KSU Corn Market Outlook in Mid-September: Assessing 2017 Corn Supply-Demand and Price Scenario Outcomes

This article provides an analysis of U.S. and World Corn supply-demand factors and price prospects for the “New Crop” 2017/18 marketing year following the USDA’s September 12, 2017 USDA Crop Production and https://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde/latest.pdf reports.

Following is a summary of the article on “Corn Market Outlook in Mid-September 2017″ with the full article and accompanying analysis are available  on the KSU AgManager website (www.AgManager.info) at the following web address:

http://www.agmanager.info/grain-marketing/grain-market-outlook-newsletter/corn-market-outlook-mid-september-2017

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Summary

Overview

Since the USDA’s September 12th Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) reports, DEC 2017 CME corn futures prices have declined- although not by as much as may have been expected or feared following the “bearish” report results for corn supply-demand and price prospects.  CME DEC 2017 corn futures opened at $3.57 on Tuesday, September 12th – the day of the report – then traded as low as $3.45 ½ that day before closing at $0.06 lower at $3.51 ½.  Since that day, DEC 2017 corn trended first marginally higher, but since have trended essentially sideways to close at $3.51 ½ on September 18th.  

Looking back, until the August 10th USDA reports U.S. corn prices had found support due to 1) spring corn planting difficulties, 2) summer corn production problems in select parts of the U.S. Corn Belt, and 3) strong U.S. corn use for ethanol production, wet corn milling, exports and – to a moderate degree – livestock feeding.   Then when the USDA’s August 10th projection of 2017 U.S. corn production came in approximately 300 million bushels (mb) higher than average pre-report trade estimates, corn futures prices declined through the end of the month.  Once into September corn futures trended sideways within a trading range through the September 12th USDA reports.  Trade expectations coming into the September 12th report again were for the USDA to lower is 2017 U.S. corn yield and production numbers down closer to long term trend line levels in the 167-168 bu/acre range, with production closer to 14.000 billion bushels (bb).

However, in the September 12th USDA Crop Production report, the USDA projected 2017 U.S. corn yields to average 169.9 bu/ac, actually up from average pre-report trade estimates of 167.8 bu/acre.  As a result, the USDA projected 2017 U.S. corn production to be 14.184 bb. 

Since the September 12th reports, varying trade perspectives on 2017 U.S. corn production prospects have continued, but market expectations in line with the USDA projection of a “large supply – low price” scenario have predominated, leaving DEC 2017 corn futures to trade near $3.50 per bushel.  This difference between the USDA August and September 2017 yield projection and private trade expectations heightens the market’s focus on coming October and November 2017, and January 2018 USDA Crop Production reports.

During 2017 any significant corn futures or cash market price rallies in Spring 2017 have continued to be limited by expectations that ending stocks of U.S. corn will stay above 2.0 bb in “new crop” MY 2017/18, coupled with ending stocks-to-use of 15.0%-16.0%.   Drought conditions in the northern plains states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana as well as parts of Iowa and Illinois may ultimately have a negative impact on 2017 U.S. corn production, as may carryover impacts from delayed plantings in Indiana earlier in Spring 2017.  Periods of high temperatures that may have affected corn pollination in Corn Belt states in the first half of July.  But the final impact of these factors likely will not be known until the 2017 harvest actually occurs.

Kansas Cash Corn Prices & Basis Bids

In Western Kansas on Monday, September 18th cash corn bids at major grain elevators ranged from $3.15 ($0.37 under DEC futures) to $3.42 ($0.10 under DEC futures), and ranged from $2.91 ½ ($0.60 under DEC) to $3.26 ½ ($0.25 under DEC) in Central Kansas.  Even though Kansas corn prices have remained low in recent weeks, these prices still are sharply higher than in Oct-Dec 2016 when bids statewide had fallen below $3.00 per bushel – down to $2.66-$2.96 on December 23rd.  These prices were still above marketing loan rates for corn across the state, with corn loans near $2.05 in Central Kansas and $2.19 per bushel in Western Kansas

Cash corn price bids in East Central and Northeast Kansas at major terminal locations were $3.11 ½ on September 18th, actually down from the range of $3.26-$3.28 per bushel on 12/23/2016.  Cash corn bids at Kansas ethanol plants on September 18th ranged from $3.19 ¾ ($0.35 under DEC) to $3.69 ¾ ($0.15 over DEC) – indicating continuing strength in ethanol demand for corn in Kansas and nationwide.  While the “large supply and tight storage availability” situation still predominates in local Kansas grain markets, it continues to be positive that Kansas cash corn prices have avoided falling down to USDA loan rate levels.

