KSU Corn Market Outlook in Early March 2017: Looking Ahead to “Next Crop” MY 2017/18

An analysis of U.S. and World Corn supply-demand factors and “Next Crop” 2017/18 Marketing Year supply-demand and price prospects is provided in the following article summary.  This information follows the USDA’s February 23-24, 2017 Agricultural Outlook Forum, as well as USDA Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply Demand Estimates (WASDE) reports on February 9, 2017.  A full version of this article is available on the KSU AgManager website:  http://www.agmanager.info

Following is a summary of the article on “Corn Market Outlook in Early March 2017″ with the full article and accompanying analysis soon to be available on the KSU AgManager website at the following web address:

KSU Grain Market Outlook Newsletter

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Summary

Overview

Since the USDA’s February 9th World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, MAY 2017 CME corn futures have been volatile – moving both higher and lower within the range of $3.67 ¼ to $3.87 ¼.  The February 23-24, 2017 USDA 2017 Agricultural Outlook Forum forecast of lower 2017 U.S. corn production of 14.065 billion bushels (bb) and a moderate reduction in “next crop” 2017/18 marketing year ending stocks of 2.215 bb have provided moderate support for the U.S. corn market.

Cash corn prices in at major grain elevators in central and western Kansas ranged from $3.04 to $3.28 on Tuesday, March 1st.  This represents a marked increase since October-December 2016 when prices had fallen below $3.00 per bushel – down to $2.66-$2.96 on December 23rd – although not as low as marketing loan rates near $2.05 (central KS) to $2.19 (western KS) per bushel.  Cash corn prices in east central and northeast Kansas – near river terminal locations – were $3.55 on March 1st, up from the range of $3.26-$3.28 per bushel on 12/23/2016.  While the “large supply and tight storage availability” situation still predominates in local Kansas grain markets, it is a positive sign that corn usage has provided support for prices.  Kansas cash corn prices on have increased since late December, having avoided falling down to USDA loan rate – price support levels through the recent fall and winter months.

Other Market Factors in 2017

Other factors that could affect the U.S. corn market in 2017 include the following.

First, the pace and timing of U.S. farmer marketing of the 2016 corn crop – much of which had been placed in storage after fall harvest and likely has been held for sale through the winter into at least early spring 2017.

Second, anticipation of continued strong use of 2016 crop U.S. corn for domestic U.S. ethanol production and livestock feeding through spring-summer 2017.

Third, at least moderate continued strength in U.S. corn exports – driven partly by the availability of exportable corn supplies from South America through spring 2017.

And fourth, the always present possibility of broader U.S. and Foreign economic and/or financial system disruptions that could impact grain, energy, and other commodity markets in 2017.  World geo-political events could provide an unanticipated “shock” to U.S. and World energy and grain markets – with the impact on the direction of U.S. and World corn markets being difficult to anticipate.

USDA Supply-Demand Forecast for “Next Crop” MY 2017/18.  

With early USDA projections of 2017 U.S. corn plantings of 90.000 million acres or ‘ma’ (down 4.004 ma), harvested acres of 82.400 ma (down 4.348 ma), projected yields of 170.7 bu/ac (vs the record high of 174.6 in 2016), 2017 U.S. corn production is forecast to be 14.065 bb – down from the record high of 15.148 bb in 2016.  

The USDA forecast “next crop” MY 2017/18 total supplies of 16.435 bb – down 505 mb from last year’s record high).  Total use is forecast at 14.220 bb – down 400 mb from last year’s record high.  Ending stocks are projected to be 2.215 bb (15.58% S/U) – down from 2.320 bb (15.87% S/U) in “current” MY 2016/17.  United States’ corn prices are projected by the USDA to average $3.50 /bu – up from a midpoint estimate of $3.40 /bu from a year ago – but within the range of $3.20-$3.60 /bu for “current” MY 2016/17. This scenario is given a 55% likelihood of occurring by KSU Extension Ag Economist D. O’Brien.

Alternative KSU Forecasts for “Next Crop” MY 2017/18

Three alternative KSU-Scenarios for U.S. corn supply-demand and prices are presented for “next crop” MY 2017/18.  Each forecast scenario presents the likelihood of alternative, lower U.S. corn yields and production than projected by the USDA in the February 23-24, 2017 Agricultural Outlook Forum for “next crop” MY 2017/18. 

KSU “Next Crop” MY 2017/18 Scenario #1) “167.3 bu/ac – 13.786 bb” Scenario (25% probability) assumes: 90.000 ma planted, 82.400 ma harvested, 167.3 bu/ac trend yield, 13.786 bb production, 16.156 bb total supplies, 14.185 bb total use, 1.971 bb ending stocks, 13.89% S/U, & $3.65 /bu U.S. corn average price for “next crop” MY 2017/18; 

KSU “Next Crop” MY 2017/18 Scenario #2) “165.0 bu/ac – 13.596 bb” Scenario (15% probability) assumes: 90.000 ma planted, 82.400 ma harvested, 165.0 bu/ac yield, 13.596 bb production, 15.966 bb total supplies, 14.080 bb total use, 1.886 bb ending stocks, 13.39% S/U, & $3.70 /bu U.S. corn average price for “next crop” MY 2017/18;

KSU “Next Crop” MY 2017/18 Scenario #3) “150.0 bu/ac – 12.360 bb” Scenario (5% probability) assumes: 90.000 ma planted, 82.300 ma harvested, 150.0 bu/ac yield, 12.3605 bb production, 14.680 bb total supplies, 13.460 bb total use, 1.220 bb ending stocks, 8.92% S/U, & $4.55 /bu U.S. corn average price for “next crop” MY 2017/18;

World Corn Supply-Demand:

Record high World corn production of 1,040.2 million metric tons (mmt) is projected for “current” MY 2016/17, up 8.3% from 960.7 mmt in MY 2015/16, and up 2.4% from 1,015.6 mmt in MY 2014/15.  Record high World corn total supplies of 1,250.6 mmt are projected for “current” MY 2016/17, up from 1,170.5 mmt in MY 2015/16, and from 1,190.3 mmt in MY 2014/15. 

World corn exports of 149.0 mmt are projected for “current” MY 2016/17, up 23.0% from 121.1 mmt in MY 2015/16, and up 4.8% from 142.2 mmt in MY 2014/15.  Projected record high World corn ending stocks of 217.6 mmt (21.1% S/U) in “new crop” MY 2016/17 are up from 210.4 mmt (21.9% S/U) in MY 2015/16, and from 209.8 mmt (21.4% S/U) in MY 2014/15.  

Although World corn ending stocks are projected to be a record high in “current” MY 2016/17 at 217.6 mmt, World corn percent ending stocks-to-use are forecast to actually decline marginally to 21.1%.  Strong World demand for corn at low prices is expected to continue – especially in the United States, Argentina, Mexico, Southeast Asia, China, Ukraine, and other Former Soviet Union countries (less Ukraine).   Ongoing, strong demand could cause sharply increased corn market volatility in the summer of 2017 IF any threats to the 2017 U.S. crop emerge.

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