KSU Soybean Market Outlook in Late-May 2018 – A Convergence of Volatility-Factors Upon the Soybean Markets

An analysis of U.S. and World soybean supply-demand factors and 2018 price prospects following the USDA’s May 10th Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply Demand Estimates (WASDE) reports will be available on the KSU AgManager website (http://www.agmanager.info/)

Following an article on “Soybean Market Outlook in Late-May 2018” – with the full article and accompanying analysis to be available on the KSU AgManager website at the following web address:

http://www.agmanager.info/grain-marketing/grain-market-outlook-newsletter

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1. Overview of the Soybean Market Situation in Late-May 2018

Since February 1, 2018 the outlook for U.S. soybean market prices through Summer-Fall of this year has been extremely uncertain.  Prospects for soybean production and trade competition from South America has had both positive and negative impacts on U.S. soybean export market and price prospects. However, the largest source of uncertainty has stemmed from trade disputes between the U.S. and China – which has at different times both diminished and improved U.S. soybean export market prospects.   With soybean planting progressing in the U.S., during July-August 2018 the attention of the soybean market will likely turn toward the development of the 2018 U.S. soybean crop and associated supply and demand prospects.

What can be described as “neutral-to-cautiously optimistic” forecasts for U.S. soybean prices in the “new crop” 2018/19 marketing year that now predominate in the soybean market are based on a combination of market factors.  These include: 1) as yet un-dealt with 2018 U.S. soybean production risk in Summer 2018; 2) expectations of continued strength in U.S. soybean domestic crush and exports in coming months; and 3) the possibility of tighter U.S. soybean supplies in terms of reduced ending stocks and percent ending stocks-to-use if a short crop develops in the U.S. this summer.  Improved U.S. soybean export prospects are expected resulting from 2018 soybean production problems for export competitor Argentina on the one hand, and hopes for a resolution to the China-U.S. trade dispute on the other. 

Even with the relative strength of U.S. soybean prices over the past four (4) months, the path of U.S. soybean prices through Fall 2018 will be largely driven by the development of and prospects for the 2018 U.S. soybean crop.   Kansas State University projections are that if prospects for 2018 U.S. corn production decline markedly below the 4.280 billion bushel (bb) forecast by the USDA – down to say 3.800-4.000 bb or less, then U.S. soybean ending stocks for “new crop” MY 2018/19 would likely fall to 250-300 mb or less (compared to the USDA’s forecast of 415 mb).  If this occurs, then U.S. soybean ending stocks-to-use in “new crop” MY 2018/19 would likely decline to 7.0%-8.0% or less – compared to the current USDA forecast of 9.39% ending stocks-to-use. 

Consequently, if a short crop were to occur in the U.S. in summer 2018, then in Fall 2018 NOV 2018 soybean futures would likely move higher to the range of $11.50-$12.00 /bu. or more.  Projected U.S. average cash prices for “new crop” MY 2018/19 would also likely rise – up to the range of $11.00-$11.50 /bu (midpoint = $11.25).  This compares to the current USDA forecast of $8.75-$11.25 (midpoint = $10.00 /bu) on 9.39% stocks/use for “new crop” MY 2018/19 – beginning September 1, 2018.

2. CME Soybean Futures & Kansas Cash Corn Prices & Basis Bids

Soybean futures have reflected the “disconcerting uncertainty” that these market factors have had on market sentiments.  Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) JULY 2018 Soybean futures can be described as “volatile” during the February 1st – March 30th period.  After closing at $10.06 per bushel on February 1st, JULY 2018 Soybean futures moved to a high of $10.90 ¼ on March 2nd; to a low of $9.94 ½ on April 4th; to a high of $10.78 on April 13th; to a low of $9.92 ½ on May 17th; to a high of $10.50 ¾ on May 24th; and finally down to a close of $10.18 ½ on Thursday, May 31st

Since the release of the USDA’s May 10th World Agricultural Supply and Demand (WASDE) report, “old crop JULY 2018 CME Soybean futures prices have traded in a range of $9.98 ½ to $10.35 ¾ per bushel before closing at $10.18 ½ /bu on May 31st (Figure 1).   Over the same time period “new crop NOVEMBER 2018 CME Soybean futures prices have traded in a range of $10.02 to $10.42 ½ /bu before closing at $10.34 ¼ on May 31st.   Prices for the JULY 2018 and NOV 2018 futures contracts are up $0.53 ¼ (up 5.5%) and $0.66 ¾ /bu (up 6.9%) from their lows on January 12th following the January 2018 USDA Annual Crop Production Summary, WASDE, and Grain Stocks reports.         

