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Export pace strong for corn, soybeans

11/04/2013 @ 11:32am

In the September WASDE report, the USDA forecast 2013-14 marketing year exports at 1.225 billion bushels for corn and 1.37 billion bushels for soybeans. The strong pace of exports and especially export sales so far this year has created expectations of larger forecasts in the WASDE report to be released on November 8.

As of October 31, the USDA reported that cumulative corn export inspections for the marketing year that began on September 1 totaled 206.7 million bushels. Cumulative inspections were 30% larger than those of last year and represented 17% of the current USDA projection for the year. Cumulative export commitments -- exports plus unshipped export sales-- as of October 24 were reported at 808 million bushels. Those commitments were 88% larger than commitments of a year earlier and represented 66% of the USDA projection for the year. Compared to commitments of a year ago, commitments this year are 138 million bushels larger for China, 125 million larger for Mexico, and 88 million bushels larger for unknown destinations. Sales to China represent nearly 22% of the total sales, compared to only 8% last year.

As of October 31, the USDA reported that cumulative soybean export inspections for the marketing year that began on September 1 totaled 338.5 million bushels. Cumulative inspections were 9% smaller than those of last year and represented 25% of the current USDA projection for the year. Cumulative export commitments -- exports plus unshipped export sales-- as of October 24, however, were reported at a whopping 1.184 billion bushels. Those commitments were 25% larger than commitments of a year earlier and represented 86% of the USDA projection for the year. Compared to commitments of a year ago, commitments this year are 160 million bushels larger for China and 51 million larger for unknown destinations. About 14 million bushels have been sold to Russia, compared to none last year. Sales to China represent 62% of the total sales compared to 61% last year.

Export sales of corn and soybeans have been quite large early in the marketing year, but the question is, is early-year export activity a good predictor of total marketing year exports? The short answer is no. Seasonal export shipment and sales patterns vary considerably from year to year. Over the 10 years from 2003-04 through 2012-13, for example, corn exports during the first quarter of the marketing year averaged 26% of the total for the year, but ranged from 22% to 30%. The pattern of sales was even more varied. Cumulative export sales at the end of the first quarter of the marketing year averaged 49% of the total exports for the marketing year, but ranged from 36% to 66%.

Soybean exports during the first quarter of the marketing year averaged 36% of the total for the year, but varied from 28% to 47%. As with corn, the pattern of sales was even more varied. Cumulative export sales at the end of the first quarter of the marketing year averaged 63% of the total exports for the marketing year, but ranged from 48% to 82%.

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