As traders prepare for the calendar to flip to 2019, some analysts are excited to see what the corn market will do.

After closing the year with strong exports — posting net sales of 1.974 million tons for the week of Dec. 7-13, including 1.339 mt to Mexico — John Payne, analyst for Daniels Trading, said the U.S. has been able to carve out its spot in the corn world.

“The U.S. has essentially cornered the ag export market in corn because there isn’t really anything available from Brazil or Argentina right now,” Payne said. “They are low on acreage because they are pushing to soybeans due to the tariffs. We are in a little bit of a perfect storm, or could be. … It’s going to put a lot of pressure on the U.S. to produce.”

That pressure will be to make sure supplies — and planted acres — stay up in the U.S. in 2019.

With trade uncertainties, soybeans have been at the forefront, and while there have been a few export sales to China in the past couple of weeks, traders are concerned there isn’t enough demand to boost the markets.

Mike Zuzolo of Global Commodity Analytics said one of the main reasons there is a lack of optimism has to do with issues on the livestock side of things.

“The biggest reason is the African swine fever,” Zuzolo said. “That issue has become more entrenched in the trade, and the fear of lost demand because of African swine fever. I think in general the trade believes it’s being underreported by the Chinese government.”

With hogs lost to disease, China may turn to the U.S. for more pork imports. That would limit their need for soybeans and meal for feed.

“They won’t want to buy the beans, crush them and feed them to hogs,” Zuzolo said. “They’ll cut the supply chain down so they can get the pork right away.”

Wheat has seen some increases with news that Russia may soon be limiting their exports as they look to boost their internal supplies.

“Over the last several years, we’ve lost our biggest customers,” Payne said. “They are buying Black Sea product. The rise of the Black Sea is for a couple of reasons. One, they’ve had product, they’re closer and their freight costs are cheaper.”

As Russia sees inflation become an issue, Payne suggests that while they may want to continue to explore export options, price could force them out.

“If they don’t curb exports themselves, the price will have to do it,” he said.