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3 Big Things Today, January 4

Wheat Futures Lower Overnight; Corn Used in Ethanol, Booze Increased in November.

1. Wheat Declines Overnight as Temperatures Moderate in Plains, Midwest

Wheat futures were lower in overnight trading as temperatures rise in the Southern Plains, keeping further winterkill damage at bay after near-record cold in the past several days.

Winter wheat in the eastern Midwest and Southern Plains that didn’t have a protective layer of snow was most likely hurt by extremely low temperatures in the past few days when wind chills reached as low as -20˚F.

Temperatures today are expected to be in the high-40s and low-50s in southwestern Kansas, limiting further winterkill damage to hard red winter varieties that are overwintering. Still, temperatures at night will be in the upper teens for a few more days in both the Southern Plains and eastern Midwest, according to the National Weather Service, which might affect uncovered wheat. 

More extreme weather is on the way for parts of the extreme eastern edge of the Winter Wheat Belt, which may cause spotty damage, but the impact will be limited, forecasters have said.

Wheat for March delivery fell 1¾¢ to $4.34¼ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Kansas City futures declined 1¼¢ to $4.39¾ a bushel.

Corn futures fell ½¢ to $3.52½ a bushel overnight.

Soybeans for March delivery dropped 2¼¢ $9.66½ a bushel. Soy meal lost 50¢ to $318.10 a short ton, and soy oil declined 0.09¢ to 33.81¢ a pound.


2. Corn Used to Make Ethanol, Alcohol For Human Consumption Rose in November

The amount of corn used to make fuel alcohol, or ethanol as it’s more commonly known, rose in November from the prior month and previous year, according to the USDA.

U.S. ethanol producers consumed 475.7 million bushels of corn in November, up from 470.1 million in October. Manufacturers of the biofuel used 452 million bushels of corn during the same month a year earlier, the USDA said in a report.

Production of ethanol has risen in recent weeks, reaching a record in early December, which led to the USDA increasing its estimate for the amount of corn that would be used to produce the biofuel in the 2017-2018 marketing year.

It seems Americans are drinking more corn-based booze, as well. About 3.45 million bushels of corn were used to make beverage alcohol in November, up 16% from the prior month and 3% from November 2016, the government said.

Corn consumption for alcohol and other uses totaled 525 million bushels during the month, up 1% from October.

Dry-milled production of DDGs with solubles was reported at 2 million tons, up 2% from the month earlier and up slightly from November 2016.

Wet DGs of 65% or more moisture totaled 1.38 million tons in November, up 3% from the prior month and 7% from the same month a year earlier, according to the USDA.


3. East Coast Gears Up For Extreme Winter Weather, Midwest Stays Cold Thursday

While the so-called bomb cyclone continues to pound the East Coast with a wintry blast, it remains cold in the Corn Belt.

The Middle Atlantic and northeastern U.S. are in for blizzard conditions that include snow and gusty winds. Coastal flooding is expected, especially during high tide, and travel isn’t recommended as wind chills will be bitter, the National Weather Service said. The so-called bomb cyclone brought rare snow and ice to parts of the southeastern U.S., including Florida and Georgia, on Wednesday. 

In parts of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, wind chill warnings are still in effect.

Wind chills in the region will fall as low as -25˚F. this morning with sustained winds from 5 to 10 mph, the NWS said in a report early Thursday morning.

Farther north in Minnesota, wind chills are expected to be as low as -45˚F. this morning. Frostbite can occur quickly on exposed skin, the NWS said.

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