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Grain and soy markets appear to be treading water here in front of the March USDA numbers as if the will really have something fresh and enlightening to tell us. Yes, there will be updates on the USDA opinion of the South American crops, but it is not as if everyone has not been seeing reports from Conab, The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange, AgRural, etc., so it is difficult to imagine there will be much of a surprise in store.
The problems in Argentina is a given at this time but the shortfall in production of both corn and beans there appears to be creating some opportunities and possibly a few changes in Brazil. It has generally been assumed that the late planting that took place in that country this past spring had all but assured a disappointing safrinha crop, in part due to the lateness of which that second crop would be planted, but also because prices were already quite depressed. In many areas that has changed dramatically with advances of over 20% during the past 30-days. With this type of boost, farmers may now be incentivized to become a bit more aggressive in getting that crop planted. While by no means would that assure a larger crop, and some of the potential acres have already lost out to cotton, but a few private forecasters have already been pushing up production estimates. This would be a prime example of how free markets should work.
It is Thursday which means export sales which were exceptional for corn and beans and even showed a solid improvement for wheat. For the week ending March 1st, we sold 391,500 MT or 14.39 million bushels of wheat. This was more than double last week and 28% above the 4-week average. Top purchasers were unknown destinations with 113.5k MT, South Korea at 71.5k and Japan with 66.1k. Marketing YTD sales now stand at 809.3 million bushels or 85% of the projected total. There are 13 weeks left in the year. Corn sales were very solid at 1,857,600 MT or 73.1 million bushels. This was 8% higher than last week and 6% above the 4-week average. Top purchasers were unknown destinations with 385.9k MT, followed by Japan with 376.8k and Mexico at 366.2k. The marketing YTD total now stands at 1.619 billion bushels which represents 79% of the projected target. We have 26 weeks left in the year so now need to average 16.6 million per week to hit the mark. Do note that in the daily system, sales of 110k MT of corn to Japan were also reported. Beans sales surged this week with a total of 2,509,500 MT or 92.2 million bushels. To put this in perspective, this is the second highest weekly tally for the marketing year and remember that just two weeks ago, we set the marketing year low with a figure of a negative 4 million bushels. Top purchasers for the week were China with 1.2759k MT, followed by Mexico with 307.1k and then unknown destinations at 112k. This brings the marketing YTD tally up to 1.763 billion or 84% of the target. Note that meal, oil and cotton sales all posted nice gains for the week with the only real disappointment coming in the meat trade. Interesting enough, the markets responded with basically ho-hum trade.
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