Weekly Grain Update – June 21, 2018

6/21/18

Grain Markets Have Finally Stabilized At Much Lower Levels.  Let’s Prepare To Pull The Trigger On Final New Crop Bushels Once Prices Rebound.

Rumors surfaced this week that the Trump administration is considering adding a 10% tariff on an additional $200 B worth of Chinese goods if in fact China retaliates to the 25% tariffs on $50 B worth of Chinese goods scheduled to be implemented on July 6th.  As you can guess, the grain markets and the equity markets did not find comfort in this news, with all major markets selling off in a big way.  News is also surfacing that Trump is asking the CCC to put a package together to reimburse farmers for the market values that have recently been lost due to this trade war.  More to come on this.  Since Memorial Day, the funds have been avoiding buying grain futures at any cost.  They had a long position prior to Memorial Day of roughly 200,000 contracts long in corn and 100,000 contracts long in beans.  Since then, they have sold off their entire long position and now have a sizable short position of approximately 100,000 contracts in both commodities.  This is a huge and vast reversal in position, and all of this selling pressure helps to explain why our grain markets have crashed since Memorial Day.

Obviously, the trade war with China is the lead story, but our inability to renegotiate a new NAFTA deal is also weighing on the market.  Canada and Mexico buy a huge amount of commodities from the US and not having them fully engaged to buy our grains and livestock is problematic for ag producers.  On top of this, the current corn and bean crop is off to a fantastic start, with beans being planted at the earliest pace ever, and with crop conditions just wildly good at this point in the growing season.  On Monday, the USDA pegged the corn crop at 78% good to excellent and the bean crop at 73% good to excellent.  Rarely are conditions this high for both corn and beans.  Additionally, most all of the Corn Belt received nice rains over the weekend and as I look at the current US Drought Monitor, I can see no significant area in the entire Corn Belt that does not have adequate water.  So, we are sitting here on June 20th with crop conditions off the charts, adequate moisture everywhere, corn and bean populations all very good, and a crop that is now growing at the 5-year average maturity.  There are no problems to speak of with the crop.  The next potential issue is dryness around the corn pollination period of July 10th – 20th this year, and the bean pod filling season around July 20th to Aug 10th.  If dry weather or heat surfaces during these times, it will add support to the market.  Until then, things look good and helps to explain why futures have spiraled out of control as of late.

The next major USDA report will be next Friday, June 29th at 11 am CST.  On this day, the USDA will update the trade on June 1st grain stocks and update the corn and bean planted acres for this growing year.  These acres will then be used on future crop reports as the base for the supply and demand estimates.  This report on the 29th usually causes a very volatile market session at Chicago after the numbers are released because the adjustments in corn and bean acreage causes major changes in the anticipated carryout’s for both this year and next.  Looking ahead, I see corn exports remaining very strong and feed demand remaining very strong in the corn market.  I would not be surprised to see corn carryout being trimmed back, especially for old crop.  On beans, I see nothing but a growing carryout on old and new crop.  This whole situation with China not buying our beans is a big deal because we need them to buy our beans.  Frankly, it is this single issue which has caused our markets to crash over the last 3 weeks.  If the Chinese tariff issue does not get worked out, I can see next year’s bean carryout being in the 7-800 M bu range, which is just enormous, and will weigh on prices.  In fact, this is probably what the market is anticipating considering what the bean market has done in the last 3 weeks, dropping a whopping $1.68 since then.  This is unprecedented, and unfortunately, many producers find themselves in a pickle because they did not sell enough new crop beans when the market presented them with the opportunity.

Fortunately, the market seemed to finally capitulate on Tuesday, with July bean futures trading down 66 cents at one point during the session, to a low of $8.41, but only closed the day being 16 cents lower.  This abrupt move significantly lower, and the popping right back is characteristic of a market finding solid support and new buying interest.  All of the weak players finally have now been stopped out, washed out, and now no longer playing the game.  Unfortunately, this leaves a market that is thinner than normal and illiquid, where a few big players can push the market around in big ways.  There are many traders who are now licking their wounds and thinking twice about trading grain futures again.  The more players we have, the more liquidity the market has and should result in less volatility.  It will take time for this to build back up.

Unfortunately, the market has left many of you with not enough grain sold and now are being forced to deal with much lower prices.  Now, we need to figure out how to make the best of this situation and put a salvage plan together to save your farm.  Many times, when a market crashes like we have seen, the market will go down and hit solid support, and then bounce back.  The market will usually bounce back 50 to 61.8% from the low point to the previous high.  I call this 50 – 61.8% retrace area the target box.  The market will likely trade into this box before resuming the downward trend.  Keep in mind that once we make it into this box, and it could be very briefly, the resuming sell off could be very significant and more powerful than what we just witnessed over the last 3 weeks.  This is hard to imagine, but the entire professional grain trade will be looking at the same set of numbers.  So where is the target box for Dec ’18 corn futures and Nov ’18 bean futures?  Let’s look at the charts.  On Dec corn, the previous high was $4.29 and the low just hit was at $3.60.  Thus, the target box for Dec corn is from $3.94 to $4.02.  On Nov beans, the high was $10.60 and the low was $8.64.  The target box here is $9.62 to $9.85.  Using the new crop corn basis at Readfield at 40 cents under on corn and 75 cents under on beans put the cash target box on corn at $3.54 to $3.62.  On beans, the cash target box is $8.87 to $9.10.  Please get a pen and write these numbers down.

