South America Influences USDA Numbers

Strong corn exports reported, soy sales may pick up later this year.

Published on: Feb 10, 2012

Production losses in Argentina contributed to a big boost in U.S. corn exports in USDA's latest World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates report that was released Thursday. U.S. corn prices were unchanged from last month's estimate at $6.20 a bushel.

World Ag Outlook Board Chair Gerald Bange says a heat-related production loss of at least 15% in Argentina did help U.S. corn exports.

"We are now looking at a crop coming out of Argentina of 22 million tons versus our estimate of 26 million tons last month," Bange said. "Now the implication for that is it gives us a little bit more room on the export front. As a result of that we have increased the U.S. export forecast up 1.7 billion bushels, an increase of 50 million bushels."

U.S. corn ending stocks were off 45 million bushels and global stocks were the lowest since 2006-2007.

The soybean balance sheet was unchanged from last month, with prices also holding steady.

"What we're looking at here is a price of $11.70 at the midpoint of our forecast," Bange said. "Right now it turns out that 65% of the crop has been marketed at $11.70 so we see that price holding at about that level for the remainder of the year."

But, U.S. soybean exports remain off 226 million bushels, on strong bean exports by Brazil and Argentina last year.

"Argentina produced 49 million tons of beans and Brazil produced 75.5 million tons of beans," Bange said. "As a result they were extremely competitive and that did in fact cut into our exports. We probably for 2011-2012 will have our exports turn out to be about 1.275 billion bushels, down about 15% from last year."

Argentina and Brazil are not expected to produce or export as many soybeans this marketing year, while U.S. sales may pick up in the second half of the year.

Separately, U.S. wheat exports are forecast up 25 million bushels on stronger than expected sales, while wheat prices inched up a dime to $7.30 a bushel.