In Western Kansas on Wednesday, May 30th cash soybean bids at major grain elevators ranged from $8.88 ($1.35 under JULY 2018 futures) to $9.23 ($1.00 under), and ranged from $9.29 ($0.94 under) to $9.43 ($0.80 under) in Central Kansas.  These prices are at least moderately higher than when bids in western and central Kansas had fallen to $8.21-$9.05 ½ ($1.40 to $0.55 /bu under MAR 2018 Soybean futures) on January 12, and greatly above marketing loan rates for soybeans across the state, with loan rates near $5.00 in Central Kansas and $4.80 per bushel in Western Kansas

Cash soybean price bids in East Central and Northeast Kansas at major terminal elevator locations were $9.88 – $9.93 ($0.35 to $0.30 under JULY) on May 30th, up substantially from the range of $9.00 ½ – $9.05 ½ per bushel ($0.60-$0.55 under MAR 2018) on 1/12/2018.  Cash soybean bids at Kansas soybean processing plants in Emporia and Wichita on May 30th ranged from $9.86 ($0.37 under JULY) to $9.93 ($0.30 under).

3. South American Export Competition in “Old Crop” MY 2017/18

Soybean market signals from South American export competitors Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay have been “mixed” so far in year 2018 (Figure 14).  Serious drought has caused Argentina soybean production to decline by 32.5% from a USDA estimate of 57.8 million metric tons (mmt) in 2017 down to 39.0 mmt in 2018, and cut projected Argentine soybean exports by 40.3% to 4.2 mmt in the “old crop” 2017/18 marketing year (MY) ending August 31st (Tables 2 & 3).   Argentina soybean meal exports are projected to be 7.4% lower (29.0 mmt) in MY 2017/18, down from 31.3 mmt in MY 2016/17.

However, Brazilian soybean production is projected to be higher – offsetting Argentina’s declines to a degree.  Brazil is projected by the USDA to produce a record high 117.0 mmt of soybeans in year 2018, up 2.5% from the previous record of 114.5 mmt in year 2017.  Brazilian soybean exports are forecast to be 73.3 mmt in MY 2017/18 (ending August 31st), up 16.1% from 63.1 mmt in MY 2016/17 (Tables 2 & 3).  Brazil soybean meal exports are projected to be 13.3% higher (15.6 mmt) in MY 2017/18, up from 13.8 mmt in MY 2016/17.  

Paraguay soybean production is projected to be down marginally – providing a neutral influence to the market.  Paraguay is projected by the USDA to produce 10.2 mmt of soybeans in year 2018, up marginally from 10.0 mmt in year 2017.  Paraguay soybean exports are forecast to be 6.25 mmt in MY 2017/18 (ending August 31st), up 2.0% from 6.13 mmt in MY 2016/17 (Tables 2 & 3). 

These three South American countries are the main competition in global soybean export markets for the United StatesArgentina, Brazil and Paraguay are forecast to comprise 55.4% (83.75 mmt) of forecast World soybean exports (151.3 mmt) in the “old crop” 2017/18 marketing year (MY). The U.S. is projected to make up 37.2% (56.2 mmt) of World soybean exports for MY 2017/18, with other countries making up the remaining 7.4% (11.3 mmt) (Table 3). 

The trade dispute between the U.S. and China has “pushed” Chinese soybean export purchases toward Brazil and away from the U.S. at least temporarily until the matter is either settled OR exportable South American supplies are no longer available in fall 2018.  There has been both negative and positive news coming from these negotiations to date, with final agreements or lack there of still to come.

4. U.S. Soybean Supply-Demand Projections for “Old Crop” MY 2017/18

In the May 10th USDA WASDE report the USDA projected “old crop” MY 2017/18 soybean Total Supplies to be unchanged from earlier WASDE reports at 4.718 billion bushels (bb) (Table 1 and Figure 6). 