Major Corn Market Considerations for Fall 2017 through Spring 2018

First, large beginning stocks of U.S. corn coming into “new crop” MY 2017/18 have been a “mitigating” factor limiting the response of the corn market to 2017 summer-early fall production risk.  The corn market has been less responsive to any 2017 U.S. corn production threats since beginning stocks for “new crop” MY 2017/18 have been projected to be near 2.335 bb rather than down to 1.000 bb. 

Second, it is anticipated that low prices for U.S. corn will continue to help maintain strong usage for domestic U.S. ethanol and wet milling production, as well as livestock feeding through at least spring 2018. 

Third, at least moderate continued strength is expected in U.S. corn exports due to low U.S. corn prices and also to a moderate weakening of the U.S. dollar against other World currencies.  Exports of U.S. corn are expected to continue at a “decent” pace of 1.850 bb for “new crop” MY 2017/18 even though South American corn production will continue to be a competitive factor in World trade through at least the end of 2017.  Also, preliminary forecasts for 2018 are that Brazilian corn acreage will be lower due to low prices and poor profitability in 2017 – which may have a positive effect on U.S. corn exports and price prospects later in 2018.

Fourth, a continuing threat exists of U.S. and Foreign economic and/or financial system disruptions that could impact grain, energy, and other commodity markets in 2017-2018.  World geo-political events could provide “shocks” to U.S. and World energy and grain markets which could in turn impact grain prices in either direction depending on the circumstances and the countries involved and their role in global corn export trade.

USDA Supply-Demand & Price Forecast for “New Crop” MY 2017/18

With the USDA’s continuing projection of 2017 U.S. corn plantings at 90.886 million acres or ‘ma’ (down 3.118 ma from 2016), harvested acres of 83.496 ma (down 3.252 ma), and projected yields of 169.9 bu/ac (vs the record high of 174.6 in 2016), 2017 U.S. corn production is forecast to be 14.184 bb – down from the record high of 15.148 bb in 2016.  

The USDA forecast “new crop” MY 2017/18 total supplies to be 16.585 bb – down 355 mb from last year’s record high.  Total use is forecast at 14.250 bb – down 340 mb from last year’s record high.  Ending stocks are projected to be 2.235 bb (16.38% S/U) – down from 2.350 bb (16.11% S/U) in “old crop” MY 2016/17.  United States’ corn prices are projected to average $3.20 /bu (range of $2.80-$3.60).  This is down $0.15 /bu from the midpoint estimate of $3.35 /bu from “old crop” MY 2016/17. This scenario is given a 60% likelihood of occurring by KSU Extension Agricultural Economist D. O’Brien.

Alternative KSU Supply-Demand & Price Forecast for “New Crop” MY 2017/18

Three alternative KSU-Scenarios for U.S. corn supply-demand and prices are presented for “new crop” MY 2017/18.  Each forecast scenario presents the likelihood of lower U.S. corn acreage, yields and production than projected by the USDA in the September 12, 2017 WASDE report for “new crop” MY 2017/18. 

A – KSU “New Crop” MY 2017/18 Scenario #1) “167.3 bu/ac – 13.930 bb” Scenario (35% probability) assumes: 90.753 ma planted, 83.261 ma harvested, 167.3 bu/ac trend yield, 13.930 bb production, 16.330 bb total supplies, 14.215 bb total use, 2.115 bb ending stocks, 14.88% S/U, & $3.45 /bu U.S. corn average price; 

B – KSU “New Crop” MY 2017/18 Scenario #2) “164.0 bu/ac – 13.655 bb” Scenario (5% probability) assumes: 90.753 ma planted, 83.261 ma harvested, 164.0 bu/ac yield, 13.655 bb production, 16.055 bb total supplies, 14.095 bb total use, 1.960 bb ending stocks, 13.91% S/U, & $3.60 /bu U.S. corn average price;

