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3 Big Things Today, August 17, 2022

Soybean Futures Higher Overnight; Iowa, Illinois Crops a Mixed Bag

1. Soybean Futures Higher in Overnight Trading

Soybeans were higher in overnight trading, rebounding from yesterday's losses, amid some dry weather in parts of the central Midwest and as speculative investors go bargain hunting.

Little or no rain has fallen in some parts of the Corn Belt in the past week, according to data from the National Weather Service's precipitation page.

Much of the Dakotas, Minnesota, northern and eastern Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois all have received little or no rain in the past seven days, the weather maps show.

South-central Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and southwestern Missouri also were dry.

Still, it's not all bad news as the amount of the eastern Corn Belt suffering from drought eased last week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

About 15% of a nine-state region that includes Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky were seeing drought conditions as of Aug. 9, the monitor said. That's down from 18% a week earlier and 16% at the beginning of the year.

A six-state region in the western Corn Belt that includes Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota also saw a reduction in drought-affected areas, though by only a small margin.

About 53.1% of the area was suffering from drought conditions, down from 53.2% a week earlier, the monitor said. That's down from 65% at the start of the calendar year.

Wheat and corn futures were little changed as investors keep an eye on grain movement out of Ukraine.

More ships carrying grain have left Ukrainian ports even as Russian attacks continue in the country. An additional four ships have sailed from the ports, which reportedly brings the number of vessels that have sailed to 25 since the beginning of August.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, said in a statement yesterday that it will spend more than $68 million to buy, move and store up to 150,000 metric tons of Ukrainian wheat to help ease global food crises.

Soybean futures for November delivery rose 8 1/4¢ to $13.89 ¼ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soymeal was up $3.50 to $399.60 a short ton, while soybean oil futures gained 0.1¢ to 66.16¢ a pound.

Corn futures for December delivery rose 1/2¢ to $6.10 ¾ a bushel.

Wheat for December delivery rose 1 1/2¢ to $8.04 ¼ a bushel while Kansas City futures added 3¢ to $8.76 ¼ a bushel.

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2. Corn, Soybean Stands in Iowa and Illinois a Mixed Bag, Irwin Says

Corn and soybeans in the two largest producing states in the U.S. are a mixed bag in terms of quality so far with lush, green plants in Iowa and gray and short crops in Illinois, said Scott Irwin, an agricultural economist from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who recently went on a road trip across the region.

The worst of the crops were in the eastern half of southern Iowa, he said.

"Ouch," Irwin said in an email. "Firing well up the stalks on corn and loss of lower leaves. Lots of rolling and grey-colored corn leaves."

Soybeans also were in bad shape in the area as crops hadn't expanded enough to close 30-inch rows. Plants were lighter green, indicative of drought stress, he said.

Dryness was "easily" the biggest issue in the region.

It wasn't all bad news, however, as the quality of both corn and soybeans improved as he moved into Illinois.

The crops with the most potential were in McLean County in central Illinois, which includes the cities of Bloomington and Normal, Irwin said.

"The corn and soybean fields were a deep green and green all the way to the ground," he said. "Tall corn, high soybeans, and leaf surface area for both crops. The corn fields in McLean County looked so full that they literally seemed to be busting out of the fields.

"Of course, this was just a fly-by perspective, but what a perspective it was."

The USDA last week forecast domestic corn production for the 2022-2023 marketing year that starts on Sept. 1 at 14.359 billion bushels on yield of 175.4 bushels an acre.

Soybean output in the U.S. was pegged at 4.531 billion bushels on yield of 51.9 bushels an acre, the agency said.

"Those seem like reasonable estimates to me," he said after his tour of Iowa, Illinois and parts of Missouri.

The Ag Department also said in a report this week that corn and soybeans in Iowa were 66% and 63% good or excellent, respectively. In Illinois, a whopping 73% of corn received top ratings as did 69% of soybeans.

Based on what he saw, crops are probably of lower quality in Iowa and higher quality in Illinois than the report indicated, said Irwin, who holds the Laurence J. Norton Chair of Agricultural Marketing in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the university.

"The good-to-excellent (ratings) for Iowa seem a bit high to me and Illinois might be a bit low," he said. "If there are errors they probably offset across the two states."

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3. Isolated Storms Expected in Southern Michigan Wednesday

Isolated thunderstorms are forecast for parts of lower Michigan this afternoon, though no severe weather is expected, according to the National Weather Service.

Storms will move toward the south and southwest at 10 to 15 miles an hour today, the NWS said in a report early this morning. More storms are possible on Friday in the area and into the weekend.

Further south and west, strong storms are expected to fire up in parts of northeastern Nebraska tomorrow afternoon and evening, the agency said.

"The main hazards are hail and gusty winds," the NWS said. "The chance for non-severe storms will remain in the forecast on Friday and Saturday, mainly in southwest Iowa and far-eastern Nebraska."

Extremely hot weather is expected today in parts of southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana today.

Heat indexes in the area are forecast to reach as high as 108 degrees Fahrenheit, the agency said.  

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