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Down start to April for soybeans, corn, wheat

Soybeans were lower on fund and technical selling. Contracts were up early, but could not follow through, following losses in bean meal instead of the gains in bean oil. Soybean oil was supported by global strength in palm oil. Brazil’s harvest is around 75% complete, with some key areas close to wrapping up. The USDA and CONAB will release their updated production projections for Brazil April 11th. Brazil continues to hold a big edge over the U.S. on the export market. Soybean export inspections were down on the week and the year, mainly to China and Mexico, with the 2023/24 pace remaining significantly slower than 2022/23. The USDA says 194 million bushels of soybeans were crushed in February 2024, below pre-report expectations and down 1 million from January, but up 17 million from February 2023.

Corn was lower on profit taking and technical selling. Corn gave back part of Thursday’s post-USDA report gains, watching U.S. conditions ahead of widespread planting. The USDA says 2% of U.S. corn is planted, compared to the five-year average of 1%, with only small portion of that progress in the Corn Belt. Near-term forecasts for Brazil are mixed, favoring development conditions for the second crop in northern over southern growing areas. The USDA says 441.535 million bushels of corn were used for ethanol production in February, up slightly on the month and 11% on the year, with DDGS production of 1,811,166 tons, an increase of 3% from the previous month and 16% from a year ago. Export inspections were up from the week before and last year, staying ahead of the pace needed to meet projections for the 2023/24 marketing year. The primary destinations were Mexico and Japan.

The wheat complex was lower on fund and technical selling, along with the strength in the dollar during the session. The first official national winter wheat condition rating of the season was expected to be about 60% good to excellent. For winter wheat, 56% of the crop is in good to excellent condition, compared to 28% this time last year, with 4% headed, compared to 2% on average. For spring wheat, 1% of the crop is planted, matching the usual pace. The trade is also monitoring escalations in the Russia/Ukraine war. There have been more attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure by Russia, which could impact grain movement out of those ports. Russia and Ukraine continue have some of the most competitively priced wheat on the global market. Wheat export inspections were up on the week and the year, but below 500,000 tons, with China and Thailand topping the list. Egypt’s supply ministry says it will buy 3.5 million tons of domestically produced wheat from mid-April through mid-August. The USDA’s attaché for India sees 2024/25 wheat production at a record 112.5 million tons.

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