C – KSU “New Crop” MY 2017/18 “Wildcard” Scenario #3) “167.3 bu/ac – 13.930 bb” Scenario (???% prob.) assumes: 90.753 ma planted, 83.261 ma harvested, 167.3 bu/ac trend yield, 13.930 bb production, 16.330 bb total supplies, 13.935 bb total use, 2.395 bb ending stocks, 17.19% S/U, & $3.00 /bu U.S. corn average price;

Note: even with moderate reductions in 2017 U.S. corn production as represented in the KSU Scenarios A, B and C above, the presence of large beginning stocks of 2.350 bb in “new crop” MY 2017/18 limit the “tightness” of corn supply-demand balances, and hinders any upward price responses.

World Corn Supply-Demand – With & Without China

World corn production of 1,032.6 million metric tons (mmt) is projected for “new crop” MY 2017/18, down 3.6% from the record high of 1,071.2 mmt in “old crop” MY 2016/17, but still up 6.5% from 969.6 mmt in MY 2015/16.  Near record World corn total supplies of 1,259.6 mmt are projected for “new crop” MY 2017/18, down marginally from the record high of 1,285.1 mmt in “old crop” MY 2016/17, but up from 1,179.2 mmt in MY 2015/16. 

World corn exports of a 150.6 mmt are projected for “new crop” MY 2017/18, down 8.9% from the record high of 165.3 mmt in “old crop” MY 2016/17, and up 25.8% from 119.7 mmt in MY 2015/16.  Projected World corn ending stocks of 202.5 mmt (19.2% S/U) in “new crop” MY 2017/18 are down from the record high 227.0 mmt (21.4% S/U) in “old crop” MY 2016/17, and from 213.9 mmt (22.2% S/U) in MY 2015/16.  

An alternative view of the World corn supply-demand is presented if Chinese corn usage and ending stocks are isolated from the World market.  “World-Less-China” corn ending stocks are projected to be 121.2 mmt (14.8% S/U) in “new crop” MY 2017/18, down from 125.7 mmt (15.2% S/U) in “old crop” MY 2016/17, but up from 103.1 mmt (13.4% S/U).  These figures show that World stocks-to-use of corn less China’s direct influence are projected to be down approximately 23% (i.e., 14.8% S/U for the “World Less China” versus 19.2% S/U for the “World” overall in “new crop” MY 2017/18).  

At the same time, these figures also show that Chinese ending stocks of corn as proportion of the World total are declining – down from 51.8% in MY 2015/16, to 44.6% in “old crop” MY 2016/17, and down to 40.1% in “new crop” MY 2017/18.  The deliberate actions in recent years – taken by the Chinese government to reduce feedgrain stockpiles – is impacting the relative amount of World total corn stocks they hold.

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KSU Corn Market Outlook in Early-September: Remaining Possible 2017 Corn Crop and S/D-Price Scenario Outcomes

This article provides an analysis of U.S. and World corn supply-demand factors and price prospects for both the “New Crop” 2017/18 marketing year following the USDA’s August 10, 2017 USDA Crop Production and https://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde/latest.pdf reports as well the crop growing conditions that have occurred since those reports were released.

Following is a summary of the article on “Corn Market Outlook in Early-September 2017″ with the full article and accompanying analysis to be available early next week (Monday-Tuesday, September 4-5, 2017) on the KSU AgManager website (www.AgManager.info) at the following web address:

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

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Summary

  1. Overview

Since the USDA’s August 10th Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) reports, DEC 2017 CME corn futures have fallen sharply.  CME DEC 2017 corn futures opened at $3.85 ½ on August 12th – the day of the report – then traded as low as $3.70 ¼ that day before closing at $0.15 ¼ lower at $3.71.  Since then DEC 2017 corn trended down to a contract low of $3.44 ¼ on August 31st, before closing at $3.55 ¼ on Friday, September 1st.

Until the August 10th USDA reports U.S. corn prices had found support due to 1) spring corn planting difficulties, 2) summer corn production problems in select parts of the U.S. Corn Belt, and 3) strong U.S. corn use for ethanol production, wet corn milling, exports and – to a moderate degree – livestock feeding.

