CBOT Early Call

The overnight grains closed mixed, with beans a cent or so higher, wheat down two and corn down 2-3 cents.

The dollar is higher and crude oil is down.

The USDA have today announced a sale of 106,000 MT of new crop soybeans to unknown.

The trade is gearing up for the March 31st planting intentions report with private forecasters now starting to emerge. Most pundits expect a sizable increase in corn acres as demand is expected to remain strong from the ethanol sector.

Hopes are fairly high that the maximum inclusion rate in gasoline will be increased from the existing 10% limit sometime this summer.

The jury is still out on soybean acres though, some calling for a drop due to a switch into corn, and others forecasting an increase there too, due to lower wheat acres.

Allendale say corn acres will increase by 3.7 million, with beans up 1.7 million and wheat down 5.7 million. Informa are out mid session today, last month they pegged corn up 3.1 million and beans up 400,000 acres.

I'd tend to side more with Allendale, and think that we will see a fairly sharp increase in soybean area as well as corn.

Of course these are only intentions, and there is a long way to go yet before we have the final numbers. Planting of corn is underway in Delta states like Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, with estimates of around 5-10% complete.

Also out on March 31st are the quarterly stocks numbers. If there is to be a bullish surprise in those then it is maybe most likely to be for beans given the torrid pace of exports over the last few months.

A few little niggles are starting to appear for wheat as winter plantings start to emerge from dormancy. Crop conditions in Ukraine look less than ideal, with similarities in Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany.

In the US, the weather is far from co-operating either. The no longer dormant wheat crop will see 1-8 inches of snow in Kansas and parts of Oklahoma, along with 30-40mph northerly winds today and tomorrow, says QT Weather's Allen Motew.

That might get a few bottoms twitching amongst the large spec shorts this afternoon.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn called 1 to 2 lower; soybeans called steady to 2 higher; wheat called 1 to 2 lower.