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From the Editor

RSS By: Brian Grete, Pro Farmer

Pro Farmer Editor Brian Grete takes time to talk with Pro Farmer Members about some of the key issues in each week's Pro Farmer newsletter.

Corn spreads go crazy!

Apr 27, 2012

Chip Flory

From The Editor

April 27, 2012

Hello Pro Farmer Members!

Wow... May corn futures go into delivery next week and the May-December spread went absolutely nuts today. May corn futures had a last tick on the day session that was up 30 1/2 cents; December corn futures were up 2 3/4 cents on the last tick of the day. That's a 27 3/4 cent move in the old-new corn spread in one day. Moves like this don't happen very often...

But the wacky spread action doesn't end there. May corn 11 1/2 cents on July corn futures today and the old-old corn spread ended at a record 28 cents. That's the kind of price action that can only happen in a tight-supply, strong-demand market. Which is exactly what the corn market is dealing with right now.

China bought more old-crop corn this morning... 120,000 MT for delivery in the current marketing year. That pushes China's total old-crop corn bookings well past USDA's current estimate of 4 MMT. That certainly suggests USDA will have to increase the corn export estimate in the May 10 Supply & Demand Report. That should drag 2011-12 corn carryover below the Fe b.-Mar.-April carryover estimate of 801 million bushels.

BUT... USDA could raise the export forecast and offset a bigger export number with a cut to another usage category. Specifically, USDA could cut feed & residual use. Specifically, USDA could cut the residual component of the feed & residual category.

I've argued several times USDA is already working with a negative residual use estimate for corn. Maybe as much as a negative 200 million to 250 million bu. negative residual. That means feed use is actually 200 million to 250 million bu. bigger than the 4.6 billion bu. estimated in the April S&D Report. It's not much of a stress to imagine USDA's May 10 S&D Report including an even bigger negative residual use component, which would allow 2011-12 corn carryover to hold steady at 801 million bushels.

In reality, supplies of 2011-crop corn are tighter than that. But, because of the negative residual and expectations that more than 900 million bu. of 2012-crop corn could find their way into the Sept. 1, 2012, corn stocks estimate, don't look for USDA's corn carryover to dip much more than it already has.

We're not exactly sure how much more the old-old or old-new corn spreads will continue to widen. But combined with very tight exportable corn supplies at the Gulf (see News page 3 of this week's newsletter), stronger-than-expected demand for old-crop corn and talk that Argentina's corn crop estimate is headed someplace south of 20 MMT, odds are the bull spreads will continue to widen in next week's trade.

Another topic we spent plenty of space on in this week's newsletter was the BSE find. We're looking for confirmation of this, but we're hearing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has asked USDA to provide a timeline of how the BSE alert was released to the industry. Because live cattle futures were limit-down on rumors of the BSE case ahead of confirmation from USDA, the CFTC just wants a timeline of who knew what and when they knew it. That seems fair... but keep in mind, there is no such thing as "insider trading" in commodities.

In the commodity world, it's generally a "first to know wins; last to know loses" world. But, if somebody inside of USDA mishandled market-sensitive information, they should at least get a "wrist-slapping" for their mistake. We're sure this will be a topic of market discussion in the week ahead.

That's it for now...

... have a great weekend.
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