U.S. grain markets look headed for more seasonal harvest selling pressure on Monday after Midwest weather forecasts pointed to an active harvest weekend, but traders said the focus will quickly turn to the government’s next monthly crop report due a day later. A lot hinges on Tuesday’s numbers. Typically, the November report confirms the U.S. Agriculture Department’s previous estimates. But given the unusually slow 2009 harvest pace amid persistent autumn rains, this month’s report will play a bigger role than usual in trade attitudes going forward. ”We’re going to get actual harvest data. So this report becomes more important for the industry and there is that element of surprise,” said Dan Basse, president of AgResource, a Chicago-based ag consultant. Analysts polled by Reuters last week said on average they expect USDA to make a modest upward revision to its 2009 U.S. soy output forecast — up about 12 million bushels to 3.262 billion, surpassing the current record of 3.197 billion. Soybean demand is strong, but the supply number will matter. ”If those numbers get significantly larger, you’re going to see some pressure in beans,” said Dan Cekander, an analyst with Newedge USA in Chicago. For corn, most analysts expect to see a downward revision due to the delayed harvest — down 78 million bushels to 12.94 billion. However, there were also a handful of analysts who said USDA could boost its forecast to approach the all-time high of 13.038 billion bushels harvested in 2007. DOLLAR BULLS VERSUS HARVEST BEARS While the weak dollar was key to the moves in commodities early last week, with grain prices rising as the dollar fell, it was all about harvest supplies the remainder of the week. The net effect was corn for December delivery <CZ9> closing basically unchanged for the week at $3.67 a bushel. November soybeans <SX9> fell 3 percent to $9.48, and December wheat <WZ9> was down just a fraction at $4.97-1/4. Traders said on Friday that unless U.S. economic fundamentals trigger a collapse in the dollar or crude oil rallies, breaking out of its $75-$80 a barrel range, a lower trend in grains was likely ahead of USDA report on Tuesday. U.S. cash grain markets weakened across the Midwest on Friday as farmers worked around the clock to harvest crops. There were reports of farmers waiting hours in truck lines to dump freshly harvested corn and soybeans, and many country elevators were only taking grain every other day, as the magnitude of the harvest logjam created logistical nightmares. That meant a pickup in harvest hedge sales on Friday, which will likely surface again when CBOT markets open Sunday night given the near-perfect weather forecast for the weekend. USDA will issue its weekly crop progress data on Monday. As of late Friday, traders were expecting the government to report a huge advance with roughly 75 percent of the soy harvest complete, compared with 51 percent the previous week, and 40 percent of corn off the field, versus 25 percent a week ago. ”We have made some very good progress this week and heavy grain movement. One good thing about this pattern is we are going to fill the pipeline quickly,” Basse said.Photo: It was an active harvest weekend across the U.S. Midwest. Illinois corn field taken Nov 8 by Christine Stebbins.
Veteran traders say U.S. grains feel “toppy” after last week’s rally to multimonth highs, but many remained hesitant to pick a direction for the coming week given the outside storms rattling the markets. What they would agree on is that the two main factors which have directed the markets for the past month — U.S. harvest weather and the dollar — will remain center stage this week. Typically, Chicago Board of Trade corn and soybean prices slump during October, the traditional prime time for harvesting U.S. grains, as more supplies flood into country elevators, grain processors and other marketing channels. But Mother Nature has not cooperated this autumn. Persistent rains and cool temperatures have put the 2009 harvest off to the slowest start in more than two decades. Corn, the biggest row crop, was only 17 percent harvested on Oct. 18, versus the usual 46 percent. Soybeans were 30 percent harvested, versus the usual 72 percent. The delays increase the chances of quality problems for both jumbo crops this year, and boost costs for drying and grain handling. It also makes it tough for U.S. exporters to meet their sales commitments, especially in soybeans given the record sales for the start of the 2009/2010 marketing season. ”This spring you couldn’t get the crop in and now you can’t get it out. So you’re seeing a lot of premium built into the market,” said Dax Wedemeyer, an analyst at brokerage U.S. Commodities in Iowa. “Everybody knows it’s wet — eventually it will dry out and you will be able to harvest this crop.” The question is when, analysts say. Forecasters on Monday are calling for more rain this week across the Midwest but it will be warmer and slightly drier than last week. So the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s harvest progress report at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) on Monday will keep the attention of traders. CBOT traders are guessing USDA would report the soy harvest about half done. Corn harvest was seen at only 25 percent as farmers focus on soybeans, which are seen as more vulnerable to damage from rain and cold temps. EYES ALSO ON THE WEAK DOLLAR ”There is definitely macro money coming into grains because of the dollar,” said analyst Charlie Sernatinger with brokerage Fortis Clearing Americas. A weak dollar is a buy signal for dollar-based commodities, making U.S. grains more attractive to overseas buyers. Last week was a classic example. The Reuters-Jefferies CRB index <.CRB> of 19 commodity futures hit a one-year peak of 285 as the dollar fell to a 14-month low against a basket of key currencies. The dollar has been under pressure as the global growth outlook improves more than that of the battered U.S. economy and with financial markets anticipating record low U.S. interest rates staying in place well into next year. ”The money that is flowing in here is not flowing in based on any kind of expectation of return. It’s flowing into commodities because of fear the basement of the currency,” Sernatinger said. “That makes it awfully difficult to predict — what the next flow is going to be.” Weekly commitments of trader data issued late on Friday by the U.S. regulator, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, confirmed a big flow of speculative money into CBOT grains last week, traders and analysts noted. The end result was a surprise buoyancy in grains last week. CBOT corn for December delivery <CZ9> rose 7 percent to $3.97-3/4 a bushel for the week. Chicago December wheat <WZ9> climbed 10 percent to $5.47-3/4 and November soybeans <SX9> rose 3 percent to $10.06.Photo: Iowa corn field taken in late September by Christine Stebbins.
CHICAGO, Oct 20 (Reuters) – Frustrated wheat traders who
say the Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat contract
is no longer an effective hedging tool appear to be testing the
waters in a new market — the Minneapolis Grain Exchange.
Open interest in the MGE’s long-dormant, cash-settled Soft
Red Winter Wheat Index (SRWI) futures has exploded over the
last three weeks — jumping from zero on Sept. 25 to 1,258
contracts as of Oct. 16.
DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) – Agribusiness leaders are stepping up investment and technology to tackle world hunger and climate problems tied to agriculture, but they see no quick solution to hunger, which kills 25,000 people a day around the world.
“I’m not much of magic bullet guy and I really do believe in a multiplicity of approaches,” Mark Cackler, who overseas rural poverty and agriculture programs for The World Bank, said in an interview at the World Food Prize forum on Friday.
DES MOINES, Iowa, Oct 15 (Reuters) – The U.S. Agriculture Department hopes to secure 10 percent of the funding for the new U.S. global hunger and food security initiative to put into agricultural research, USDA chief Tom Vilsack said on Thursday.
Congress has not yet finalized appropriations for the plan for fiscal 2010 but is discussing a range of $1 billion to $1.2 billion to be spent on agricultural development, Vilsack said in an interview.
"Our view is initially 10 percent of that ought to be considered for research," Vilsack told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Food Prize forum, noting the U.S. government continues to discuss how to implement the plan.
The Obama administration has said agricultural development will play a big role in its foreign policy.
The administration wants to spend as much as $3.5 billion over three years to help small farmers in poor countries grow more crops to reduce hunger and improve local economies.
The USDA will use its expertise in agricultural research and training to help with the project, Vilsack said.
The State Department, which is leading the initiative, has not yet determined how it will allocate the funding once Congress appropriates it, he said.
Decisions about the research projects will be made in concert with developing countries trying to raise small farmers’ yields, he said.
"It is not a top-down, heavy-handed approach. It is not, ‘Here’s our food, be grateful.’ It is, ‘We want to help, but we need to know from you what help you need,’" Vilsack said. (Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) – The fight to end hunger is being hurt by environmentalists who insist that genetically modified crops cannot be used in Africa, Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of software giant Microsoft, said on Thursday.
Gates said GMO crops, fertilizer and chemicals are important tools — although not the only tools — to help small farms in Africa boost production.
DES MOINES (Reuters) – The long-term goal for the biofuels industry will be to use nonfood sources for raw materials rather than grains, but to reach that goal industry must build on and not abandon current technology, biofuels giant Archer Daniels Midland said on Wednesday.
“My belief is agriculture can contribute to both — both higher food production and these other elements of the food chain that contribute to other ingredients in our daily life including fuels,” ADM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Patricia Woertz told reporters at the World Food Prize forum.
DES MOINES, Iowa, Oct 13 (Reuters) – Researchers and others
who seek to alleviate hunger by boosting farmers’ productivity
will gather this week in the heart of the U.S Corn Belt to
focus on the political risks when people don’t have enough to
Last year, fears of food shortages gripped grain markets,
sending wheat and rice prices soaring to record highs and
sparking hoarding and riots.