USDA continues to surprise markets with November WASDE
Corn growers may not get more than US$4.00 per bushel
By Diego Flammini
Just when commodity markets seem to be moving in a consistent direction, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) throws another curveball, according to Moe Agostino, chief commodity strategist with Farms.com Risk Management.
“The year 2017 has been the year of surprises when it comes to the USDA,” Agostino said after a live web analysis of the USDA’s November World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. “And this month has been no exception.”
Pre-report estimates suggested American corn production would hover around 14.3 billion bushels with an average yield of 172 bushels per acre.
But the USDA said total corn production was 14.5 billion bushels, with an average yield of about 175 bushels per acre.
And those increases will have financial implications on farmers’ bottom lines, Agostino said.
“This year, the (market speculators) said the (price) high was about US$4.17 per bushel with an ending stocks of (2.3 billion bushels), but we’re already above that now,” he said. “Even with a spring rally and a weather risk premium, (farmers) may not get much above US$4.00 (per bushel).”
Corn ending stocks are about 2.4 billion bushels and the price range is between US$2.80 and US$3.60 per bushel, according to the November WASDE.
When it comes to soybeans, Agostino’s projections suggest producers could sell their crops for upwards of US$10.40 per bushel.
But farmers are going to need some market assistance for that to happen, he says.
“(To get that price), farmers needed an average yield below 49.5 bushels per acre and ending stocks below 400 million bushels,” he said.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get it (in the November WASDE report). Could we see it in the future? Maybe, but we’ll need another bullish report from the USDA to push the prices higher. I think the robust demand is already priced in.”
The average soybean yield was 49.5 bushels per acre and ending stocks are at about 425 million bushels, according to the USDA. And the price per bushel ranges from US$8.45 to US$10.15, according to the WASDE report.
And with respect to wheat, farmers may have opportunities to benefit from a lower yield than what’s currently being reported.
“I’m hearing from investors that they don’t believe the wheat crop in the U.S. was as big as it was,” he said. “If we can give (market speculators) a reason to rally over the next few months, wheat prices could go up.”
Average wheat yield was 46.3 bushels per acre, according to the WASDE report. And the price range is between US$4.40 and US$4.80 per bushel.
The final USDA WASDE report will be released on Dec. 12.
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