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USDA reports cast shadow on corn prices

Acreage increase and high stocks push corn futures down


The US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) June reports on acreage and grain stocks brought unwelcome news for corn producers. The reports indicated a larger-than-expected increase in corn acreage and record stock levels, causing corn futures prices to tumble.

Corn acreage estimates came in at 91.5 million acres, exceeding expectations and surpassing last year's figures. This increase was primarily driven by Western Corn Belt states like Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota. Despite this national rise, Michigan and Wisconsin witnessed a decrease in planted corn acreage.

Adding to the corn market's woes were the high corn stock levels reported at 4.99 billion bushels. On-farm stocks reached their highest level since 1988. While this may seem concerning, these stocks are still significantly lower than the record highs seen in the 1980s.

The combination of increased acreage and high stocks sent a shockwave through the corn market. December corn futures prices plummeted by 13 cents (3%) on the day of the report and have continued to decline throughout July.

Soybean markets displayed a mixed response to the USDA reports. Planted acreage estimates were slightly lower than expected, but year-over-year acreage remains positive. Soybean stocks also saw an increase, although prices held relatively steady.

Cotton, on the other hand, experienced a surprise surge. Acreage estimates jumped significantly, with Texas leading the increase. Cotton futures prices reacted positively to this news, showing a slight rise.

Looking ahead, the focus shifts to the potential impact of summer weather on crops. The historic flooding in the Western Corn Belt, which occurred after the USDA's surveys, will likely affect the final harvest figures. The July WASDE report from the USDA might be the first to incorporate estimates of flood damage.

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Kim Anderson, OSU Extension grain marketing specialist, sifts through the data from the USDA’s recent crop planted acres report for 2024.