Continued strength in U.S. soybean crush resulting from demand for soybean meal for domestic and foreign livestock feeding has supported domestic U.S. soybean demand (Table 1, Figures 7 & 9ab).  Projected exports of U.S. soybean meal of 12.700 million short tons (mst) in “old crop” MY 2017/18 ending on September 30th are up from 11.601 mst last year – trailing only 13.107 mst in MY 2014/15.  Strong U.S. soybean meal exports in “old crop” MY 2017/18 are a direct result of shortfalls in Argentina soybean production and soybean meal exports due to drought conditions in early 2018.    

The USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report monthly projections of U.S. soybeans exports for “old crop” MY 2017/18 have declined by nearly 100 mb since January 2018 – down to a projection of 2.065 bb (Table 1, Figures 7 & 9ab).  This forecast of 2.065 bb for the current marketing year ending on August 31st is still the 2nd highest on record, but down from the record high of 2.174 bb a year earlier.  This moderate reduction in U.S. soybean export prospects in recent months is due to a combination of larger Brazilian soybean production, and trade tensions between the U.S. and China pushing business to Brazil. 

Through May 17th – the 37th week of “old crop” MY 2017/18 – 1.670 bb of U.S. soybeans had been shipped from U.S. ports for exports (Figure 8).  This amounts to 80.9% of the USDA’s projection of 2.065 bb in U.S. exports with 71.2% of the marketing year complete (i.e., 37/52 weeks).  However, total shipments and forward sales of U.S. soybeans in “old crop” MY 2017/18 through May 17th amounted to 2.028 bb, or 98.2% of the USDA’s projection with 71.2% of MY 2017/18 complete – indicating a positive outlook for “old crop” U.S. soybean exports for the remainder of the marketing year through August 31st.

Seed usage of U.S. soybeans is projected to be 103 million bushels (mb) in “old crop” MY 2017/18, with Residual use forecast at 32 mb – both down marginally from MY 2016/17.  Total Use was projected to be a record high of 4.188 bb in “old crop” MY 2017/18 – down moderately from the past record of 4.213 bb in MY 2016/17 (Table 1, Figures 7 & 9ab).

As a result of these supply and use projections for “old crop” MY 2017/18, ending stocks are projected to be the 2nd highest on record at 530 mb with percent ending stocks-to-use of 12.66% – both up from 415 mb (7.17% S/U) in MY 2016/17 (Table 1, Figures 9ab & 10-11).  The record high U.S. soybean ending stocks amount occurred in MY 2006/07, with 574 mb ending stocks and 18.62% ending stocks-to-use. 

United States’ soybean prices for “old crop” MY 2017/18 are projected to average $9.35 /bu – down from $9.47 in MY 2016/17, and comparable to $8.95 /bu in MY 2015/16 (Table 1, Figures 10-11).  

5. U.S. Soybean Supply-Demand Projections for “New Crop” MY 2018/19

The USDA provided a forecast of U.S. soybean supply, demand, and prices for “new crop” MY 2018/19 In the May 10th USDA WASDE report.  Based on 2018 U.S. soybean production projections 88.982 million acres (ma) planted, 88.247 ma harvested, and 2018 U.S. soybean average yields of 48.5 bu/ac., the USDA forecast 2018 U.S. soybean production to be 4.280 bb.  This 2018 forecast of 4.280 bb would be down from the record high of 4.392 bb in 2017, and the 2nd highest amount of 4.296 bb in 2016 (Tables 1a-b, Figures 4-5-6). 

Total Supplies of U.S. soybeans in “new crop” MY 2018/19 are forecast to be a record high 4.835 bb based on 530 mb in beginning stocks, 4.280 bb in production, and 25 mb in imports.  This amount is up from the previous record highs of 4.718 bb and 4.515 bb in U.S. soybean Total Supplies in “old crop” MY 2017/18 and MY 2016/17, respectively (Tables 1a-b, Figure 6). 

