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:
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.