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April 2012 Archive for Standard Grain

RSS By: Joe Vaclavik

Joseph Vaclavik is the president at Standard Grain in Chicago. Standard Grain provides futures and options brokerage to farms, feedlots, elevators, processors, end-users and traders. Visit www.standardgrain.com for more information.


Ag Markets Mixed to Start the Week

Apr 30, 2012


·         Grains trading mixed to lower overnight; A strong start on Sunday night was met with selling around midnight
·         Friday’s trade spurred by largest one-off corn export sale in 20 years; Unknown buyers purchased 1.4mmt for new crop delivery while China purchased a smaller amount; Many believe the new crop purchase was a China buy
·         Flat price old crop corn as well as old vs. new spreads posting huge gains on Friday; Fundamental bulls have been touting tight old crop supplies, strong basis and inverted spreads for months now
·         Above average warmth to hit the Corn Belt over the next 7-10 days; Near to above-average rainfall to accompany warm weather in many areas; Stress added to HRW wheat areas due to heat later this week; No major changes in weather patterns seen beyond this week
·         Export Inspections this morning at 10am CST; Crop Progress this afternoon at 3pm CST; Export Sales Thursday at 7:30am CST; May Crop Production on May 10th at 7:30am CSt
·         Outside markets slightly negative with US$ higher, crude/equities/metals lower
This week will be a good test to find out whether or not corn can sustain a rally on increasing export demand. Weather patterns are still very bearish for new crop contracts in our opinion; we believe any rally will be accompanied by bull spreading action as a result. Spec funds had reduced their long positions in corn more than any other commodity ahead of the big export sale last week, which means that they certainly have some buying power if they decide to get involved again in a bigger way.
Soybeans have yet to see any "major" correction during the last several weeks despite overbought technical conditions. It’s tough to say how much of the South American crop issues are priced-in at this point, but we continue to recommend using option strategies to protect new crop soybean production; we have reason to believe that a significant amount of US corn acreage has switched to soybeans in the past several weeks. 
As always, call the office with questions or concerns.
Joe Vaclavik
(312) 462-4438

Grains Higher Overnight, Soybeans Test Highs

Apr 27, 2012


·         Grains sharply higher overnight; Another chart reversal pattern failed to see follow-thru, as nearby contracts trade within a few cents of the highs; July corn bouncing off $6 yesterday
·         Rains slated for some of the Corn Belt through Saturday; Producers in Iowa and other places that have seen minor delays may be halted for a couple of days
·         Argentina corn harvest 41.3% complete, soy harvest 56.1% complete according to Buenos Aires Grain Exchange data; Exchange cut Argentina soy output number to 43.0mmt from 44.0mmt
·         IGC cuts South American soybean production to 115.9mmt, down from prior 119.5mmt
·         USDA released details on this week’s finding of Mad Cow disease in a California dairy cow, details in article below
·         Senate Ag Committee approved a proposed five-year farm bill that seeks to make steep cuts to subsidies while expanding government crop insurance programs
·         Outside markets mixed with crude lower, equities higher and currencies mostly flat
The soy complex should be able to hold the grain markets together today, although we’re going to maintain a downside technical bias in corn until the July contract can trade convincingly over Monday’s highs at 6.21 ¾. Wheat futures continue to feel pressure from a big fund short and ample world supplies. Wheat is a weight on the corn market in many respects. December corn continues weakness on bull spreading yesterday; Favorable weather conditions have many analysts estimating a high ’12 yield estimate from the USDA on May 10th. Many analysts believe the number will north of 165bpa. 
Weather will be the most important factor from here on out. Any drought/heat threat will likely be accompanied by significant speculative buying in corn and soybeans. An event such as this will likely provide producers with their best opportunity for new sales.   
As always, call the office with questions or concerns.
Joe Vaclavik
(312) 462-4438

Grain Mixed, Outside Markets Under Pressure...