Soybean crush in “new crop” MY 2018/19 is forecast to be a new record high of 1.995 bb – to be driven by expected ongoing domestic usage for livestock feed as well as moderately lower soybean meal exports (Table 1a-b, Figures 7 & 9ab).  This would be up 5 mb in U.S. soybean crush from “old crop” MY 2017/18.  

Exports of U.S. soybeans in “new crop” MY 2018/19 are forecast to increase 225 mb to 2.290 bb – likely on short supplies on the part of export competitor Argentina in early 2019 (Figures 7-9).  As of May 17th, a total of 204.2 mb of U.S. soybean sales have been made for delivery in “new crop” MY 2018/19 – beginning on September 1, 2018 – equal to 8.9% of the USDA projection of 2.290 bb for the marketing year.

Seed usage of U.S. soybeans is projected to be 103 million bushels (mb) in “new crop” MY 2018/19, with Residual use forecast at 30 mb – both essentially unchanged from “old crop” MY 2017/18 (Table 1a-b, Figures 9ab). 

Total Use is projected to be a record high of 4.420 bb – up from the previous record highs of 4.188-4.213 bb the last two years (Table 1a-b, Figure 9b). 

As a result of these supply and use projections for “new crop” MY 2018/19, ending stocks are projected to be 415 mb with percent ending stocks-to-use of 9.39% – both down from 530 mb (12.66% S/U) in “old crop” MY 2017/18 (Tables 1a-b, Figures 9ab & 10-11).  United States’ soybean prices for “new crop” MY 2018/19 are projected in the range of $8.75-$11.25 (midpoint = $10.00 /bu) – up $0.65 /bu from the midpoint projection of $9.35 /bu in “old crop” MY 2017/18.   This scenario is given a 50% likelihood of occurring by KSU Extension Agricultural Economist D. O’Brien.

6. Alternative KSU Soybean Forecast Scenarios for “New Crop” MY 2018/19

Three alternative KSU-Scenarios to the USDA’s forecast for U.S. soybean supply-demand and prices are presented for “new crop” MY 2018/19 (Table 1b, Figure 10).  These projections show how varying 2018 U.S. soybean production and use scenarios could affect U.S. soybean supply-demand and price outcomes in “new crop” MY 2018/19.  Probability-weights are added to reflect judgements about how likely each scenario is to occur in “new crop” MY 2018/19, i.e., during the September 1, 2018 through August 31, 2019 time period.

A – KSU “Lower 2018 U.S. Soybean Exports” Scenario for “new crop” MY 2018/19: (15% probability): Assumptions: 88.982 ma planted, 88.053 ma harvested, 48.5 bu/ac yield, 4.271 bb production, 4.826 bb total supplies, 1.995 bb domestic crush, 2.065 bb exports (equal to MY 2017/18 and less than USDA’s forecast), 4.197 bb total use, 629 mb ending stocks, 14.99% S/U, & $8.50 /bu U.S. soybean average price; 

B – KSU “Large 2018 U.S. Soybean Production” Scenario for “new crop” MY 2018/19: (15% probability): Assumptions: 88.982 ma planted, 88.053 ma harvested, 52.0 bu/ac yield (equal to record high in year 2016), 4.579 bb production, 5.134 bb total supplies, 2.000 bb domestic crush, 2.300 bb exports, 4.435 bb total use, 699 mb ending stocks, 15.76% S/U, & $8.25 /bu U.S. soybean average price; 

C – KSU “Small 2018 U.S. Soybean Production” Scenario for “new crop” MY 2018/19: (20% probability): Assumptions are: 88.982 ma planted, 88.053 ma harvested, 42.0 bu/ac yield (near recent lows of 40-44 bu /ac in years 2011-2013), 3.698 bb production, 4.253 bb total supplies, 1.950 bb domestic crush, 2.000 bb exports, 4.085 bb total use, 168 mb ending stocks, 4.11% S/U, & $12.50 /bu U.S. soybean average price;

7. World Soybean Supply-Demand Prospects

World soybean production of a record high 354.5 million metric tons (mmt) is projected for “new crop” MY 2018/19, up 5.3% from 336.7 mmt in “old crop” MY 2017/18, and up 1.2% from the current record high of 350.3 mmt in MY 2016/17 (Figure 13, Table 2).  The “new crop” 2018/19 marketing year begins September 1, 2018 and continues through August 31, 2019.   World soybean total supplies of 446.7 mmt in “new crop” MY 2018/19 are forecast to be up 3.1% from 433.1 mmt in “old crop” MY 2017/18, and up 4.2% from 428.7 mmt in MY 2016/17. 

