Farmers sold a lot of soybeans in the past week, while corn sales dropped sharply following Thursday’s USDA report with the bearish increase in corn acres, Midwest grain dealers said on Monday.
Most of the soybean sales were old-crop supplies, but new-crop sales have been more common now that higher Chicago’s new-crop futures lifted some cash bids past $9 a bushel.
At river markets, the soybeans are going downstream to export points even as basis bids at the Gulf have dropped about 6 cents in the past week.
“We have been loading soybeans every day,” said a barge shipper on the Mississippi. He said bids at the gulf are about 33 cents over the May versus 39 to 40 over a week ago.
Corn bids at the gulf are up about 3 cents from a week ago at about 45 over May.
Barge rates continue to move higher with rates at upper-Mississippi points about 300 percent of tariff versus 275 to 280 percent a week ago. The good news for shippers is that the rates are still down from a year ago and from historic averages.
USDA’s weekly Grain Transportation report as of Friday said as March 29 barge rates for export grain from major interior origins are between 29% and 57% below the 5-year average. Barge operators have indicated a continued weakened demand for barges that began late October- early November, it said.
“St. Louis export grain barge rates were 210 percent of tariff ($8.38 per ton), 44 percent lower than the 5-year average of 302 percent of tariff ($12.05 per ton) last week,” it said. “Barge rates did see a rally during the last 2 weeks as barge supply was adjusting to more traffic to the open portions of the upper Mississippi River.”
Barge demand for grains has increased, with USDA reporting that for the week ended March 26, barge grain movements totaled 779,706 tons, up 52 percent from the week before and up 25% from the same period last year. For that week, 500 grain barges moved down river, up 53% from the previous week.
Much of the demand has been for corn with USDA reporting 515,000 tons shipped by barge last week, compared with 397,000 a year ago. Add in wheat and soybeans and the week’s total was 780,000 tons versus 623,000 a year ago. The soybeans shipments last week were 218,000 tons versus 191,000 a year ago.
In the Midwest, farmers were actively applying anhydrous ammonia to fields. There was some scattered planting in Illinois near St. Louis this weekend, but the main thrust of that effort is about a week away when crop insurance coverage kicks in.
There appears to be ample moisture in most areas, but Iowa dealers said soil temperatures need to come up before farmers will be comfortable planting.
USDA’s weekly export inspections on Monday had corn shipments at 41.5 million bushels, up from 38.9 million a week ago and topped the 40 million pace needed to meet USDA’s annual forecast. Japan, Mexico, and South Korea were the leading destinations, plus Saudi Arabia and Egypt bought sizable amounts.
Soybean shipments of 7.5 million bushels were down sharply from a week ago and were slightly better than the pace needed to meet USDA’s annual forecast. China was the leading destination but that business was down from previous weeks.
Wheat shipments of 11.7 million bushels were slightly down from a week ago and less than the 17.5 million needed to meet USDA’s annual forecast.
The grain transportation report said during the week ending March 31, U.S. average diesel fuel prices were unchanged from the previous week at $2.12 per gallon. That is down 70 cents from the same week last year.
Weekly Grain Movement - March 28, 2016 - Barge rates rise as grain shipments increase
Weekly Grain Movement - March 22, 2016 - Higher barge freights weigh on bids to farmers