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USDA reports mix up the grains

Jeff Caldwell 09/12/2013 @ 11:06am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

USDA sees a 3.15-billion-bushel soybean crop coming out of U.S. fields this fall, while corn production's seen at 13.8 billion bushels, according to Thursday's monthly USDA-NASS Crop Production report. That corn number is up less than 1% from last month's, but the soybean number is 3% lower than last month's estimate.

"Corn production is forecast at 13.8 billion bushels, up less than 1% from the August forecast and up 28% from 2012. If realized, this will be a new record production for the U.S. Based on conditions as of September 1, yields are expected to average 155.3 bushels per acre, up 0.9 bushels from the August forecast and 31.9 bushels above the 2012 average. If realized, this will be the highest average yield since 2009," according to Thursday's report. "Area harvested for grain is forecast at 89.1 million acres, unchanged from the August forecast but up 2% from 2012."

The soybean crop, on the other hand, will be the fourth largest in U.S. history, USDA says. "Based on September 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 41.2 bushels per acre, down 1.4 bushels from last month but up 1.6 bushels from last year. Area for harvest in the U.S. is forecast at 76.4 million acres, unchanged from August but up slightly from 2012," according to Thursday's report.

Immediate trade response was mixed, bearish for corn but bullish for soybeans, which saw earlier losses trimmed heading into the report Thursday morning, showing traders anticipated a bullish number, analysts say.

Soybean bulls were the initial benefactors of the report also based on an already-tight demand picture for soybeans, says Sal Gilbertie, president and CIO of Teucrium Trading.

"Today’s report suggests that new-crop soybean production is apparently not enough to both satisfy steady global demand for soy products and replenish the current tight soybean ending stock levels, which leaves us with continued tightness in the soybean balance sheet for the coming crop year," Gilbertie says.

But the bullishness in the market for soybeans -- just one of several oilseeds produced and entering the pipeline around the world -- will see a distinct end, says grain market analyst and broker for U.S. Commodities, Don Roose.

"What [Thursday's report] really says is you take out the old highs. If so, you have to have a yield falling below 40 [bushels/acre]. We have big oilseed crops around the world. South America is planting more soybeans. We have a six-month window."

A corn crop that's slightly higher in size has folks split. Some say it's difficult to believe the crop has gained anything in size overall, but others say the drought stress of recent weeks hasn't slashed the nationwide crop size, thereby justifying Thursday's estimate.

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