Fundamentally Speaking

Early Season Corn Export Pace

Joel Karlin
By  Joel Karlin , DTN Contributing Analyst

Earlier this month, USDA pared its estimate of U.S. corn exports for the 2019/20 season by 150 million bushels (mb) to 1.90 billion bushels (bb) based on smaller supplies and the lack of U.S. competiveness.

The fact that the U.S. is not competitive in corn given prices that are usually at their lowest levels of the year during the fall is certainly sobering.

USDA also could have noted that our season to date overseas sales pace is completely abysmal.

Through the second week of October, U.S. corn sales for this marketing year starting September 1 are a mere 408 mb, which according to our records, is the lowest ever for this time of year going back to the 1990/91 season.

The amount shipped as of this date is 104 mb which, other than the 91.8 mb shipped as of the second week of October in the 2013/14 season, is also the lowest going back 30 years.

This graphic shows the amount of U.S. corn shipped and sold as of the second week of October as a percentage of the USDA's October WASDE export projection on the left hand axis.

The change in U.S.corn exports from that WASDE forecast to the end of the marketing year is shown on the right hand axis in million bushels.

Using that 1.90 bb figure, this works out to a mere 21.5% of total projected exports as of the second week of October. Other than the 2002/03 figure of 21.1%, this is the lowest since the 1990/91 season.

Only 5.5% has been shipped as of this date, and again is the lowest in the 30 years of data we studied.

This suggests additional reductions in projected U.S. corn exports will be seen in subsequent WASDE reports.

Consider last year at this time, sales and shipments as a percent of the October 2018 WASDE export projection was a far higher 33.5% and 11.6% respectively, yet final exports last year at 2.065 bb were a whopping 401 mb below that October 2018 WASDE estimate of 2.475 bb.

One could say that the trade wars were responsible for that, but looking at that 2002/03 season when the sales and shipped figures as a percent of the October 2002 WASDE projection were respectively 21.1% and 7.5%, and final exports were 412 mb below that figure.

A slow sales and shipment pace in the 1997-98 year resulted in final overseas sales of a massive 521 mb below where they were projected in October 1997.

(KM)

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