However, in the August 10th USDA Crop Production report, the USDA projected 2017 U.S. corn yields to average 169.5 bu/ac, up from a number of pre-report trade estimates of 165-168 bu/acre.  As a result, the USDA projected 2017 U.S. corn production to be 14.153 billion bushels (bb) – markedly higher than the range of 13.6 to 13.8 bb that the grain markets were anticipating.

Since the August 10th reports, varying U.S. corn production prospects have continued, but market expectations of a “large supply – low price” scenario have predominated, leading to price declines.  This difference between the USDA August 2017 yield projection and trade expectations heightens the market’s focus on coming September, October and November 2017 USDA Crop Production reports.

During 2017 any significant corn futures or cash market price rallies in Spring 2017 have been limited by expectations that ending stocks of U.S. corn will stay above 2.0 bb in “new crop” MY 2017/18, coupled with ending stocks-to-use above 15.0%-16.0%.   Drought conditions in the northern plains states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana as well as parts of Iowa and Illinois may ultimately have a negative impact on 2017 U.S. corn production, as may carryover impacts from delayed plantings in Indiana earlier in Spring 2017, and periods of high temperatures that may have affected corn pollination in Corn Belt states in the first half of July.

  1. Kansas Cash Corn Prices & Basis Bids

In Western Kansas on Friday, September 1st cash corn bids at major grain elevators ranged from $3.05 ($0.35 under SEPT futures) to $3.40 ($0.15 under DEC futures), and ranged from $2.92 ¼ ($0.63 under DEC) to $3.25 ¼ ($0.30 under DEC) in Central Kansas.  Even though Kansas corn prices have declined in recent weeks, these prices still are sharply higher than in October-December 2016 when corn price bids statewide had fallen below $3.00 per bushel – down to $2.66-$2.96 on December 23rd.  These prices were still above marketing loan rates for corn across the state, with corn loans near $2.05 in Central Kansas and $2.19 per bushel in Western Kansas.

However, cash corn price bids in East Central and Northeast Kansas at major terminal locations were in the range of $3.05 ¼ – $3.15 ¼ on September 1st, actually down from the range of $3.26-$3.28 per bushel on 12/23/2016.  Cash corn bids at Kansas ethanol plants on September 1st ranged from $3.22 ¾ ($0.35 under DEC) to $3.72 ¾ ($0.15 over DEC) – indicating continuing strength in ethanol demand for corn in Kansas and nationwide.  While the “large supply and tight storage availability” situation still predominates in local Kansas grain markets, it is a positive that Kansas cash corn prices have avoided falling down to USDA loan rate levels.

  1. Major Corn Market Considerations for Fall 2017 through Spring 2018

First, large beginning stocks of U.S. corn coming into “new crop” MY 2017/18 have been a “mitigating” factor limiting the response of the corn market to 2017 summer production risk.  The corn market has been less anxious about the adequacy of corn supplies in the face of 2017 U.S. corn production risk since beginning stocks for “new crop” MY 2017/18 have been up to 2.370 bb rather than down to 1.000 bb.

Second, it is anticipated that low prices for U.S. corn will help maintain strong usage for domestic U.S. ethanol and wet milling production, as well as livestock feeding through at least fall-winter 2017.

Third, at least moderate continued strength is expected in U.S. corn exports due to low U.S. corn prices and a moderate weakening of the U.S. dollar against other World currencies. Exports of U.S. corn are expected to continue at a “decent” pace of 1.850 bb for “new crop” MY 2017/18 even though South American corn production will continue to be a competitive factor in World trade through at least the end of 2017.  Also, preliminary forecasts for 2018 are that Brazilian corn acreage will be lower due to low prices and poor profitability in 2017 – which may have a positive effect on U.S. corn exports and price prospects.

Fourth, a possibility exists of broader U.S. and Foreign economic and/or financial system disruptions that could impact grain, energy, and other commodity markets in 2017-2018.  World geo-political events could  provide “shocks” to U.S. and World energy and grain markets which could in turn impact grain prices in either direction depending on the circumstances and the countries involved and their role in global corn export trade.

