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A smaller soybean crop, a slightly corn crop and a larger wheat crop. That's what USDA officials expect out of the fields this year, if Wednesday's USDA-NASS monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report is any indication.
In terms of grain stocks pegged in Wednesday's report, there's more wheat on hand than earlier expected, more soybeans than expected and about as many bushels as the trade expected heading into Wednesday's data.
For all intents and purposes, corn planting is wrapped up for this year. As of Sunday, only 5% of the crop remains unplanted, slightly more than normal and just 3% above last week. Of the crop planted, 84% has emerged, about 5% above normal and a 10% increase in the last week, according to Monday's USDA-NASS weekly Crop Progress report.
In terms of crop conditions, corn's unchanged over the last week, with 74% in good or excellent condition.
After a week featuring off-and-on rainfall -- in many spots in the Midwest enough to keep planters and sprayers parked at the field's edge -- it looks like the moisture's going to continue through much of the weekend, allowing a few chances for fieldwork to resume but keeping up the wet trend of the last couple of weeks for the region. And, that's not the best news in the world for farmers with corn and soybeans left to plant.
Friday's announcement of the paring-down of the ethanol mandate and increase in biodiesel usage through 2016 and 2017, respectively, is rooted in the market demand for both fuels in the broader context of the fuels sector in general, according to one key variable.
On the same day leaders of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced they're trimming the RFS ethanol mandate for the next 3 years but increasing biodiesel's share of the mandate, USDA officials jumped into the renewable fuels fray Friday, announcing new funding for the establishment of blender pumps around the nation that they hope will help grow demand for the homegrown fuels.
In a move federal officials say will help better match up renewable fuel use with production, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leaders announced a new set of usage mandates for ethanol and biodiesel as part of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) for the next 2 years.
Essentially, the adjustment pares down the ethanol mandate through the end of 2016, the point at which it will be "back on the statutory timeline," says Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation.
Net income was down almost 8% for the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2014, but farmers generally remain on relatively solid financial footing in the eastern Corn Belt and mid-South.
The long-anticipated El Niño is finally materializing into more than just a weak formation.
Heading into Tuesday's report -- delayed a day by the Memorial Day holiday on Monday -- trade expectations were around 90% completion for corn planting.