Chicago Grain Market Closing Commentary - Thursday

21/08/14 -- Weather, from Martell Crop Projections: Corn and soybeans will benefit from heavy soaking rain this week but delayed crop development is still a worry. Strong thunderstorms were rolling across the Upper Midwest this morning causing heavy rain in Minnesota and northern Iowa. Yesterday a rash of thunderstorms moved through central Iowa improving soil moisture. Heavy soaking rain was needed after a 30-day stretch of dryness previously. Soybeans especially need soaking rain to boost pod filling, as August rainfall is the key indicator for the yield. The highest soybean yields on record were achieved from very heavy August rainfall. The Midwest forecast remains wet with expectations for 1.75–3 inches of rainfall the next several days. These would be recurring showers in a trough of low pressure from central Nebraska to northwest Wisconsin. Some farms may receive 4-5 inches of rainfall with strong thunderstorms, more than the August monthly rainfall allotment.

Soycomplex: Beans remain trading in a "game of two halves" as a football pundit might say. Old crop tightness due to strong demand for both beans and meal continues to support the front-end. The promise of a huge US harvest to come, likely followed up by record South American plantings weighs on the deferred positions. Reuters reported that members of Brazil's largest co-operative plan to increase their soybean planted area by 8.4% this year. New crop Nov 14 beans made a fresh contract low. Day three of the ProFarmer crop tour hit Illinois, finding an average bean pod count of 1,299.17 versus 1,115.97 a year ago and the 3 year average of 1,085.35 pods. In Western Iowa the pod count was 1,091-1,224 versus 802.98-1,101.49 a year ago and the 3 year average of 962-1,091 pods. The final day of the tour concludes in Minnesota and the rest of Iowa today. Final data from the tour is due out on Friday. Chinese customs data showed that the country imported almost 7.5 MMT of soybeans in July, taking Jan/Jul imports to 41.7 MMT, a 20% hike compared to the same period in 2013. Of that total almost 21 MMT came from Brazil, and a further 17.3 MMT from the US. Weekly export sales came in at negative 89,600 MT on old crop and a net 1,420,600 MT on new crop, the latter being primarily for China (947,900 MT). Meal sales were 99,800 MT on old crop and 78,600 MT on new crop. The 2013/14 marketing year finishes at the end of August. The US has now shipped 44.2 MMT of soybeans this season, with outstanding sales of a further 1.85 MMT. The current USDA forecast is for net exports of 44.6 MMT in 2013/14. Lanworth estimated US 2014 soybean yields at a record 46.7 bu/acre versus a previous estimate of 46.4 bu/acre, and 1.3 bu/acre more than the where the USDA currently sit. Lanworth now put the US 2014 soybean crop at 3.855 billion bushels versus a previous estimate of 3.806 billion and the USDA's 3.816 billion. Stats Canada estimated the 2014 canola crop there ar 13.9 MMT versus the average trade guess of 14.5 MMT and production of nearly 18 MMT a year ago. They see the Canadian soybean crop at 5.9 MMT versus the average trade estimate of 6.1 MMT, although still significantly higher than 5.2 MMT a year ago. Sep 14 Soybeans closed at $11.36 1/4, up 16 1/2 cents; Nov 14 Soybeans closed at $10.38 1/4, up 1/4 cent; Sep 14 Soybean Meal closed at $413.80, up $11.20; Sep 14 Soybean Oil closed at 32.78, down 8 points.