World soybean exports of a 161.8 mmt are projected for “new crop” MY 2018/19, up 7.0% from 151.3 mmt in “old crop” MY 2017/18, and up 9.7% from 147.5 mmt in MY 2016/17 (Table 3).  China would be the key World soybean importer in the coming marketing year, and show little sign of abating yet in their annual soybean import increases (Table 4, Figure 15).

Projected World soybean ending stocks of 86.7 mmt (24.2% S/U) in “new crop” MY 2018/19 are down 5.9% from 92.2 mmt (26.9% S/U) in “old crop” MY 2017/18, 11.1% from the record high 96.4 mmt (29.3% S/U) in MY 2016/17, and 78.4 mmt (25.0% S/U) in MY 2015/16 (Figures 13 & 16, Tables 8-9).  

Projected Foreign (Non-U.S.) soybean ending stocks of 75.4 mmt (18.9% S/U) in “new crop” MY 2018/19, is down 3.0% from 77.7 mmt (20.5% S/U) in “old crop” MY 2017/18, and is down from 88.2 mmt (24.4% S/U) in MY 2016/17 (Tables 8-9).  

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U.S. Ethanol and Biodiesel Market and Plant Profitability (as of May 29, 2018)

U.S. Ethanol Market & Profitability Situation in May 2018

Given moderate-to-weak ethanol prices, strong distillers grain market demand, and moderately strong corn prices, ethanol plants are estimated to be just marginally covering their costs during the month of May 2018.  The price of ethanol in Iowa during the month of May 2018 is estimated to have averaged $1.3950 per gallon – down from near $1.50 per gallon for much of 2017.  The cost of ethanol production during May 2018 is estimated to be just marginally lower than $1.387 per gallon.  The price of corn in Iowa – being the major input cost for ethanol plants – is estimated to have averaged $3.70 per bushel for May 2018, having risen from a low of $3.13-$3.15 per bushel in November 2017.  The price of distillers dried grains and solubles (DDGS) in May 2018 is projected to be $174 / gallon, up sharply from $109-$116 during Oct-Nov 2017.

As a result, ethanol plants in Iowa are estimated to be only marginally profitable in May 2018 at approximately $0.01 per gallon – being nearly equal to March-April 2018, but up from losses of $0.04-$0.11 per gallon during the December 2017 through February 2018 period.

Biodiesel plants are showing strong profitability in May 2018.  However, biodiesel price data for Iowa were based on an estimate rather than reported data from USDA Agricultural Market Service (AMS) price data. That said, profit estimates for Iowa biodiesel plants are strong enough at approximately $0.32 per gallon, that even if biodiesel prices were $0.15-$0.20 per gallon too high, Iowa biodiesel plants were be making profits of $0.12-$0.17 per gallon produced.

One other factor to note in this analysis is the relationship between ethanol prices and RBOB gasoline prices.  Whereas RBOB gasoline futures prices have been trending strongly higher from near $1.55 per gallon in early October 2017 up to $2.14 in late May 2018, ethanol futures prices have been essentially unchanged to slightly higher during the same period – increasing from $1.46 /gallon in early October 2017 to $1.48 in late May 2018.  Note that during the early December 2017 through early January 2018 period ethanol futures had temporarily fallen to $1.36-$1.37 per gallon.

Overall, the outlook for U.S. ethanol is still positive – given a healthy U.S. economy with accompanying fuel demand, and the likelihood of another successful 2018 growing season for the U.S. corn crop (leading to moderate-to-low U.S. corn prices for the remainder of calendar year 2018.