Apr 23, 2012


·         Grain markets were mixed overnight; Soybean volatility late Friday afternoon not extremely surprising given option expiration
·         Corn producers looking at a fairly open planting window early this week, although colder temps will return to northern areas; Some mild frost may occur but shouldn’t be seen as a major threat
·         China’s Sinograin may boost imports of US corn according to Reuters article; Trader’s believe that the group signed a contract to buy 500,000mt of US corn last week
·         EU and China manufacturing data disappointing overnight; US$ strong and equities sharply lower as a result
·         Rumors of more China soybean purchases on Friday; Traders believe 3-6 cargoes of US beans were purchased
·         Crop Progress this afternoon; Traders looking for corn planting near 29% complete vs. 17% last week; Avg for this date is 23%
·         Export Inspections today at 10am CST; Export Sales on Thursday at 7:30am CST
We’ll continue to reiterate the idea that corn prices will have a tough time rallying without a significant weather threat. Near ideal weather conditions trump the China demand story, in our opinion. There is certainly a possibility that the USDA could lower old crop stocks drastically on the May report, however we’re not banking on it just yet. Soybeans continue their recent strength on China demand and rumors of export issues in South America. 
Today could very quickly turn into a “risk-off” day in commodity markets, as outside markets are very negative. The combination of sharply lower equities along with a rising dollar and lower crude is sometimes enough to push grain prices.   
As always, call the office with questions or concerns.
Joe Vaclavik
(312) 462-4438

Follow-Thru Buying Overnight...

Apr 20, 2012


·         Corn and soybean contracts seeing some light follow-through buying early this morning after yesterday’s rally; May corn now trading 25 cents off Wednesday’s lows
·         Corn vs soy spreads correcting in favor of corn yesterday after several weeks of a relatively stronger soybean market; Many traders now believe that there will be some acreage switching from corn into beans given recent price move
·         China corn purchase rumor fueling yesterday’s rally, along with the more broad old-crop supply issue; Still no confirmation on a China purchase, however rumors are that the purchase was for new crop corn; Dow Jones reporting that the purchase was likely small
·         Rains expected for some areas of IL , IN and OH today and tomorrow; A significant planting window which includes warmer temps opens in the Corn Belt next week
·         Outside markets quiet today; US$ slightly lower with crude and equities higher, metals mixed
The current pop in grain prices is a gift to producers who generally have to rely on a weather issue this time of year for pricing opportunities. Best case scenario here may be a confirmation of Chinese corn purchases and follow-through action from fund buyers. Chinese demand would have to be very significant to sustain higher prices long-term assuming US production is ample.  The old-crop supply story is still very significant in our opinion. However, of even more significance is the fact that the USDA all but told us that they’ll be using early harvested corn to fill the make their balance sheets work.    Without a weather issue, a move back to recent highs in 5.70 in Dec corn would be a fantastic pricing opportunity. There is a still a long growing season ahead, however the corn crop is off to the best start in years. 
Producers should note the recent drop off in deferred corn spreads, which have increased carry from December to March/May/July of 2013. This is an opportunity to roll of a portion of December HTA’s to spring for grain that will be stored. 
As always, call the office with questions or concerns.
Joe Vaclavik
(312) 462-4438 

Grains Rebound Overnight

Apr 19, 2012


·         Grains sharply higher overnight after sharply lower closes yesterday; May corn trading below $6 during yesterday’s session, now trading near 6.15; Not any major news this morning regarding the grains
·         Many cash traders eyeing stronger basis levels on yesterday’s break; Old vs. new crop corn and soybean spreads up only slightly this morning despite flat price rally
·          Dec corn trading down to major support near 5.23-5.25 yesterday; Holding support there should be seen as a positive sign for the bulls
·         EU grain merchandisers reporting that Japan all but halted their interest in EU origin corn due to quality concerns, suggesting they may only resume purchases after harvest
·         Export Sales this morning at 7:30am CST, pre-report trade estimates:
o   Wheat               400k-650k mt
o   Corn                  650k-900k mt
o   Soybeans          750k-1.1 mmt
·         Outside markets mostly mixed to start the day; US$ higher, equities mixed, crude flat
·         Corn planting to move forward this weekend after some rains occur on Friday/Saturday; Major progress should be seen across the country early next week
Grain markets are slated to open the day session sharply higher today. We’ll look for a strong close to end the week before we’re totally convinced that a near-term low has been seen. For the corn market, there is still a major fundamental disparity between old crop and new crop contracts. Cash traders continue to tell us that corn stocks are tight while we know that the corn being planted is off to best start in years. Corn has rebounded versus soybeans in new crop contracts during the past couple of sessions. We believe that there will be a 1.0-1.5 million acre increase in soybeans from prospective to final due to the sharp increase in price. Some traders recall the 2009 scenario in which both corn and soybeans gained 1+ million acres from March intentions to final.   
As always, call the office with questions or concerns.
Joe Vaclavik
(312) 462-4438

