Brooks Schaffer Market Report for Tuesday March 26

This is the Market Report with Brooks Schaffer of Palmetto Grain. Reach him at [email protected] or 843-540-4540.

Markets are trading with a noticeably lower volume as we wait for the biggest report so far in 2024. The USDA Prospective Planting and Quarterly Stocks Report that comes out this Thursday at noon followed by no trade on Good Friday. Whatever happens at noon on Thursday will have to be fully priced in by the close or traders will have to wait three days before getting to trade it. This report has potential and a history of being a big market mover but we have no clue if this year will be one of those years until after we see the numbers.

We did get the trade expectations for the report and the range of the expectations is very wide indicating no consensus on what people expect USDA to give us. We have seen some private estimates based on survey data from analysts for acreage but no one matches the scale of USDA’s survey data so they are little more than darts right now. Remember the reaction of the market depends on how the actual USDA number compares to what was expected. We assume the market has already priced in those expectations. So even if the number, acreage or stocks looks really big, it’s only bearish if it’s more than what was expected. The average estimate for corn acreage is 91.766 million acres. That is 776,000 less acres than USDA used at the outlook conference and 2.868 million less acres than we grew last year. The range of the estimates vary from 90.0 on the low side to 93.472 on the high side which is a very wide range indicating there is little consensus. The lack of consensus increases the odds of a surprise. For soybeans, the average estimate is 86.530 million acres which is 1 million acres less than USDA used at the outlook conference and almost 3 million more acres than we planted last year. The range of those estimates vary from 84.3 on the low side and 86.53 on the high side. There is more consensus in the market about what we are going to see on the beans than the corn, that does not mean we cannot get a surprise. Everyone can be just as wrong as a few. USDA will use these acreage numbers when they release the first iteration of new crop balance sheets on the April Supply and Demand report that comes out on April 11th at noon.

We will also get quarterly stocks on this report which will give us an indication if we are on pace to meet USDA’s demand side estimates. Any big surprise on the stocks side will be reflected in adjustments to demand on the April supply and demand report.

Soybeans have been the big mover in the last few sessions. We got a 20 cent rally in the middle of last week. Many analysts pointed to excessive rains in Argentina, strength in palm oil as the main reasons for the rally. Adding to those reasons there were also some rumors of recent position squaring by one of China’s biggest grain dealers that may also help explain some of the strength. On Friday of last week, the weather models backed off some of the excessive moisture and that helped spark a lot of the selling that pressured beans to finish last week. Soy product weakness added momentum to the selloff. Then on Monday, we gained back Friday’s loss. News remains limited and with the light volume, we are just biding time until the report on Thursday.