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Following are some graphics on price and profitability trends in the U.S. ethanol and biodiesel industries, which will soon be available on the KSU AgManager website: http://www.agmanager.info An updated version of the full presentation titled “U.S. Ethanol & Biodiesel Market Situation” will be located at the KSU AgManager.info website – at the following web address:

http://www.agmanager.info/grain-marketing/grain-market-outlook-newsletter

KSU Weekly Grain Market Analysis: Focusing on Ethanol and Bioenergy Costs-Returns

Grain market summary notes, charts and comments supporting the Grain Market Update presented in the KSU Agriculture Today radio program to be played on Friday, May 18, 2018 are available on the Kansas State University www.AgManager.info website at the following KSU web address:

http://www.agmanager.info/sites/default/files/pdf/KSRN_GrainOutlook_05-18-18.pdf

The recorded radio program will be aired at 10:03 a.m. central time, Friday, May 18 on the K-State Radio Network (KSU Agriculture Today Radio) – web player available. A copy of the May 18th  recording will be available at the KSU Agriculture Today website.

Following are sections of the Working notes for this week’s radio program up on the KSU AgManager.info website…

U.S. Ethanol and Biodiesel Market-Profitability Graphics through 5/17/2018 (via KSU AgManager)

Following are some graphics on price and profitability trends in the U.S. ethanol and biodiesel industries, which will soon be available on the KSU AgManager website: http://www.agmanager.info An updated version of the full presentation titled “U.S. Ethanol & Biodiesel Market Situation” will be located at the KSU AgManager.info website – at the following web address:

http://www.agmanager.info/grain-marketing/grain-market-outlook-newsletter

KSU Soybean Market Outlook in Late-March 2018 – New Soybean S-D and Price Expectations for “New Crop” MY 2018/19

An analysis of U.S. and World soybean supply-demand factors and 2018-2019 price prospects following the USDA’s March 8th World Agricultural Supply Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, and the March 29th USDA Prospective Plantings and Grain Stocks reports will be available on the KSU AgManager website (http://www.agmanager.info/default.asp).

Following is a summary of the article on Soybean Market Outlook – with the full article and accompanying analysis to be available on April 2, 2018 on the KSU AgManager website at the following web address:

http://agmanager.info/grain-marketing/grain-market-outlook-newsletter

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Summary

A. Some Perspective on the World Soybean Market

Since 2014, World soybean market prices have been declining in response to the “large crop – low price” supply-demand regime that has been caused by consecutive record World soybean production years for 2014 through 2017, with large crops regularly occurring in South America and the United States.  Strong demand for soybean imports from China, Japan, and other Asian countries have supported World soybean prices.

Longer term, from MY 2007/08 to “old crop” MY 2017/18, this strong upward trend in World soybean production (up 5.6% annually) has “out-paced” increases in World soybean use (up 5.0% per year).  As long as growth in World soybean production continues to outpace World soybean usage, then World soybean stocks will remain at high levels with prices continuing at their current “moderate” levels – being affected positively be ongoing strength in demand, but held “in check” by more than adequate world supplies.  

B. China-U.S. Trade Tensions

The potential for soybean market disruptions from trade policy-related confrontations between the U.S. and China has emerged as an issue in early 2018.  These economic – geopolitical tensions so far have not resulted in official direct tariffs or import limitations by China on U.S. soybeans.  However, it is reported that Chinese buyers of soybeans have responded by aggressively pursuing Brazilian soybean imports, and to a degree have at least moderated their purchases of U.S. soybeans in recent months.  So, although no official action has been taken by China against U.S. soybean imports, such tensions have to a degree already affected U.S. soybean trade by “pressuring” Chinese buyers to redirect their buying focus toward Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and wherever else globally they can secure soybean and oilseed products.

C. Soybean Market Response to the March 8th & 29th USDA Reports

Since the USDA released its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report on March 8th soybean futures prices had moved primarily lower.  From the March 8th close of $10.64, CME MAY 2018 Soybean futures prices have traded from a high of $10.63 on 3/9/2018 down to a low of $10.09 ¼ on March 23rd, before closing at $10.18 on Wednesday, March 28th – the day prior to the USDA Quarterly Stocks & Prospective Plantings reports on March 29th.  Then on the day of the March 29th USDA reports, CME MAY 2018 Soybean futures responded positively, trading from a low of $10.12 ½ to a high of $10.50 ¾ before closing at $10.44 ¾ – up $0.26 ¾ per bushel for the day.