  1. USDA Supply-Demand & Price Forecast for “New Crop” MY 2017/18

With the USDA’s projection of 2017 U.S. corn plantings at 90.886 million acres or ‘ma’ (down 3.118 ma from 2016), harvested acres of 83.496 ma (down 3.252 ma), and projected yields of 169.5 bu/ac (vs the record high of 174.6 in 2016), 2017 U.S. corn production is forecast to be 14.153 bb – down from the record high of 15.148 bb in 2016.

The USDA forecast “new crop” MY 2017/18 total supplies to be 16.573 bb – down 367 mb from last year’s record high.  Total use is forecast at 14.300 bb – down 270 mb from last year’s record high.  Ending stocks are projected to be 2.273 bb (15.90% S/U) – down from 2.370 bb (16.27% S/U) in “old crop” MY 2016/17.  United States’ corn prices are projected to average $3.30 /bu (range of $2.90-$3.70).  This is down $0.05 /bu from the midpoint estimate of $3.35 /bu from “old crop” MY 2016/17. This scenario is given a 50% likelihood of occurring by KSU Extension Agricultural Economist D. O’Brien.

  1. Alternative KSU Supply-Demand & Price Forecast for “New Crop” MY 2017/18

Four alternative KSU-Scenarios for U.S. corn supply-demand and prices are presented for “new crop” MY 2017/18.  Each forecast scenario presents the likelihood of lower U.S. corn acreage, yields and production than projected by the USDA in the August 10, 2017 WASDE report for “new crop” MY 2017/18.

A – KSU “New crop” MY 2017/18 Scenario #1) “167.3 bu/ac – 13.815 bb” Scenario (35% probability) assumes: 89.886 ma planted, 82.577 ma harvested, 167.3 bu/ac trend yield, 13.815 bb production, 16.235 bb total supplies, 14.245 bb total use, 1.990 bb ending stocks, 13.97% S/U, & $3.60 /bu U.S. corn average price for “new crop” MY 2017/18;

B – KSU “New crop” MY 2017/18 Scenario #2) “164.0 bu/ac – 13.543 bb” Scenario (10% probability) assumes: 89.886 ma planted, 82.577 ma harvested, 164.0 bu/ac yield, 13.543 bb production, 15.963 bb total supplies, 14.120 bb total use, 1.843 bb ending stocks, 13.05% S/U, & $3.75 /bu U.S. corn average price for “new crop” MY 2017/18;

C – KSU “New crop” MY 2017/18 Scenario #3) “160.0 bu/ac – 13.212 bb” Scenario (4% probability) assumes: 89.886 ma planted, 82.577 ma harvested, 160.0 bu/ac yield, 13.212 bb production, 15.632 bb total supplies, 13.920 bb total use, 1.712 bb ending stocks, 12.30% S/U, & $3.85 /bu U.S. corn average price for “new crop” MY 2017/18;

D – KSU “New crop” MY 2017/18 “Wildcard” Scenario #4) “167.3 bu/ac – 13.815 bb” Scenario (1% probability) assumes: 89.886 ma planted, 82.577 ma harvested, 167.3 bu/ac trend yield, 13.815 bb production, 16.235 bb total supplies, 14.085 bb total use, 2.150 bb ending stocks, 15.26% S/U, & $3.45 /bu U.S. corn average price for “new crop” MY 2017/18;

Note: even with significant reductions in 2017 U.S. corn production as represented in the KSU Scenarios A, B, C and D above, the presence of large beginning stocks of 2.370 bb in “new crop” MY 2017/18 limit the “tightness” of corn supply-demand balances, and hinders any upward price responses.

  1. World Corn Supply-Demand – With & Without China

World corn production of 1,033.5 million metric tons (mmt) is projected for “new crop” MY 2017/18, down 1.7% from the record high of 1,070.5 mmt in “old crop” MY 2016/17, but still up 7.1% from 969.5 mmt in MY 2015/16.  Near record World corn total supplies of 1,262.1 mmt are projected for “new crop” MY 2017/18, down marginally from the record high of 1,284.0 mmt in “old crop” MY 2016/17, but up from 1,178.7 mmt in MY 2015/16.

