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Corn higher, boosted by USDA numbers

Soybeans were mixed, with nearby contracts weak and deferred months firm, still ending the week modestly lower. The USDA sees 2024 U.S. soybean planted area at 86.5 million acres, close to expectations and 3% higher than 2023, with quarterly stocks also up on the year. That larger stocks figure was partially due to slow farmer selling. The acreage figure will probably change a little bit, depending on weather and changes in price over the next several weeks. The trade continues to monitor development weather and harvest activity in South America. The USDA’s next round of supply and demand estimates is out April 11th, the same day as CONAB’s new outlook for Brazil. Soybean meal was mixed on bear spreading and bean oil was up on a rally in crude oil. Soybean export sales were below a week ago at 9.7 million bushels, continuing to reflect the dominance of Brazil. China and Germany were the leading buyers for 2023/24. Unknown destinations canceled on old crop, while also buying half as much in new crop U.S. beans. Soybean meal export sales were down on the week and soybean oil sales were up. Drier weather in parts of South America should help Argentina’s crop dry out and boost harvest activity in Brazil.

Corn was higher on commercial and technical buying, pulling contracts to a firm weekly finish. Corn planted area is pegged at 90 million acres, down 5%, and while stocks were above a year ago, they were lower than expected. Those numbers were viewed as a surprise by the trade, with the acreage total implying tighter new crop stocks, with the first projection out in May, and the quarterly supply likely leading to a lower old crop stocks guess in April. The quarterly stocks number being up on the year can be partially linked to slow farmer selling. 2023/24 export sales were a little above the previous week at 47.5 million bushels, primarily to Mexico and Canada. Just over the halfway point, U.S. corn shipments remain on pace to meet USDA projections for the current marketing year. New crop sales of 5 million bushels were to Mexico. In South America, second crop corn in central Brazil should benefit expected showers, which could move into northern growing areas, while Argentina could generally see a drier near-term pattern, not ideal for developing crops, but that will allow some of the wetter areas to dry out a little and help harvest activity. Some stress is probable for the second crop in southern Brazil due to drier weather. Commodity markets are closed Friday in observance of Good Friday and will remain closed this weekend for Easter.

The wheat complex was mixed, with Chicago and Kansas City up and Minneapolis down on the day and the three U.S. pits also mixed on the week. The spring wheat acreage guess was above expectations and higher than 2023, while stocks were larger than analysts’ estimates. That increase in spring wheat did offset the decline in winter wheat acreage a little, but overall U.S. wheat acres will still be smaller than last year. The USDA’s weekly crop progress and condition numbers resume April 1st. 2023/24 wheat export sales were 12.5 million bushels, mainly to Taiwan and South Korea, while 2024/25 sales were 7.8 million bushels, with South Korea leading the pack. The new marketing year for wheat starts June 1st. Russia and Ukraine continue to dominate the export market thanks to a price advantage. Australia’s winter wheat growing areas remain largely dry, for now, ahead of planting. More precipitation is in the forecast for the southern Plains next week, while the near-term precipitation outlook is a little less certain for spring wheat growing areas of the northern U.S. Plains and Canada. The European Commission pegs the 2024/25 European Union soft wheat crop at 120.8 million tons, compared to 125.6 million in 2023/24 due to wet weather delaying planting last fall and lower-than-a-year-ago crop conditions in France.

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