Kansas cash soybean prices at terminals in central and eastern Kansas ranged from $9.42 ¾ to $9.89 ¾ /bu on March 29th – with basis ranging from $1.02 under to $0.60 under MAY 2018 Soybean futures.  That same day in western Kansas, major grain elevator bids ranged from $9.10 to $9.45 per bushel – with basis ranging from $1.35 under to $1.00 under. 

D. World Soybean Supply-Demand Findings in the March 8th WASDE USDA Report

On March 8th for the “old crop” 2017/18 marketing year (MY) to end on August 31, 2018, the USDA projected the following.

First, that World soybean total supplies would be 437.5 million metric tons (mmt) (down 3.0%) with total use of 34.8 mmt (up 4.2%) for “old crop” MY 2017/18. With supplies moving lower and demand increasing, there has been a moderate “tightening” of projected World ending stocks of soybeans. 

Second, that World soybean exports will continue trending higher – up to a record high to 150.6 mmt in the “old crop” 2017/18 marketing year.  This amount of World soybean exports of 150.6 mmt in “old crop” MY 2017/18 would be up from previous records of 147.5 mmt last year, and 132.6 mmt two years ago.   World soybean exports have been growing annually at a 9.1% rate since the 2007/08 marketing year.

Third, that World soybean ending stocks would be a 94.4 mmt in “old crop” MY 2017/18 – down from the record high of 96.65 mmt in MY 2016/17, but still up from 78.3 mmt in MY 2015/16.  Overall, World soybean ending stocks have grown at an 8.0% rate annually since the 2007/08 marketing year.

Fourth, that World soybean percent ending stocks-to-use (% S/U) would be 27.5% – the 2nd highest on record but down from the record high of 29.3% last year, while being up from 24.9% and 25.7% the two years prior.

E. U.S. Soybean Supply/Demand for “Old Crop” MY 2017/18 & “New Crop” MY 2018/19

The USDA released their soybean production, supply-demand and price projections for the U.S. for “old crop” MY 2017/18 in the March 8th WASDE report, for “new crop” MY 2018/19 in its February 23rd USDA Ag Outlook Forum projections, for 2018 planted acres in the March 29th Prospective Plantings report, and for November-February 2018 usage of U.S. soybeans and March 29th Grain Stocks report.   

U.S. soybean plantings are forecast to be 88.982 million acres (ma) in 2018, down from 90.142 ma in 2017, and 83.433 ma in 2016.  Harvested acres are forecast by Kansas State University to be 88.222 ma in 2018 (99.15% harvested-to-planted – latest 5 year average), down 1.45% from 89.522 ma in year 2017, but up 6.7% from 82.696 ma in 2016. 

The 2018 U.S. average soybean yield is forecast at 48.5 bu/ac, down from a KSU-adjusted estimate of 49.79 bu/ac in 2017, and from the 2016 record of 52.0 bu/acre.  This KSU adjustment to the most recent official USDA estimate on March 8th was made following the March 29th grain stocks report.  The USDA estimate of March 1, 2018 U.S. soybean stocks came in approximately 65 mb larger than trade estimates. Given that estimates of U.S. soybean domestic crush, exports, and seed use for the November-February 2018 quarter are known with some accuracy, it seems that the unexplained increase in U.S. soybean stocks on March 1st may be due to the USDA underestimating the size of the 2017 U.S. soybean crop. 

As a result, if 2017 soybean planted and harvested acreage are left unchanged, and 65 mb is added to the size of the 2017 U.S. soybean crop, then this KSU-adjusted estimate of 2017 U.S. soybean yields is raised to 49.79 bu/ac – up from the latest USDA’s official 2017 U.S. soybean yield  estimate of 49.1 bu/ac.

Soybean production in the U.S. in 2018 is forecast to be 4.279 billion bushels (bb), down from the KSU-adjusted record high of 4.457 bb in 2017 (vs the latest USDA estimate of 4.392 bb – see discussion above), but up from 4.296 bb in 2016.  After these adjustments, projected “new crop” MY 2018/19 U.S. soybean total supplies are forecast at 4.924 bb, up from a KSU-adjusted 4.783 bb in “old crop” MY 2017/18, and from 4.515 bb in MY 2016/17.  Record high U.S. soybean total use of 4.415 bb is forecast for “new crop” MY 2018/19, up from 4.163 bb in “old crop” MY 2017/18, and from 4.213 bb in MY 2016/17. 