World corn exports of a 152.0 mmt are projected for “new crop” MY 2017/18, down 6.4% from the record high of 162.4 mmt in “old crop” MY 2016/17, and up 27.1% from 119.6 mmt in MY 2015/16.  Projected World corn ending stocks of 200.9 mmt (18.9% S/U) in “new crop” MY 2017/18 are down from the record high 228.6 mmt (21.7% S/U) in “old crop” MY 2016/17, and from 213.5 mmt (22.1% S/U) in MY 2015/16.

An alternative view of the World corn supply-demand is presented if Chinese corn usage and ending stocks are isolated from the World market.  “World Less China” corn ending stocks are projected to be 119.6 mmt (14.5% S/U) in “new crop” MY 2017/18, down from 127.3 mmt (15.5% S/U) in “old crop” MY 2016/17, but up from 102.7 mmt (13.7% S/U).  These figures show that World stocks-to-use of corn less China’s direct influence are projected to be down approximately 23% (i.e., 14.5% S/U for the “World Less China” versus 18.9% S/U for the “World” overall in “new crop” MY 2017/18).

These figures also show that Chinese ending stocks of corn as proportion of the World overall is declining – down from 51.9% in MY 2015/16 to 44.3% in “old crop” MY 2016/17, and down to 40.5% in “new crop” MY 2017/18.  The deliberate actions taken by the Chinese government in recent years to reduce feedgrain stockpiles is impacting the relative amount of corn stocks they hold in the World corn market.

U.S. Ethanol and Biodiesel Market-Profitability Graphics (with Kansas-Illinois Ethanol Plant Locations)

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, August 22nd 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

Kansas & Illinois Ethanol Plant Location, Ethanol Production Capacity & Corn Usage

This presentation also includes maps with locations of ethanol plants in and near the states of Kansas and Illinois – including location, ethanol production capacity by plant, and implied corn use at full plant capacity.

Following are the graphics of this presentation.

 

 

U.S. Ethanol and Biodiesel Market-Profitability Graphics through 6/27/2017 (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/    The full presentation titled “U.S. Ethanol & Biodiesel Market Situation” made for WILL (Illinois Public Radio) on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 and will be located at the KSU AgManager.info website.

U.S. Ethanol and Biodiesel Market-Profitability Graphics through 5/26/2017 (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” was originally made for WILL (Illinois Public Radio) on Tuesday, May 30, 2017, and is located at the KSU AgManager.info website – at the following web address:

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

KSU Corn Market Outlook in Early-May: Alternative Crop Production and Price Scenarios for MY 2017/18

This article provides an analysis of U.S. and World corn supply-demand factors and price prospects for both the “new crop” 2016/17 marketing year following the USDA’s April 11, 2017 USDA Crop Production and https://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde/latest.pdf reports.

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

http://www.agmanager.info/grain-marketing/grain-market-outlook-newsletter/corn-market-outlook-early-may-2017

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Summary

Overview & Summary

Since the USDA’s April 11th World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, MAY 2017 CME corn futures have been moderately volatile – moving both higher and lower within the range of $3.54 ¼ to $3.73.  “Current” MY 2016/17 U.S. corn prices have found some support at levels above local marketing loan rates because of the positive impact that low prices have had on the use of U.S. corn in ethanol production, wet corn milling, exports and to a moderate degree in livestock feeding.   In addition, the February 23-24 USDA 2017 Agricultural Outlook Forum together with the March 31st Prospective Plantings report have forecast fewer U.S. corn planted acres in 2017, and with a return to trend line U.S. corn yields, lower 2017 U.S. corn production of 14.065 billion bushels (bb) versus the record highs of 15.148 bb in 2016.

However, projections of ending stocks of U.S. corn staying above 2 billion bushels (bb) coupled with ending stocks-to-use above 15% in both “current” MY 2016/17 and “next crop” MY 2017/18 has limited any significant corn futures or cash market price rallies to date in Spring 2017.   IF excessive moisture conditions that have developed in the U.S. Corn Belt in late April – very early May were to continue until mid-May and significantly delay planting progress – THEN increased concerns about 2017 U.S. corn production prospects could lead to higher U.S. corn prices in late-Spring – Summer 2017.

