Early Call On Chicago

29/03/11 -- The overnight grains were mixed, but mostly a little higher in quiet trade whilst the market treads water waiting for Thursday's USDA reports.

Beans finished the Globex session mostly around 3-5c higher, with wheat up 3-4c and corn down 1/2c to up 3c.

Right now all we have to go on is trade guesses for Thursday. For corn most of those centre around 91-92 million acres, with the average guess at just under the 92 million mark - the second largest planted area since WWII. Last season was 88.2 million, but just about every newswire you read reports of an increase of this kind of magnitude being "essential" to replenish dwindling US stocks. Essential, so long as the blenders tax credit remains in place past the end of the year that is.

Some of those acres may get "stolen" from soybeans, of which US farmers planted 77.4 million acres last year, according to some. Others think that soybean planted area will also increase this year. That gives us a fairly wide range of trade estimates ranging from 75.3 million to 78.5 million acres, with the average guess just under 77 million. All wheat acres are less contentious, as most of the crop is already in the ground, pegged at 57.3 million.

Thursday also brings the quarterly stocks report, although trade guesstimates on these are in a much tighter range, with corn estimated at 6.7 billion bu, beans at 1.3 billion and wheat at 1.4 billion.

Aside from that we have crude oil weaker as Libyan rebels seem to be gaining the upper hand, not without considerable outside assistance it has to be said. The dollar is also a bit firmer, which is slightly negative for grains.

We also of course have the unconfirmed "China bought stacks more US corn over the weekend" stories to contend with.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session don't show a lot of change: beans up 3-5c, corn flat to up 2c and wheat 3-4c higher.