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3 Big Things Today, March 31

Soybeans Lower, Grains Higher; USDA Likely to Raise Bean Acres at Corn’s Expense.

1. Soybeans Lower, Corn Slightly Higher Ahead of Friday USDA Reports

Soybeans were slightly lower while grains were modestly higher in overnight trading ahead of today’s Grain Stocks Report and Prospective Plantings Report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  

Many investors are staying on the sidelines ahead of the reports, which are expected to show a jump in soybean acres in the U.S. and a decline in corn and wheat area.

Competition from Brazil is likely capping soybean prices, as both countries are expected to produce large crops. Brazil is forecast by the USDA to produce a record 108 million metric tons. Prices at ports in the Gulf of Mexico are reportedly nearing five-year lows as exporters attempt to attract overseas buyers.

The U.S. is expected to produce 117.2 million tons of soybeans. 

Soybean futures fell 2¢ to $9.61 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal rose 30¢ to $315.20 a short ton, and soy oil dropped 0.25¢ to 31.76¢ a pound.

Corn rose a penny to $3.58½ a bushel in Chicago.

Wheat futures for May delivery added 1¼¢ to $4.22¼ a bushel in Chicago. Kansas City wheat gained 1½¢ to $4.18¾ a bushel.

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2. USDA Expected to Raise Bean Acreage Forecast, Lower Corn Area, Analysts Say

Area planted with soybeans is expected to jump this year while corn acreage declines, according to analysts surveyed by Reuters.

Producers are expected to plant 88.2 million acres with beans this year, up from 83.4 million last year, the survey said. The range of estimates was from 86.4 million to 89.3 million.

Much of the increase in area will come from corn that will be sown on about 91 million acres, a sharp decline from 94 million last year, analysts said. The range of estimates was entirely below last year’s area from 90 million to 92.5 million acres.

The USDA also will report quarterly grains stockpiles at noon in Washington, D.C.

Inventories of corn in storage in the U.S. on March 1 likely totaled 8.53 billion bushels, up from 7.82 billion on the same date a year earlier, according to analysts. The range of estimates was wide from 8.21 billion to 8.9 billion.

Soybean stockpiles at the start of the month probably totaled 1.68 billion bushels, according to the survey, up from 1.53 billion a year earlier. The range of estimates was from 1.63 billion to 1.89 billion.

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3. Thunderstorms Return to Southern Plains, Illinois May See Flooding

Thunderstorms are expected in the Southern Plains, while flooding may occur in parts of Illinois from rain that’s already fallen, according to the National Weather Service.

Storms are expected to return after a one-day break to parts of southwestern Kansas and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles.

“Thunderstorms are expected in northwest sections of the combine panhandles this afternoon,” the NWS said in an early Friday forecast. “Chances for thunderstorms will increase this evening and overnight to include all of the panhandles. Some of the storms, particularly across northern sections, may be strong to marginally severe with hail and gusty winds possible. Brief heavy rains will also be possible.”

In Illinois, as much as 2 inches of rain fell in parts of the state in the past 36 hours and more is expected, the NWS said. The Illinois River in Henry is at 17.3 feet and is expected to rise to 23.5 feet by Monday afternoon due to upstream precipitation, which would be above its 23-foot flood stage, the agency said.

Minor flooding is expected near Peoria early next week as the river breaches the flood stage of 18 feet, reaching a crest of 19 feet on Tuesday, according to the NWS.

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