For those of you who find yourself not having enough grain sold for new crop, what you need to do is relatively simple.  You need to assume trend line yields at this point, subtract off the number of bushels that you have sold for new crop, and find out the total number of corn and bean bushels that still need to be sold.  Then, once you know what these bushel totals are, you need to place firm targets to sell these bushels in the target box listed above.  It is critical that you deal with this issue today, and get a firm understanding of what your risk position is for your grain production.  It is also critical that you place a FIRM target to sell at the above levels because the market could be at this level only for 20 minutes at 3 am on July 10th.  The only way your target will get filled is if it is a firm target.  The firm target will prevent you from becoming bullish, right at the very top of the market, when you need to be selling bushels, and not pulling your targets.  The obvious risk is that you don’t sell because you are bullish, and then the market abruptly crashes, and you are level unprotected and exposed with no other selling opportunities.  You can enter this target on your own, in our online target bid center, or you can call us and we can enter it for you.  Either way will work.  But the critical piece is to find out what you must sell, and then get firm targets to sell in the above target box.  This will save your farm.

New Arrive Delayed Price Rates have Been Reduced

We have reduced our Delayed Price rates for new arrive corn and beans into Readfield and Center Valley.  These rates are for new arrive bushels only, and the rate will be in effect until Oct 1st 2018 when new crop storage rates will go into effect.  The new Delayed Price rate is now 60 days FREE, and then 3 cents flat per month thereafter.

Targets Produce Success and Protection For Your Farm

Weather markets will push the market around like a yoyo and produce unprecedented volatility.  However, volatility can be your friend if you have a solid marketing plan and know how much and at what price you feel comfortable selling when the right opportunities present themselves.  If you are not working with one of our grain originators today, please give us a call.  We will gladly sit down with you to create a plan and help you protect your farm.  For a list of our grain originators and the one closest to you, please click here.  These types of volatile markets are a grain marketer’s dream.  The volatility present selling opportunities that are very short lived.  For the disciplined marketer, who knows exactly what commodity he needs to sell and at what level, this is a perfect scenario.  You simply place target orders in our system and at 3 am in the morning next Thursday while China makes an announcement when we are all sleeping, the markets ramps up, hits your target, locks in your contract price, all automatically while you are in bed.  How fantastic is that!  I encourage all of you to start using our online target system.  Its free, easy, and will protect your farm.  Please click here for more information.

Have You Sold Enough New Beans Yet?  Make Values Even Better With Cash Plus Contracts

If you still have new beans to sell, please check out our Cash Plus Contracts.  We can add a premium to your new crop bean sales price in exchange for an offer to sell more new beans if November Bean futures close above a certain level on Oct 24th.  These contracts will allow you to sell new beans today with a 20 cent premium added to the new crop cash price in exchange for an offer to sell the same quantity of new crop bean futures around $9.45 if on Oct 24th, the November bean futures close at or above this level.  If futures close below this level, you get to keep this entire premium, and you don’t have any other obligation.  So it is a win-win for you.  You get to keep the 20 cent premium paid to you on top of the current new crop bean price, and if on Oct 24th, depending on what November bean futures trade at the close on this date, you might be able to keep this entire premium free and clear.  The worst case is that you would have the same bushel commitment in another new crop sale where November futures were locked in at the $9.45 level.  Taking off the basis of 75 cents under the November futures for delivery into Readfield, which is our current posted new crop bean basis, you would have a new crop bean contract at 9.45 – 75 = $8.70  The worst case is that you would have another set of new beans sold at $8.70 for Oct / Nov ’18 delivery into Readfield or Center Valley.  This compares to the cash price for new beans today at Readfield at $8.28.

What Are The Charts Telling Us?

Here are the support and resistance levels for cash and new crop grains.  These are all futures levels as traded at Chicago:

Cash Corn – July 18 Corn Futures – Support at $3.38, Resistance at $3.73, Place Targets at $3.68

New Corn – Dec 18 Corn Futures – Support at $3.60, Resistance at $3.94, Place Targets at $3.90

Cash Beans – July 18 Bean Futures – Support at $8.41, Resistance at $9.52, Place Targets at $9.42

New Beans – Nov 18 Bean Futures – Support at $8.64, Resistance at $9.72, Place Targets at $9.62

New Wheat – July 18 Wheat Futures – Support at $4.67, Resistance at $5.03, Place Targets at $4.98

To see where grain futures are currently trading, please click here.

As always, if I can help you with anything, please call me at the grain office in Readfield at 920-667-4955, ext 2 or send me an email at marcus.cordonnier@chsinc.com.

Marcus Cordonnier

 

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