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3 Big Things Today, January 11

Wheat Futures Fall Overnight; Ethanol Production Drops While Stocks Increase.

1. Wheat Falls Overnight as Snowfall May Offer Protection From Cold

Wheat futures were lower in overnight trading on speculation that snowfall in areas where winter varieties are grown will offer some protection from forecast cold weather.

Snow is expected in the Central Plains and eastern Midwest heading into the weekend, according to the National Weather Service, which will provide some defense from winter weather.

Extremely cold temperatures the last week of December likely caused extensive winterkill damage, and another round of freezing weather is expected early next week. Wheat plants that have a protective layer of snow, however, are less at risk for winterkill.

Corn and soybeans were little changed in overnight trading.

Wheat for March delivery fell 2¢ to $4.32¼ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Kansas City futures lost 1½¢ to $4.39 a bushel.

Soybeans for March delivery rose ¼¢ to $9.55¼ a bushel overnight. Soy meal added 30¢ to $316.70 a short ton, and soy oil declined 0.06¢ to 33.39¢ a pound.

Corn futures rose ¼¢ to $3.49¼ a bushel overnight.

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2. Ethanol Production Plunges in First Week of January, Stocks Rise

Ethanol production in the first week of December plunged, dropping below an average of 1 million barrels a day for the first time in three months, while stockpiles rose.

U.S. output in the seven days that ended on January 5 fell to 996,000 barrels a day, on average, the Energy Information Administration said in a report. That’s the lowest since the week that ended on October 6.

Ethanol production had been at extremely high levels throughout December, even reaching a record during the first week of the month then falling only slightly week to week.

Inventories of the biofuel totaled 22.719 million barrels last week, up from 22.619 million seven days earlier, according to the EIA.

In a December report, the USDA raised its projection for the amount of corn used to make ethanol. The government will release its monthly report tomorrow, and analysts don’t expect the USDA to change its projection on how much of the grain will be used to produce the biofuel.

In other news, the government will release its weekly Export Sales Report. Corn sales are pegged from 350,000 to 650,000 metric tons, soybean sales are seen from 500,000 tons to 850,000 tons, and wheat sales are expected from 250,000 to 450,000 tons, according to Allendale.

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3. Winter Weather Slams Much of Northern U.S. With Snow, Winds, Extreme Cold

Much of the northern half of the country is getting belted by winter weather again this morning, as storm watches and warnings abound.

A blizzard warning and a winter storm warning are now in effect for parts of eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota, according to the National Weather Service. Snowfall, winds of up to 45 mph and wind chills as low as -40˚F. are expected.

“The heaviest snow will shift into parts of northwest Minnesota early this morning with light snow elsewhere, ending from west to east this morning," the NWS said. “North winds will continue gusty in the Red River Valley with gusts 35 to 40 mph, causing considerable blowing and drifting snow and areas of blizzard conditions through midmorning.”

Farther south, winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories are in effect for pretty much the entire central U.S. Warnings stretch from extreme eastern Colorado all the way to Maine.

The winter weather also dips as low as northern Mississippi, according to NWS maps.

In the Southern Plains, snow in parts of western Kansas will come to an end this morning, though what fell may offer some protection for winter wheat in the region. Snow also fell in the eastern Midwest, which may provide a blanket for overwintering grain.

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