CORN

Corn closed the week 7 1/4 cents lower. Last week, private exporters announced a sale of 589,395 mts of corn to Mexico. 

In the weekly export inspections report, U.S. corn exports, for the week ended April 16, were 26.9 million bushels and were the lowest in 11 weeks. Last week's exports were below the average weekly "needed" pace of roughly 40.3 million bushels needed in the May-August timeframe if the USDA's 1.725 billion bushel export projection is to be met. Cumulative exports of 835 million bushels are down 36% from last year's 1.311 billion at this time.

In the weekly crop progress and conditions report, U.S. corn planting is 7% complete vs. 7% expected, 3% last week, 5% last year and 9% average. Iowa is 2% done, while Illinois is 8%, Indiana is 4%, Missouri is 11% and Texas is 64% complete. 

In the weekly EIA report, U.S. ethanol production, for the week ended April 17, declined to 563k barrels/day (166 million gallons/week) from 570k bpd (168 mil gallons/week) the week prior and was 46% below last year's same-week production of 1.048 mpbd (308 mil gallons/week). U.S. ethanol stocks moved higher again last week, although at much slower pace as well, now at 1.163 billion gallons (27.689 million barrels) vs. 1.154 million gallons (27.469 mil barrels) the week prior with the 9 million gallon increase easily being the smallest in four weeks. Ethanol stocks are now nearly 22% (208 million gallons) larger than last year at this time. — Thanks to Randy Middeltstat 

STRATEGY & OUTLOOK

The loss of ethanol production will stymie U.S. corn demand as ethanol usage accounts for 43% of total demand for corn. Until the economy opens back up and energy consumption returns to more normal patterns, corn usage will remain subdued. Any weather-related rallies should be used as selling opportunities. 

 

SOYBEANS

Soybeans closed the week 4 cents lower. Last week, private exporters announced sales of 606,000 mts of soybeans to China and 125,000 mts of soybeans to Mexico.  

In the weekly export inspections report, U.S. soybean exports last week of 19.8 million bushels were again below the current average "needed" pace of roughly 26.0 million bushels in order to reach the USDA's 1.775 billion bushel export projection for the 7th consecutive week. Cumulative export inspections of 1.209 billion bushels are up 6.1% from last year's 1.140 billion.

U.S. soybean planting is 2% complete vs. 2% expected, 1% last year and 1% average. Illinois and Indiana are both 2% done. 

STRATEGY & OUTLOOK

The soybean may draw a few acres away from corn, especially if the month of April proves to be wet across the Corn Belt. The COT report has turned decidedly bearish to the soybean market. The fundamentals suggest to sell this market on weather-related rallied. 

WHEAT

For the week, Chicago wheat closed 2 3/4 cents lower, Kansas City wheat closed 2 ¼ cents lower and Minneapolis wheat 6 1/4 cents lower. Last week, exporters did not announce any export sales. 

In the weekly export inspections report, U.S. wheat exports last week were 17.3 million bushels. Last week's wheat exports were, once again, below the roughly 24.6 million bushel/week average that is needed in order to reach the USDA's 985 million bushel export projection. Only one of the last seven weeks' exports reached the "needed" pace. 

In the USDA weekly crop progress and conditions report, U.S. spring wheat planting moved to 7% complete vs. 11% expected, 5% last week, 4% last year and 18% average. North Dakota is unseeded with South Dakota 9%, Minnesota 1%, Washington 78% and Idaho 54%. Winter wheat conditions fell to 57% good/excellent vs. 61% expected, 62% last week and 62% last year. HRW states of Kansas was down 4% to 46% g/e; Missouri up 1% to 50% g/e; Oklahoma down 10% to 65% g/e; Texas down 8% to 58% and Nebraska down 6% to 69% g/e. SRW saw general improvement with Illinois up 7% to 68%; Indiana down 1% to 67% and Ohio down 1% to 73%. 14% of the winter wheat crop is headed vs. 15% on average. 

STRATEGY & OUTLOOK

Supply rallies need to be sold as the winter wheat crop is off to a great start and the Russian wheat crop appears to be the second largest on record, which will dominate world exports in the second half of 2020.  Australia wheat production in 2020-21 seen rebounding to 23 mmts from 15.2 mmts last year according to the USDA’s Foreign Ag Service. 

LIVE & FEEDER CATTLE

Last week, live cattle closed $3.52 lower while feeder cattle closed $2.60 lower.

Last week, moderate fed cattle cash trade occurred in the North at mostly $95  to $100 live and $148  to $160  dressed —  $5  to $20  lower than last week. Light trade in the South was primarily at $100, with a few at $95 late in the week — $5 to $10 lower than the prior week. 

Last week, the Fed Cattle Exchange Auction had 5,778 head listed for sale in 44 lots. 898 head sold in 6 lots all at $105. Texas sold 403 head at $105; Nebraska sold 210 head at $105 and Oklahoma sold 285 head at $105. 

The latest USDA steer carcass weights were down 2 pounds compared to the prior week at 889, making them 24 pounds above last year.

Last week's net sales of 20,200 mts was reported for 2020. 

The monthly COF report would normally be considered bullish for the industry, but this is not a normal situation. On feed supplies are the lowest in three years and lower than expectations. On feed came in at 94.5% of 2019, slightly under the average guess of 95%. Placements were the lowest in history at 77.3% of last year, less than the average guess of 79% while marketings were the highest in 20 year at 113.1%, above average estimates of 111.8%. 

STRATEGY & OUTLOOK

The cattle market is dealing with a problem of not finding enough shackle space to meet the heavy supplies of cattle. Packers need to find a way to increase kills in a safe manner, which will lead to a strong cash market into the summer. 

LEAN HOGS

Lean hogs closed the week $7.72 higher. 

The monthly cold storage report showed total red meat supplies in freezers were down 2 percent from the previous month but up 7 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 11 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 4 percent from the previous month but up 2 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 6 percent from last month and up 34 percent from last year.

Iowa/Minnesota weekly hog weights for week ending April 18, 2020 up slightly at 285.8 pounds vs. 284.9 pounds last week and 286.1 pounds last year.

Last week's net sales of 39,800 mts was reported for 2020 with pork shipments at 28,300 mt. China bought 9,700 mt, while taking shipments of 18,400 mt.

STRATEGY & OUTLOOK

The lean hog market has very strong export demand that should limit the downside risk for futures. Surging exports and very strong shipments should lead to higher summer prices, if packers can find a way to stay open amid the coronavirus concerns and not back up supplies.