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Soybeans, corn up ahead of holiday weekend

Soybeans were higher on commercial and technical buying, closing out a higher week with nearby contracts back above $16. Rain was in the forecast for Argentina and southern Brazil in the coming week, but coverage was uncertain. Production in Paraguay is expected to be well below year ago levels. The USDA’s next look at supply and demand numbers is in the upcoming Ag Outlook Forum, while CONAB’s updated outlook for Brazil is out March 10th. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange held its soybean production estimate for Argentina unchanged at 42 million tons, compared to 43.1 million a year ago. Unknown destinations bought 198,000 tons of mostly new crop U.S. beans Friday morning, with 66,000 tons for 2021/22 and 132,000 tons for 2021/22. That was the third business day in a row with an announced sale for a total of 450,000 tons, 186,000 of that old crop and 264,000 of that new crop. Those sales to unknown might end up being delivered to China. At least to some degree, the lower production estimates for South America have influenced this recent uptick in purchases. Soybean meal was lower and bean oil was higher on the adjustment of product spreads. India has reportedly contracted to buy 100,000 tons of U.S. soybean oil due to record palm oil prices and uncertainties about production in South America.

Corn was modestly higher on commercial and technical buying, ensuring a week-to-week gain. Corn was watching weather in South America, along with the second crop corn planting pace in Brazil. That planting pace is well ahead of average, thanks to the faster than normal soybean harvest pace. For Argentina, the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange says 1.7% of that nation’s corn crop has been harvested, with production at 51 million tons, steady with the last guess, but 1.5 million less than last year. The trade is also looking for any signals on changes to the U.S. acreage mix. The USDA’s Ag Outlook Forum February 24th and 25th should offers some early indications, with the prospective planting report out March 31st, in addition to quarterly grain stocks. Ethanol futures were unchanged.

The wheat complex was mixed, with Chicago mostly weak and Kansas City and Minneapolis higher, and the three U.S. pits mostly higher on the week. The trade continues to monitor the tensions between Russia and Ukraine. The situation continues to be volatile, with a number of unknowns and conflicting reports out of the region. Some movement and shipping delays out of the Black Sea region are being reported. Near-term forecasts have more generally dry weather in the U.S. Plains. Parts of the region have recently received rain and snow and could see more this coming week, but broad swaths of the region are locked in drought or near drought conditions and could remain that way into spring. That’s impacting winter wheat quality and could limit spring wheat acreage in the northern and northwestern U.S. Plains into Canada. Egypt reportedly bought 180,000 tons of wheat from Romania.

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