Grain Markets Weak Overnight

Apr 18, 2012


·         Grains mixed overnight; Soybeans lower across the board while corn and wheat trade near unch; Corn vs soybean spreads have been under major pressure the last couple of months
·         Corn planting pegged at 17% as of last Sunday by the USDA; Some delays seen because of rain, but overall planting is moving very quickly; Illinois 41% planted, Iowa 5%, Indiana 24%, Ohio 10%, Minnesota 7%, Missouri 39%, ND 3%, SD 4%
·         Winter wheat rated 64% good-excellent vs. 61% last week; Spring wheat planting 37% complete vs. 21% last week, 5% last year and 9% avg
·         Brazil soybean production estimates continue to fall; Oil World looking for 65.0mmt vs. their last guess of 65.5mmt
·         Leaf and stripe rust being reported in the Kansas wheat crop by some farmers and crop scouts due to warm weather, we do not believe this to be a major issue at this point
·         Weather forecasters looking for a planting window to open this weekend into early next week; Most expect rapid planting progress to ensue
·         Corn market approaching technical support on charts; Both nearby and new crop contracts within arm’s reach of recent lows (charts on next page)
·         Outside markets mostly negative for the ag complex this morning; US$ higher with crude, metals and equities slightly lower
Despite a crop progress number yesterday that was a little bit below analyst expectations, there is no doubt that corn planting will make a massive step forward in the coming days. Market action is reflecting a crop that will go in quickly and without any major issue. Rains this week were welcome by the vast majority of producers. Subsoil moisture has improved immensely throughout much of the country. Without a bombshell ending stocks figure from the USDA on their May report, the corn market will have a tough time rallying lacking a weather threat.
Soybean prices traded to the lower end of their recent range overnight. Historically, $14 per bushel soybeans has been a difficult price for the market to sustain over an extended period of time. We fully expect beans to gain 1+ million acres from prospective planting to final due to price ratio movement.   
As always, call the office with questions or concerns.
Joe Vaclavik
(312) 462-4438

Weekend Rains Aid Dry Conditions

Apr 16, 2012


·         Grains sharply lower overnight on weekend rains that blanketed a good portion of corn/soy/wheat areas, aiding producers who have dealt with dry conditions for several weeks
·         New crop corn closing in on late March lows at 5.23 as the crop is off to its best start in several years; Despite very tight old crop stocks, a large crop this year paired with an early harvest has longs running for the door
·         Crop progress to be issued this afternoon; Many traders expect the report to show corn planting at 20-25% complete vs. 7% last year and 10% on average; Fastest pace on record for this date was 19% in 2010
·         Outside markets a negative this morning; Many discussing slowing China economy; US$ higher with crude and some outside commodities lower
·         Some forecasters looking for a frost this coming weekend in the northern/eastern portions of the Corn Belt; Lows in the low 30s expected, not likely damaging
·         NOPA Crush out today at 7:30am CST; Analysts looking for 141.5mil/bu crushed vs. 136.4/Feb and 134.4/March; Export Inspections this morning at 10am CST; Crop Progress this afternoon at 3pm CST
The corn and wheat markets may have a tough time catching a bid to start the week. Weekend rains aided dry conditions across the Corn Belt and aided the winter wheat crop. It looks as if corn planting with be completed without any major issue during the next several weeks. Despite admittedly tight (maybe far tighter than the USDA would like to admit) corn stocks, weather will be king from now until fall harvest. The government essentially told us on their April report that they’ll be using early harvested to new crop corn to alleviate balance sheet issues in late August and into September. Basis levels and old/new corn spreads may continue to perform well, however flat prices certainly have the potential to fall further. 
Nearby soybean continue to hold together well while the November contracts slips, trading 40+ cents removed from recent highs. The new crop soybean story is a little bit more difficult to understand. Most expect the USDA to increase soybean acreage at some point, most likely in the June 29th planted acreage report. Still, many uncertainties remain regarding both the South American crop and export demand. 
As always, call the office with questions or concerns.
Joe Vaclavik
(312) 462-4438