Cash corn prices at major grain elevators in central and western Kansas ranged from $3.04 to $3.31 on Monday, May 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 near $3.55 on May 1st, up from the range of $3.26-$3.28 per bushel on 12/23/2016.  Cash corn prices at Kansas ethanol plants on May 1st ranged from $3.38 to $3.73 – indicating continuing strength in ethanol demand in Kansas and nationwide.  While the “large supply and tight storage availability” situation still predominates in local Kansas grain markets, it is a positive market signal that corn usage has not declined, and that Kansas cash corn prices have enough support to have avoided falling down to USDA loan rate levels.

Other Factors Potentially Affecting the U.S. Corn Market

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 – at least until what is forecast to be a sizable 2nd crop of corn from South America becomes available on global markets during Summer 2017.
  • 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 have the potential to provide “shocks” 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 depending on which countries may be involved and their role in global corn export trade.

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

With early USDA projections of 2017 U.S. corn plantings of 89.996 million acres or ‘ma’ (down 4.0 ma).   Harvested acres of approximately 82.4 ma (down 4.35 ma) are forecast, with projected yields of 170.7 bu/ac (vs the record high of 174.6 in 2016), leading to a 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 to be 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 “current” MY 2016/17 – but within the range of $3.25-$3.55 /bu for this marketing year. 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 lower U.S. corn acreage, 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 – 13.556 bb” Scenario (25% probability) assumes: 88.500 ma planted, 81.031 ma harvested, 167.3 bu/ac trend yield, 13.556 bb production, 15.926 bb total supplies, 14.185 bb total use, 1.741 bb ending stocks, 12.27% S/U, & $3.85 /bu U.S. corn average price for “next crop” MY 2017/18;
  • KSU “Next Crop” MY 2017/18 Scenario #2) “165.0 bu/ac – 13.370 bb” Scenario (15% probability) assumes: 88.500 ma planted, 81.031 ma harvested, 165.0 bu/ac yield, 13.370 bb production, 15.740 bb total supplies, 14.080 bb total use, 1.660 bb ending stocks, 11.21% S/U, & $4.05 /bu U.S. corn average price for “next crop” MY 2017/18;
  • KSU “Next Crop” MY 2017/18 Scenario #3) “150.0 bu/ac – 12.155 bb” Scenario (5% probability) assumes: 88.500 ma planted, 81.031 ma harvested, 150.0 bu/ac yield, 12.155 bb production, 14.525 bb total supplies, 13.460 bb total use, 1.065 bb ending stocks, 7.91% S/U, & $4.75 /bu U.S. corn average price for “next crop” MY 2017/18;

World Corn Supply-Demand

Record high World corn production of 1,053.8 million metric tons (mmt) is projected for “current” MY 2016/17, up 9.4% from 963.3 mmt in MY 2015/16, and up 3.7% from 1,016.0 mmt in MY 2014/15.  Record high World corn total supplies of 1,265.6 mmt are projected for “current” MY 2016/17, up from 1,173.1 mmt in MY 2015/16, and from 1,190.8 mmt in MY 2014/15.

World corn exports of 154.4 mmt are projected for “current” MY 2016/17, up 28.7% from 120.0 mmt in MY 2015/16, and up 8.6% from 142.2 mmt in MY 2014/15.  Projected record high World corn ending stocks of 223.0 mmt (21.4% S/U) in “new crop” MY 2016/17 are up from 211.8 mmt (22.0% 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 223.0 mmt, World corn percent ending stocks-to-use are forecast to actually decline marginally to 21.4%.  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).   An ongoing, strong demand base for corn could help cause sharply increased corn market volatility in the summer of 2017 IF any serious threats emerge to the 2017 U.S. corn crop.

KSU Weekly Grain Market Analysis: U.S. Exports, Ethanol Trends and Kansas Wheat Freeze Damage Worries

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, April 28, 2017 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_04-28-17.pdf

The recorded radio program was aired at 10:03 a.m. central time, Friday, April 28, 2017 on the K-State Radio Network (KSU Agriculture Today Radio) – web player available. A copy of the April 28th recording is 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…