Spring planting could turn active by late this week in the Midwest as farmers currently wait for fields to dry out and the soil to warm up, Midwest grain dealers said.
While they wait, farmers continue to sell soybeans following recent gains in Chicago futures. Most of the sales are old-crop, but some new-crop is being sold as farmers take advantage of the higher prices. Basis bids to farmers in the past week have largely been unchanged as dealers let the futures do the work.
Corn sales have been slow, both old-crop and new, after active sales weeks ago.
At river markets, soybeans and non-GMO corn are being loaded this week to go to export points, but data shows there has been an overall slowdown in barge movement as export business for corn and soybeans has shifted to South America.
USDA’s latest Grain Transportation Report said the number of grain barges going downstream in the week ended April 2 dropped 23% from the prior week.
Corn filled most of the loaded barges, followed by soybeans and then wheat. The weekly totals for corn and soybeans were down from a year ago, while year-to-date shipments are up from a year ago mainly because of more corn.
Barge rates continue to move higher with rates at upper-Mississippi points at about 340 percent of tariff versus 335 percent a week ago. At mid-Mississippi they went to 295% from 283%. They were steady on the lower Illinois at 280% and a bit higher on the Ohio at 213% versus 210% a week earlier. The rates are still down from a year ago and down from most historic averages.
On rail, the number of grain cars loaded during the week ended March 26, dropped 11% from the prior week and were down 16% from a year ago.
In the Midwest, farmers are largely finished applying anhydrous ammonia and waiting to start planting. USDA late on Monday said 2% of the corn in Illinois was planted and 24% in Missouri as of Sunday, but no other Midwest states had started. It will be at least two weeks before USDA reports soybean planting.
USDA’s weekly export inspections on Monday had corn shipments at 44.2 million bushels, up from 43 million a week ago and topped the 39.6 million pace needed to meet USDA’s annual forecast. Mexico and Japan were the leading destinations.
Soybean shipments of 14.2 million bushels were up from a week ago and higher than the pace needed to meet USDA’s annual forecast. Mexico and Indonesia were the leading destinations.
Wheat shipments of 12.5 million bushels were up slightly from a week ago and less than the 17.3 million needed to meet USDA’s annual forecast.
U.S. average diesel fuel prices were about unchanged during the week ended April 4 to stay at $2.12, but that is down 67 cents from the same week last year.
Weekly Grain Movement - April 4, 2016 - Soybean sales active, while corn sales drop
Weekly Grain Movement - March 28, 2016 - Barge rates rise as grain shipments increase