China GDP Data Negative for Commodities

Apr 13, 2012


·         Grains mixed overnight; Wide range trade in beans started the session higher and is now trading towards slightly lower on the day
·         Nearby soybean contracts posting new high closes yesterday; Tuesday’s reversal negated by chart action; Nov soybeans trading 25+ cents off recent highs as old vs. new spreads have been strong
·         China GDP announcement last night caused setback to many financial markets; China GDP rose 8.1% vs. estimates of 8.3%
·         Rains currently moving east through MN, IA and further south; Precip is welcomed by producers who have seen very little rainfall/snow during the last several weeks
·         Forecasts calling for warmer weather to hit the Midwest this weekend, however colder temps may return by middle of next week
·         Weekly export sales were strong yesterday, coming in well above trade expectations; Soybean exports below expectations, wheat within expecations
·         Grain traders should note the drastic rally in cattle and feeder cattle prices during the last 2 sessions; Both commodities posted new lows early in the day on Thursday and have rallied significantly since on short covering
·         Outside markets mostly negative for grains this morning; US$ up, equities/crude lower
New crop corn prices continue to be the biggest concern for producers across the country. Current futures price levels paired make significant profitability difficult to attain on operations with high cash rents and increasing input costs. Weather will be the driver of market action from here on out. The USDA has made it clear that they’re not ready to lower carryout significantly, as they believe that new crop corn will come in early in southern growing areas. Ideas that lower than expected yields are possible via a weather event is December corn’s best chance of seeing $6 again. We still advise that producers take steps to protect the gap between current price levels and crop insurance despite the unattractive board price.
As always, call the office with questions or concerns.
Joe Vaclavik
(312) 462-4438 

Up Overnight, Export Sales Today...

Apr 12, 2012


·         Grains mostly higher overnight; Old crop corn contracts caught a bid late in the day yesterday as they traded within the March 30th report day range; Beans unable to hold below 1420 in the May contract despite a chart reversal on Tuesday
·         Freezing temps seen across much of the country overnight; Most forecasters describe the threat to corn and wheat as being minimal; Market action certainly doesn’t reflect any major issues; Warm weather and rains to return this weekend; Colder temps again next week with possible freezes in far northern areas
·         Export Sales this morning at 7:30am CST, pre-report estimates:
o   Wheat             350k-650k mt
o   Corn                450k-850k mt
o   Soybeans        700k-1.1 mmt
·         Cash bids for corn mostly firm; Farmer selling decreasing as prices have dropped and planting begins
·         Outside markets mostly supportive for commodities this morning, US$ lower with crude and equities higher
Despite reports of freeze/frost issues in some areas, planting conditions are very good for the most part. Minor delays could be seen next week due to rains, which are welcome in most areas of the Corn Belt. According to our lead forecaster, “48% of projected corn production received less than half of its average rainfall in the last 30 days; Rains are needed.” Freeze/frost could again be seen in far northern areas again next week, but shouldn’t be a concern. 
A weather issue may be a producer’s best chance for a rally in new crop corn during the next several months. Without a major event that could point to lower yields, a rally of any significance will be difficult to attain. 
As always, call the office with questions or concerns.
Joe Vaclavik
(312) 462-4438

Up Overnight, Planting to Continue After Cold Snap...

