks report today. They were in the range of estimates but on the lower side. Regardless, we are looking at 350 million bushels less of corn and 250 million bushels less of beans from the same time last year. With the recent Chinese demand for our corn, the May – July spread is really getting more inverted. They booked another 0.518 MMT of old crop corn again this week, taking the 3 week total to 3.27 MMT, or 128.8 million bushels. If we look at the structure of river basis, this corn will be shipping in May, which is also making that spread invert wider on the lower stocks news. With the bounce back in the futures market, we have seen cash basis for corn and beans weaken up a bit this week, as the processors are getting ample supplies.

Haylee VanScoy
Director of Grain Purchasing

Month end and report day all wrapped into one! What fun! Lower than expected quarterly stocks kept corn afloat today after printing nearly 92 mil intended corn acres, 91.996 to be exact. Beans saw a strong move upward, with July futures surpassing the 20 day moving average, and now nearing the 100 day moving average, at $14.85 SN. Soybean quarterly stocks came in below average trade guesses at 1.685 bil bu vs. 1.742 average. Prospective plantings followed suit with 87.505 mil bean acres compared to 88.242 that was estimated. Winter wheat acreage, however, came in on the high side of estimates at 37.505 mil acres vs. 36.256 average. As for on-farm stocks in Ohio, we’re looking at 62% vs. 57% last year on corn, and 50% vs. 42% last year on beans. If you still have old crop to price, let’s be taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves. Hope you all don’t blow away again this weekend. Stay safe and dry. Have a wonderful weekend!

Lou Baughman
Grain Merchandiser, Kenton (Region 1)

In like a lamb, out like a lion: This seems to include the markets. Before the report, beans were up about 14 cents. July corn also was up near a nickel. With all the flash sales to China, analysts think ending stocks will have the bigger change in numbers. Ding, ding, and they are off! Beans jumped 35 cents, and corn jumped 15 cents as a knee jerk reaction then settled back to about what was trading pre-report.  USDA stocks came in as the average expected estimates for the 3 commodities. The prospective planting was on the high range for corn at 91.996 million acres. Beans were more on the lower end at 87.505 million acres. Wheat was on the high range at 49.855 million acres. Beans hung in there with the July futures still up 28 cents at the time of this writing.  Have a good weekend.

Will Gase
Grain Merchandiser, Upper Sandusky (Region 2
Happy Friday! It is yet another rainy weekend here in Ohio. The big end-of-March USDA report came out today. I won’t touch on it, as I am sure others will. It did, however, boost soybeans back up, pushing us up roughly 60 cents since last Friday for old crop. New crop is up more than 30 cents since last Friday, and it might be time to think about locking in some bushels for the fall with these price jumps. It feels like I am beating a dead horse, but getting target orders in for prices you want is important as we move into planting season and start to see futures prices change with weather patterns. 

Corn export sales continue to come in with China buying corn all but 2 days in the last 2 weeks. Officials are saying that China is attempting to build up their reserves. This being in case the USA and China get into a disagreement and we set sanctions on them. At this point, anything is possible between 2 of the powerhouse countries. 

Next week starts the month of April, which means we are that much closer to planting. Have a great weekend everyone, and stay dry!

Steve Bricher
Grain Operation Manager, Urbana (Region 3)

It is another wet Friday morning and looks to be a windy Saturday. We have the Final Four in men’s and women’s basketball this weekend. Baseball opening day was Thursday. I am not a huge baseball fan, but I think the new rule changes will help make the game more watchable this year. I have been a Reds fan my whole life, so I am not holding out much hope when their 3rd highest paid player on the roster retired 13 years ago. If you don’t know, Google “Ken Griffey Jr. contract.”

I am writing before the market report releases today, so what I have written for today may be completely incorrect. Let’s see how good I am at guessing what the government is going to say. My guess is we are somewhere between 91 and 92 million acres of corn and 87 to 89 million acres of soybeans. We will have to see how good my crystal ball has been.

Corn and soybean have staged a nice recovery this week, and we see continued buying from China. This has lead both markets to nice bounces this week. We are not back to the prices we saw a month ago, but at least we are back above 6.00 and 14.00. From here on out, it will be all about this year’s crop: What do we plant, and when do we get it in the ground? The weather over the next 8 weeks is going to be the biggest determining factor in what our markets do. With new crop prices where they are, this will not be a layup as to what you plant. If we have a wet spring and get delayed, soybeans will look as profitable as corn does today. We will just have to see what mother nature brings us over the next 8 weeks, and how the markets react to every 6 to 10 and 8 to 14 day forecast. I would be a continued seller of old crop if this market continues to rise. There is no reason to have all your old crop in the bin and very little new crop sold. You had a good crop last year. Don’t try to hit a home run waiting on a weather rally this year. A weather rally, or other market news, can be used to sell your 2023 crop.

Lisa Warne
Grain Merchandiser, Marysville (Region 4)

Good afternoon. The day the market has been waiting for has arrived. The USDA Prospective Planting and Quarterly Stocks report was released about a half hour ago as I type. Soybeans come in with the more bullish numbers on both reports at 87.5 million acres and stocks at 1.7 billion bushels, giving us a nice rally to end the month. Corn was slightly more bearish with acres near 92.0 million, but stocks more bullish at 7.4 billion bushels. These acreage figures give us a starting point for the 2023 crop year’s balance sheet. Now we turn to weather on getting the crop in the ground and growing.
While wheat is ending the week in the red, it did recover enough earlier in the week to still be nearly 30 cents above the contract lows from last week. The All Wheat acres and stocks figures were both on the bearish side.
I’d like to thank those who came out to our Grain Market Outlook Meetings. It was great to see all of you at the Plain City meeting this week. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future meetings, let us know. Have a great weekend!

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