The spring of 2018 will not go down in the record books as one of the earlier planted years, but understandably, markets have not become overly anxious. As of the 22nd, NASS estimates that we have 5% of the corn in the soil, which was 3% less than anticipated and 9% behind the 5-year average. The only state that is ahead of pace is Texas with 65% planted versus an average of 59%. Of course it is well known that we can plant the entire crop within a very limited window of time, (14 suitable days according to the University of Illinois) and in light of the current weather forecast, it would appear that a large portion of the crop will get planted in the next week to 10-days. Bean planting progress was limited to southern states and came in right on the historical average of 2%. Not surprising, progress throughout the north was limited in all crops. Spring wheat just 3% planted vs. 25% normal, 2% of barley compared with 8%, oats at 31% vs. 55% and sugarbeets 12% compared with an average 37%. Once again though, not a surprise considering there was snow falling a week ago in much of the north.
It seems this is the first week I can remember in months when there were not downward revisions being published for the Argentine crops. Soy harvest in that nation is now estimated to be 39.6% complete, and Dr. Cordonnier left his estimated unchanged at 39 MMT, and the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange is at 38 MMT, which was also unchanged. Do note that this morning the USDA reported sales of 130,000 MT of US beans to Argentina. 60k of this is for the current crop year and 70k for the 18/19 marketing year. Corn harvest was estimated to be 29.5% complete, and here as well, both Dr. Cordonnier and the Exchange left the estimates unchanged at 32 MMT. As I noted yesterday, dryness in Southern Brazil is raising a little concern about the safrinha corn crop but so far not enough to make any adjustments. Dr. Cordonnier left his estimate unchanged at 87 MMT (5 MMT less than USDA) and had the bean number at 115 MMT, which is the same as Uncle Sam.
China released import numbers for March which again revealed a troubling, though not surprising trend. For the month that nation imported 5.662 MMT of soybeans which was 10.5% less than a year ago. Considering that the first quarter imports were up just slightly, quantity was not the troubling part. Of greater concern is the fact that of the March total, Brazil supplied 2.33 MMT, an increase of 33% and the US supplied 3.10 MMT, down 27% from a year ago. This, of course, is an ongoing shift and were it not for the overall growth in Chinese demand, would have already negatively impacted our price. In corn, as a percentage Chinese demand has picked up very nicely as for the month they imported 62,830 MT, which is actually 1094% above the same month last year. For the first quarter, total imports reached 557,346 MT, which is up 81.6%. It would appear though that increased corn imports have translated into reduced DDG demand. For March, imports of this product were down 85.6% and for the first quarter are 87% lower.
Currently, we have the grains struggling with beans showing a bit of a bounce, but overall, I continue to look for soft action into next month.