Apr 11, 2012


·         Grains mostly higher overnight after yesterday’s sell-off; Soybeans rallying to new highs in yesterday’s session before selling off to close lower on the day; Nearby corn contracts trading into support via the trading range from March 30th report
·         USDA report mostly a non-event yesterday; Gov’t leaves corn balance sheet completely unchanged from March while making modest changes to the soybean and wheat S&Ds; World carryout numbers fell across the board
·         May wheat posting a downside key reversal yesterday; Despite being a good technical indicator historically, these patterns have not seen follow-thru in many situations during the last few years
·         Outside markets strong today after pressure yesterday; Equities seem to have found some footing while crude oil found support near the $100 mark; US$ lower
·         Old crop vs. Nov soybean spreads making new highs yesterday despite reversal in flat price; Corn spreads now trading well off recent highs
·         Freezes widespread in northern Corn Belt and Wheat areas today and tomorrow; Most areas near and north of I-80 from NE through OH at risk; Corn and wheat markets certainly not viewing this as a threat based on market action
·         Planting conditions continue to be a bearish factor for the corn market; Dry, warm weather to be seen again this weekend; Although some areas are “too” dry, the fact is that the crop will be planted early and without any major issue
·         Export Sales tomorrow morning
We look for old crop corn contracts to find support near current levels. Trade may quickly realize once again that despite yesterday’s WASDE numbers, there is certainly an issue regarding old crop corn stocks. May corn is now trading within the range traded on March 30th; a range may find some end-user and speculative buying. We’re not sure that the highs have been seen in soybeans. Reversal patterns have often not seen follow-thru as of late. Still, the market is long overdue for a technical correction.   
As always, call the office with questions or concerns.
Joe Vaclavik
(312) 462-4438 

Wide Ranges Overnight, USDA Tomorrow...

Apr 09, 2012


·         Grains mixed overnight in a wide-range trade; Beans trading more than 12 cents higher in most contracts early last night before selling off to trade near 7 cents lower at one point early this morning; Corn trading both sides in 8-9 cent ranges
·         Forecasters looking for cold temps to affect corn areas north of I-80 through Thursday; Most areas that have made significant planting progress will not be affected
·         Crop Progress to be issued by USDA this afternoon; Export Sales this morning at 10am CST; USDA April Crop Production issued tomorrow morning at 7:30am CST
·         Analysts looking for carryout levels in corn, soybeans and wheat to drop tomorrow; Most traders looking for a corn carryout near 720mil/bu vs. 801 in March
·         Gov’t released a bearish jobs numbers on Friday, sending equity and some outside commodity markets sharply lower to start the week; Non-farm payrolls rose by only 120k vs. 200k expected
·         Crop Progress expected to show corn planting moving at near record pace this afternoon; Fastest pace on this date was 5% in 2000
·         China buying small amounts of Ukraine corn and wheat over the weekend
Many producers are brushing off tomorrow’s USDA report as being just a footnote to the March 30th report. Tomorrow’s report has just as much potential as any to have an adverse impact on the market. We believe that hedging both old and new crop soybean production at current levels is important. Option strategies are more than viable given the recent rally. 
New Crop Soybean Hedge: Buy 1 Nov 1320 PUT / Sell 1 Nov 1500 CALL --- Pay 5 cents or better
Old Crop Soybean Hedge: Buy May 1400 PUT for 10 cents or better
As always, call the office with questions or concerns.
Joe Vaclavik
(312) 462-4438 
Futures and options trading involves risk of loss and is not suitable for everyone.

Slow News Day, Old Crop Corn Supported...

Apr 04, 2012


·         Grains mixed overnight; Old crop corn showing continued strength while soybeans take a breather from recent uptick; Wheat has been weakest leg of ag complex despite friendly numbers from the USDA last week
·         Informa increasing corn acreage estimate to 96.4mil (previous 95.5) and decreasing soybean acreage to 74.2mil (previous 75.1) at a conference in Chicago this week
·         Brazil analyst lowering soybean estimate to 65.2mmt vs. previous 67.1mmt; Corn estimate increased to 64.6mmt vs. previous 63.7mmt
·         Outside markets mostly soft today; US$ higher
·         Export Sales tomorrow at 7:30am CST; No trading on Friday in observance of Good Friday
·         FOMC outlook yesterday caused broad sell-off in many financial markets yesterday; Some traders may have noticed an “odd” settlement in corn futures yesterday as a result of the volatility
·         Old crop corn contracts have finished higher the past 3 days on friendly USDA numbers; Most technicians turning to a more friendly stance; Dec corn still trading below the range that traded from Jan 1 through the end of March
·         Slow news day in grains today
New crop corn prices are hardly “out of the woods” despite friendly numbers from the USDA last week. Although we believe that the odds of a rally to the 5.80-6.00 area are now increased due to friendly USDA data, there is absolutely no guarantee that producers will have the opportunity to price new crop production at higher levels anytime soon. The prospect of 95+ million acres planted, assuming that about 1 million are switched into beans, is a big weight on the market. PUT spread strategies are still a viable option for producers looking to protect the gap between current levels and their crop insurance coverage without the prospect of margin calls. Call the office for specifics.   
As always, call the office with questions or concerns.
Joe Vaclavik
(312) 462-4438



Beans Take a Breather, Old Corn Supported...