With previously mentioned changes in 2017 U.S. soybean production resulting from the outcome of the March 29th Grain Stocks report, the KSU-adjusted USDA projection for “new crop” MY 2018/19 U.S. soybean ending stocks equals 509 million bushels (mb) (11.52% stocks/use), down from a KSU-adjusted estimate of 620 mb in “new crop” MY 2017/18 (14.89% stocks/use), but up from 302 mb in MY 2016/17 (7.17% stocks/use).  

United States’ soybean prices are projected to average $9.40 /bu in “new crop” MY 2018/19, up from $9.30 /bu in “old crop” MY 2017/18, but down from $9.47 in MY 2016/17, and comparable to $8.95 /bu in MY 2015/16, and $10.10 /bu in MY 2014/15.   It is estimated by Kansas State University that these KSU-adjusted USDA projections for “new crop” MY 2018/19 have a 55% probability of occurring.

F. Two Alternative KSU U.S. Soybean S/D Forecasts for “New Crop” MY 2018/19

To represent possible alternative outcomes from the KSU-adjusted USDA February 23rd projection for “new crop” MY 2018/19, two potential KSU-Scenarios for U.S. soybean supply-demand and prices are presented.   

KSU Scenario 1) “HIGHER 2018 U.S. Soybean Production” Scenario for “new crop” MY 2018/19 (25% probability): 

88.982 ma planted, 99.15% harvested-to-planted, 88.222 ma harvested, 52.0 bu/ac average yield, 4.588 bb production, 5.233 bb total supplies, 2.350 bb exports, 2.000 bb domestic crush, 135 mb seed & residual use, 4.485 bb total use, 748 mb ending stocks, 16.68% Stocks/Use, & $8.50 /bu U.S. soybean average price.

KSU Scenario 1) “LOWER 2018 U.S. Soybean Production” Scenario for “new crop” MY 2018/19 (20% probability): 

88.982 ma planted, 99.15% harvested-to-planted, 88.222 ma harvested, 42.0 bu/ac average yield, 3.705 bb production, 4.350 bb total supplies, 2.000 bb exports, 1.960 bb domestic crush, 135 mb seed & residual use, 4.095 bb total use, 255 mb ending stocks, 6.23% Stocks/Use, & $11.00 /bu U.S. soybean average price.  

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U.S. Ethanol and Biodiesel Market-Profitability Graphics: Through Late-March 2018

Following are some graphics on U.S. Ethanol and Biodiesel Market price and profitability trends in the , which will soon be available on the KSU AgManager website:  http://www.agmanager.info/

The full presentation titled “U.S. Ethanol & Biodiesel Market Situation” made for WILL (Illinois Public Radio) on Tuesday, March 27th and will be located at the KSU AgManager.info website – at the following web address:

http://www.agmanager.info/grain-marketing/grain-market-outlook-newsletter

 

Following are the graphics of this presentation.

 

 

KSU Ag Econ “Soybean and Cotton Market Outlook for 2018” Presentation

Following is a presentation on “Soybean & Cotton Market Outlook for 2018”.  This information was given as part of a larger “Grain Market Outlook for 2018” presentation given by Kansas State University Extension Agricultural Economist Daniel O’Brien at a Farming for the Future meeting in Pratt, Kansas on December 14, 2017.

Additional Farming for the Future conferences in Kansas are planned for December 19th in Salina, January 10th in Scott City, and January 11th in Emporia.  Registration information can be found at the following web address:

http://www.agmanager.info/events/farming-future

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The full “Grain Market Outlook for 2018” presentation is available online at the KSU AgManager website at the following web address:

http://www.agmanager.info/sites/default/files/pdf/AGEC520_GrainOutlook_10-19-17.pdf

Information on Wheat, Soybean & Cotton supply-demand and market outlook will be provided in succeeding posts.

Following is information on “Soybean and Cotton Market Outlook for 2018”: