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CME: Lower Numbers for Corn Crop Expected

by 5m Editor
9 November 2010, at 12:20a.m.

US - USDA will release its November <em>Crop Production</em> and <em>World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates</em> today. Analysts expect lower numbers for the corn crop and higher numbers for soybeans, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.

The results of DowJones’ pre -report survey of analysts appears below. They represent the averages and ranges of the estimates for 26 grain market observers. As can be seen, they expect, on average, USDA to reduce this year’s national average corn yield by another 0.4 bushels/acre, putting it just over 10 bushels or 9.4 per cent lower than last year. The lower yield would drive the corn crop down by another 119 million bushels from the October estimate to 12.664 billion bushels, 4.3 per cent lower then last year. The story is quite different for soybeans where analysts expect the yield estimate to increase to 44.6 bushels/acre and the crop to grow to 3.426 billion bushels — both record highs. CME Group Corn futures for the 2010 crop were off 2.5 cents per bushel today while soybeans for the coming crop year were down 8.25 to 9.5 cents/bushel. Soybean meal futures closed roughly $3/ton lower across the board.

A separate survey of expected year-end stocks next August pegs corn inventories at 840 million bushels, their lowest yearend level since 1995-96, the year of then-record corn prices. Those record stood until the oil price- and ethanol-fueled spike of 2008. The predicted 840 million bushels compares to 902 million estimated in October and 2009-10 carryout stocks of 1.708 billion bushels. In spite of a larger predicted crop, analysts expect soybean year-end stocks to fall — from October’s predicted level of 265 million to 240 million. Robust export demand and rising soybean oil prices should keep usage high in spite of bean and bean product prices that are quite high from a historical perspective.

One explanatory note: “Year-end stocks” and “carryout stocks” are synonymous terms that refer to the amount of grain in storage at the end of the crop year. The crop year for corn and soybeans runs from 1 September through 31 August of the following year.

The run-up of corn and soybean meal prices that began back in July has severely dampened hopes of an economic recovery for pork producers. As of last Friday, projected production costs for Iowa farrow-to-finish operations in 2011 would average $78.47/cwt. carcass, up from the mid-$60s in late August and just over $70/cwt carcass as recent as the first week in October. Higher costs and the decline of Lean Hogs futures have taken estimated average profits for 2011 from $8.33/head on 31 August to -$0.49/head as of Friday — and that figure is over $2/head better than it was just one week earlier.