Apr 03, 2012


·         Grains mixed to lower overnight; Soybeans taking a breather while old crop corn holds together; Wheat has been the weakest leg of the ag complex early this week
·         USDA reported corn planting 3% complete vs. 2% last year and 2% avg; Winter wheat rated 58% good-excellent vs. 37% last year, 48% avg
·         Brazilian group Celeres lowering soybean estimate there to 67.9mmt vs. previous of 69.8mmt; Raised corn production estimate to 60.7mmt vs. previous of 60.4mmt
·         Informa will release their world production estimates tomorrow morning
·         Forecasters looking for a cold spell next week; Only northern areas should be concerned over frost/freeze prospects
·         Corn vs. Soybean ratio in new crop contracts near 2.49 :1 this morning; Many analysts believe that significant amount of acreage will be switch from corn into soybeans as a result of the recent price shift in favor of beans
·         Federal regulators approved applications from 20 companies to make ethanol for E15, a gasoline blend that contains 15% ethanol; Most fuel used in US currently contains about 10% ethanol
·         Export Sales on Thursday AM at 7:30am CST; Grain markets closed on Friday in observance of Good Friday
Soybean producers should check local basis today. A few bushels at $13 cash would be a great way to kick off your new crop cash sales if you haven’t done so already. Option strategies are also viable. New crop corn may struggle to gain traction as long as the planting conditions remain favorable. Even if corn loses acreage to soybeans, the market will be tough to support without a weather issue. Old vs. new corn spreads should remain strong until some evidence of demand destruction is seen. Corn is in full-on demand rationing mode, trying to convince users to hold off until Sept or Dec to make purchases. 
As always, call the office with questions or concerns.
Joe Vaclavik
(312) 462-4438

Follow-Thru Buying Overnight After Blockbuster Report...

Apr 02, 2012


·         Grains mixed overnight following Friday’s blockbuster report from the USDA; Gov’t posting corn acreage at 95.9 million while simultaneously dropping stocks to near pipeline levels; Market responded with a trade featuring limit-up old crop corn and strong old/new spreading
·         Soybean acreage pegged at 73.9 million on Friday, far below the average trade guess of 75.4; Beans were up 45-50 cents on Friday and saw follow-thru buying overnight; Most believe that beans need to buy back at least 1.0 – 1.5 million acres back from corn; New crop corn vs. soybean ratio now at 2.54 : 1
·         Old vs. New corn spreads making new highs overnight; N-Z trading an inverse near 106, K-Z trading inverse near 110
·         Wheat prices able to rally sharply on Friday after both stocks and acreage came in below pre-report guesses; No follow-thru seen overnight
·         Forecasters looking for colder temps to grip the Corn Belt beginning Saturday; Some looking for overnight lows in the 20s next week for many corn and HRW wheat areas
·         Soybeans look to target August/Sept highs near $14.00 in the Nov contract; Nearby May looks poised to test the $14.70 area
·         USDA should release first crop progress report this afternoon; Markets close on Friday for Good Friday
·         Outside markets mostly flat today; Most look for corn, soy and wheat to continue their path higher this week
            Using current USDA estimates, the market will use the next several days to digest the prospects of both a 14+ billion bushel corn crop in 2012 and near pipeline old crop supplies. Old vs. new corn spreads likely move higher, or hold steady until we know more about the ’12 crop. Soybeans now presented with the likelihood of a negative carryout IF significant acreage switching is not seen. 
As far as marketing is concerned, we believe that $13 cash is a great place to make a first new-crop cash sale for soybeans on a small amount of your production. The potential for a greater move higher is certainly there, however producers should stay away from speculation as much as possible. Corn producers may want to use the next few days to roll down any December PUT options at the 590 strike price and above. Given new info from the USDA, we believe downside may be limited for the next 1-2 months.   
As always, call the office with questions or concerns.
Joe Vaclavik
(312) 462-4438
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