Corn: The corn market closed a cent or two higher. Despite new crop soybeans setting contract lows, the pull to plant beans instead of corn or wheat is still quite strong. The same Brazilian co-op that said they'd be increasing their soybean plantings for 2014/15 also said that they'd reduce the area given over to corn by around 9%. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange also said that Argentine farmers would reduce their corn area later this year by around 10% to 3.2 million hectares. They estimated that the 2013/14 Argentine corn harvest was now 94.2% complete at close to 24 MMT, leaving their final production forecast unchanged at 25 MMT. Day three of the ProFarmer crop tour entered Illinois, where the average corn yield this year was estimated at a record 196.96 bu/acre versus 170.48 bu/acre a year ago and the 3 year average of 149.36 bu/acre. In Western Iowa they found an average corn yield of 177.48-180.90 bu/acre versus 160.12–175.65 bu/acre a year ago and the 3 year average of 146.77-170.72 bu/acre. The Chinese insatiable appetite for soybean imports doesn't extend to corn. They only imported 86,369 MT of that last month, soybean imports were more than 86 times higher than that! China's Jan/Jul corn import total is now 1.46 MMT, down more than 8% versus the same period in 2013. America's corn exports to China are down 37% so far this year. Weekly export sales came in at just under 100 TMT of old crop, along with 719,300 MT of new crop. Old crop shipments to date are just under 44.9 MMT, with a further 3.85 MMT of outstanding sales. The USDA forecast for the season is for exports of 49 MMT, which now clearly looks unlikely, leaving a larger than anticipated ending stocks situation to carry over into what looks like being a huge 2014/15 production year. Lanworth estimated US 2014 corn yields at a record large 174.5 bu/acre, even if that is down a little on their previous estimate of 174.8 bu/acre. The USDA are more than 7 bu/acre lower than that at 167.4 bu/acre. Lanworth put production this year at 14.734 billion bushels versus a previous estimate of 14.766 billion and the USDA's 14.032 billion. Commodity Weather Group estimated US corn yields at 171.5 bu/acre versus a previous estimate of 171.0 bu/acre. Stats Canada estimated the corn crop there this year at 11.43 MMT, just below the average trade guess of 11.5 MMT and up slightly on 11.3 MMT a year ago. Sep 14 Corn closed at $3.62, up 2 1/2 cents; Dec 14 Corn closed at $3.68 3/4, up 1 1/4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed higher. Stats Canada pegged the Canadian all wheat crop below expectations of 28.5 MMT at 27.7 MMT, and a 26% reduction on last year's record. Weekly export sales weren't great at 209,200 MT, being down 38 percent from the previous week and 62 percent below the prior 4-week average. That was the smallest weekly figure of the marketing year so far. That began on June 1. Significantly Brazil cancelled 58,800 MT now that they've re-introduced the 10% import duty on wheat shipped in from outside the Mercosur trade group. Japan bought 146,858 MT of milling wheat for Sept-Nov shipment. The breakdown was: 37,885 MT of western white US wheat; 20,480 MT of HRW US wheat; 31,421 MT of dark northern spring US wheat; 26,657 MT of Canadian western red spring wheat; 30,415 MT of Australian white wheat. China said that it had imported 116,718 MT of wheat in July, down 62.2% from a year ago. Jan/Jul imports are now 2.67 MMT, which is up 56.6% from a year ago. Of that total 782,527MT has come from the US, up 38% from a year ago. They are also importing large volumes of barley, with the Jan/Jun total at 3.2 MMT, up 167% from a year ago. The Argentine Ag Ministry estimated the 2014/15 Argentina wheat area at 4.5 million hectares, unchanged from their previous estimate and versus the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange estimate of 4.1 million. Plantings last year were only 3.65 million ha. The Ukraine Ag Ministry estimated their 2014/15 exportable grain surplus at 30.0 MMT or more, saying that there was no need to restrict milling wheat exports, effectively because the market would regulate itself. Russia said that they'd now harvested 68.5 MMT of grain so far this year off less than 49% of the planned area. That total includes 45.1 MMT of wheat off barely more than 50% of plan, plus a further 14.7 MMT of barley off 58.5% of plan. Russian grain exports are flying, with those in July being a record for that particular month, and those in August now forecast to be the highest for any month ever. Reuters reported that France are importing milling wheat from Lithuania and the UK. Strategie Grains increased their estimate for the proportion of French crop wheat crop that will cut the milling wheat mustard to 64% from 62% previously, although still well behind 88% a year ago. Sep 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.46 1/4, up 6 3/4 cents; Sep 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.22, up 3 1/4 cents; Sep 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.16, up 5 3/4 cents.