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By Tori Uhland

April 26, 2024

It’s been another quiet week in the ag markets with most of the trade just watching the weather. At the time of this writing, weather models were forecasting heavy rains across the central US for the weekend with a bias for eastern Kansas. They still showed limited rains for western Kansas, though other hard red winter wheat areas including most of Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, and eastern Colorado were expecting good amounts of moisture. We can now see whether or not that came to fruition, along with the follow-up rain event expected in western Kansas mid-week this week. The wetness across the corn belt this week and next may slow down some planting progress.

The wheat markets have been supported by weather concerns in the US and Russia, two of the largest exporters in the world. The ongoing dryness concerns have led to some short covering by the funds, meaning they have bought back some of the futures they previously sold. This has given a boost to all wheat classifications which has helped to prop up the corn and bean markets as well.

India has been struggling to replenish their wheat stocks with their own production, which has raised the prospect of the possibility of importing supplies. This has also been supportive for prices. The rain and colder temperatures in the Midwest has been somewhat supportive of corn and bean prices as there are concerns that it could hinder planting progress. However, in the April 22 crop progress report, the USDA reported that 8 percent of the US soybean crop was planted, which was ahead of expectations. The trade is also continuing to monitor Argentina’s corn harvest with the leafhopper damage concerns.

U.S. export sales for corn came in strong last week at 1.3 million metric tons (MMT) or 51.2 million bushels and was the best posting in 10 weeks. This was above market expectations, and a significant improvement from the poor sales of the previous two weeks of 19.7 million and 12.8 million bushels respectively. Total commitments for this year rose 19.6 percent to 1.81 billion bushels compared to last year’s 1.514 billion. This was the largest year-over-year increase in six weeks but still shy of the 2.1 billion bushel export projection number from the USDA. The 2.1 billion bushel projection reflects an expected increase of 26.4 percent in corn exports for the year.

Soybean export sales were a little disappointing at 7.7 million bushels. They fell from the previous week of 17.8 million bushels and were the second lowest in the last 8 weeks. Soybean meal sales were solid at 308 thousand tons and the best in eight weeks. Soybean oil sales were strong and the second largest weekly sale in the marketing year so far at 16.2 thousand tons. Old crop wheat sales were minimal at 3.0 million bushels, but that wasn’t unexpected as there are only six weeks left in the marketing year for wheat. New crop sales were at the higher end of market expectations and brought total sales for 2024-25 to 79 million bushels, which is better than last year’s historically weak new crop sales of only 37 million bushels at this time.

The cattle market traded to its highest level since April 1 last Monday but has failed to build on those gains. The cattle market may be feeling pressure from reports that the US government will now require dairy cattle moving between states to be tested for bird flu. Hogs made a contract high on April 10, but funds were holding a near-record long as of April 16, which leaves the market vulnerable to selling.

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