CORN------

Corn closed the week 8 cents higher. Exporters announced sales of 101,600 metric tons (mts) of corn to an unknown destination. 

In the weekly export inspections report, U.S. corn exports were 43 million bushels (mb) and were comparable to those over the last four weeks averaging 49.3 mb per week. Corn exports will need to average roughly 41.4 mb per week, significantly above last year's weak late May-August export period which averaged only 24.1 mb per week to reach the USDA forecast. Cumulative export inspections of 1.077 billion bushels (bb) are still down a considerable 29% from last year's 1.519 billion, but continually clawing their way back each week after being down more than 50% at the start of 2020.

In the weekly crop progress and conditions report, U.S. corn planting 88% complete versus 90% expected (86-92% range of ideas), 80% last week, 55% last year, 82% average. Most of the key states are planted with North Dakota the biggest laggard at only 54% planted versus 79% normally. Emergence is becoming a concern as only 64% of the crop has emerged versus 58% on average. The first corn crop condition rating of the year came in at 70% good or excellent versus last year's 59% good or excellent initial condition in early June. The corn condition in line with average season-starting conditions over last 10 years. Illinois conditions are only 55% good or excellent. 

In the weekly Energy Information Administration report, ethanol stocks fell to 23.2 mb for week ending May 22 versus 23.6 mb last week and 22.6 mb last year. Ethanol production rose for the 5th consecutive week to 724,000 barrels per day, up from 663,000 barrels per day last week although still well below 1,057,000 barrels per day a year ago. Corn used for ethanol was estimated at 73.3 mb last week, up from 67.1 mb the week prior but still below last year's 105.4 mb usage for the same week.

Strategy and outlook: The COT report remains bullish with commercials holding a large net long position and the large speculative funds the largest net short position in history. June and July weather can turn hot and dry, giving the market a reason to rally and funds to cover short positions. If this happens this month, sell multiple years of production.

 

SOYBEANS------

Soybeans closed the week 7 and a ½ cents higher. Private exporters announced sales of 390,000 mts of soybeans to China and 354,000 mts of soybean meal to the Philippines. 

In the weekly export inspections report, U.S. soybean exports last week were disappointing at 12.2 mb, down from the previous week's 13.1 mb, as well as last year's same-week exports of 19.7 million, while also being the lowest in seven weeks and the second-lowest of the 38 weeks so far of the 2019/20 marketing year. Soybeans need to average about 22 mb per week to reach the USDA's 1.675 bb export projection, the fourth consecutive week falling below the "needed" pace. Cumulative export inspections of 1.289 bb are holding onto a slim 4% year-over-year gain, but continually declining, while USDA is estimating this year total exports down 4.2% from last year.

In the weekly crop progress and conditions report, U.S. soybean planting moved to 65% complete versus 69% expected, 53% last week, 26% last year and 55% average. North Dakota is only 29% done versus 60% average. Emergence is 35% nationally versus 27% on average. North Dakota only has 4% emerged and South Dakota is only 19% emerged. 

Strategy and outlook: A potentially bearish supply situation remains with questions concerning Chinese purchases in the Phase 1 trade agreement. Chinese purchases of US products are the slowest since 2007 for this time of year. Political tensions are increasing which could cause China to back out of the agreement. A weather-related rally must be sold by producers.

 

WHEAT-------

For the week, Chicago wheat closed 12 and ¾ cents higher, Kansas City wheat closed 25 ¾ cents higher and Minneapolis wheat 12 cents higher. Exporters did not announce any export sales.

In the weekly export inspections report, U.S. wheat exports, in the second to last full week of the 2019/20 marketing year, were disappointing again at 16.8 mb. Over the last six weeks, wheat exports averaged 17.7 mb per week. If wheat exports average around 20 mb per week the next two weeks, we estimate marketing year total exports, taking into account the difference between official Census Bureau data, as well as flour/product exports, would be around 955 mb. Cumulative export inspections of 896 mb compare to last year's 889 million at this time. 

In the USDA weekly crop progress and conditions report, U.S. spring wheat planting 81% complete versus 77% expected (70-81% range of ideas), 60% last week, 80% last year and 90% average. North Dakota made big strides last week at 70% done, up from 41% last week but still behind the normal pace of 88%. 

Winter wheat conditions improved to 54% good/excellent versus 53% expected,52% last week and 61% last year. A big drop was noted in Illinois, down 8% to 55% good or excellent. Winter wheat is 68% headed versus 56% last week and 72% on average. 

Strategy and outlook: Frost and now dryness in parts of western Kansas and the Texas/Oklahoma panhandle have taken off the top end of yields. Dryness in the European Union wheat belt has trimmed their exportable supplies and opened the door for the possibility of increased US wheat exports. The COT report has turned decidedly bullish.

 

LIVE CATTLE-----

Last week, live cattle closed $2.82 higher while feeder cattle closed $6.37 higher.

Last week, fed cattle trade in the North was mostly $112 to $120 live and $178 to $190 dressed - steady to $3 lower than the prior week. Trade in the South occurred at $115 to $120 - steady with the prior week.

Last week, the Fed Cattle Exchange Auction had 1,164 head listed for sale in seven lots. Four lots from Texas asked $115-$120 and all went unsold while three lots from Kansas asked $120 and also went unsold. 

The latest USDA steer carcass weights were up five pounds compared to the prior week at 901, making them 52 pounds above last year.

Last week's net sales of 11,500 mts was reported for 2020 with shipments of 11,200 mts. 

Strategy and outlook: Producers should implement option strategies to lock in the latest rally that will protect the downside and allow for additional upside potential in the summer and fall months, as backed up cattle supplies, increasing weights and slow slaughter pace will make the rallies difficult to sustain.

 

HOGS----

Lean hogs closed the week $1.00 higher. 

Iowa/S. Minnesota weekly hog weights for week ending May 23 were released at 291.5 pounds versus 294.1 pounds last week and 285.5 pounds a year ago.

Last week's net sales of 20,600 mts with shipments at 34,500 mts. China purchased 6,100 mts of US pork and they took shipments of 15,200 mts. 

Strategy and outlook: Producers should use rallies to lock in profits as the increasing weights and backlog of supplies will limit the upside potential of the hog market.

Brian Hoops is president and senior market analyst of Midwest Market Solutions Inc. The home office is in Springfield, Mo., with branch offices in Thief River Falls, Minn.; Verona, N.D.; Yankton, S.D.; Storm Lake, Iowa; and Springfield, Neb.