ARGENTINA DROUGHT EASING, BUT CROP DAMAGE SEEN... Meteorologist Gail Martell of MartellCropProjections.com says severe drought in Argentina eased over the weekend with rains in excess of 1 inch seen across much of the grain belt. However, extreme heat was seen the two weeks leading up to the weekend rain event, resulting in some crop damage.
Martell says heavy rains are expected in Brazil's southern grain region this week to help alleviate dryness that has resulted from the recent dry spell. For this week, she says the forecast is wetter in southern Brazil than Argentina.
"Argentina weather stress has been far worse than southern Brazil due to hotter temperatures in the recent two weeks. In addition, Argentina's crops were planted on a delayed timetable and thus have a shallow a root system. This may lead to unusually severe moisture stress," she adds. Click here for related maps.
ARGENTINA GRAIN EXCHANGE EXPECTS 55 MMT BEAN CROP.... The Rosario Grain Exchange expects the Argentine soybean crop to come in at 55 MMT in 2013-14, which would be up sharply from last year's 48.3 MMT crop. USDA most recently pegged the Argentine bean crop at 54.5 MMT. The exchange says it expects a 6% increase in soybean planted acreage to 20.7 million hectares this season, with 80% of the crop now planted.
The corn crop is expected to come in around 22 MMT, according to the exchange, which would be a 4-MMT decline from the 2012-13 marketing year. The corn crop is in good shape thus far, the exchange said, though it did note that hot temps and limited rain are a threat.
The exchange also upped its wheat production forecast for the country based on better-than-expected harvest yield reports, with harvest estimated at 70% complete. The exchange raised its estimate by 400,000 MT to 9.5 MMT.
ECONOMISTS: H&P REPORT REFLECTS PEDV IMPACTS... University of Missouri Ag Economist Ron Plain say Friday's USDA Quarterly Hogs & Pigs Report signals the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) is having an impact on the hog industry. The report reflected the smallest year-over-year increase in pigs per litter (at 101% of year-ago) since the summer of 2003. Overall, Plain notes the market hog inventory came in just below expectations, while farrowing intentions were a bit higher than expected.
Plain says the December breeding herd is 59,000 head smaller than on Sept. 1. Combined with September data, Plain says overall the data implies 135,400 fewer gilts were added to the breeding herd this fall than the year prior.
"With the number of litters farrowed expected to be up 1.3% this winter and pigs per litter down perhaps 1% due to PEDV, the winter pig crop is likely to be 0.1% larger than a year earlier. We are forecasting third quarter 2014 daily slaughter to be unchanged from a year ago. Look for carcass prices of barrows and gilts to average in the low $90s/cwt," says the economist.
Additionally, Plain notes testing data from the National Animal Health Laboratory Network says as of Dec. 15, PEDV has been confirmed on 1,764 swine premises in 20 states. "This is an increase of 119 locations from the week before. This was the third largest weekly increase after the two previous weeks. Iowa, North Carolina and Oklahoma account for 65.5% of the cases. There is an unknown amount of double counting in this data," notes the economist.
BIODIESEL PRODUCTION HITS RECORD HIGH... Biodiesel production hit its highest level since the start of data keeping (in early 2011) for October, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Production rose 7 million gallons from September to 132 million gallons in October. The report noted that soybean oil remains the largest biodiesel feedstock, with use rising from 502 million lbs. in September to 551 million pounds in October. This was also the highest figure since December 2011 -- just ahead of the suspension of the U.S. biodiesel tax credit. Soybean oil used for biodiesel stands at 4.342 billion lbs. through the first 10 months of 2013, which is well above 3.524 billion lbs. through this period last year.