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US Corn Estimate at Risk in March WASDE Report

Todd Hultman
By  Todd Hultman , DTN Lead Analyst
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USDA will release its latest Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) reports on Wednesday, March 8. (USDA logo)

On Wednesday, March 8, at 11 a.m. CST, USDA will issue the next World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. There will still be much attention on South American production estimates, but here in the U.S., USDA may address corn's lack of export sales with an increase in the ending stocks estimate. Questions about the new-crop season will have to wait for the May report.


Since the February WASDE report, May corn prices have fallen over 30 cents, and one of the chronic disappointments of 2022-23 has been the lack of U.S. corn export sales, likely due to last summer's record crop in Brazil. That disappointment still haunts corn prices and is expected to show up again in Wednesday's report. Dow Jones' pre-report survey of 19 analysts expects USDA's estimate of U.S. corn ending stocks to increase, from 1.257 billion bushels (bb) to 1.299 bb, a higher amount that would still be the second-lowest surplus in nine years. Other than one unusually low estimate from an analyst that I suspect could be a typo, the other 18 analysts all expected an increase in corn's ending stocks, ranging from 1.285 bb to 1.360 bb.

With Brazil's second corn crop nearly half-planted, analysts expect USDA to stay with its 125.0 million metric ton (mmt) or 4.92 bb estimate of Brazilian production. In Argentina, where crops continue to suffer from La Nina-influenced drought, analysts expect USDA to lower the corn production estimate from 47.0 mmt to 43.2 mmt or 1.70 bb, the smallest in five years, but still not as low as local estimates.

USDA's estimate of world ending corn stocks is expected to be reduced from 295.3 mmt to 293.7 mmt or 11.56 bb. World ending corn stocks apart from China were estimated at 87.96 mmt or 3.46 bb in February, the second-lowest total in 10 years and remains an important metric to watch.


In the case of U.S. soybeans, the only bearish demand concern of the moment is the arrival of Brazil's 5.62 bb record harvest, new supplies that will have more of a bearish impact on new-crop soybean prices than on old-crop prices. In the case of old-crop soybean sales, the U.S. is already within 143 million bushels (mb) of USDA's 1.990 bb goal for 2022-23 with six months to go. With export sales nearly achieved, analysts in Dow Jones survey are largely agreed USDA's 225 mb of ending soybean stocks won't change much, if at all. Analysts in Dow Jones' survey on average expect a new estimate of 219 mb, within a narrow range of 200 mb to 250 mb.

The same analysts don't expect USDA's estimate of Brazil's soybean production to change from 153.0 mmt or 5.62 bb, a number that has been consistent most of the season. USDA's estimate of Argentine soybean production is expected to drop from 41.0 mmt to 36.3 mmt or 1.33 bb, still a little higher than local estimates.

USDA's snapshot estimate of world soybean supplies in late summer is expected to be reduced from 102.0 mmt to 100.1 mmt or 3.68 bb. In February, USDA estimated Brazil's most recent ending stocks at 77 mb as of Jan. 31 and Argentina's ending stocks at 192 mb, coming up March 31 -- both tight amounts that may result in Argentina buying soybeans from Brazil's new crop to crush.


U.S. wheat prices are trading near their lowest prices in a year or more and also trading near or below production costs at a time when U.S. ending wheat supplies are at their lowest level in 15 years, which is not only the bearish disappointment of the season, but also a mystery, close to the economic equivalent of defying gravity. Furthermore, the lack of commercial interest to punish funds for being short 360 million bushels (mb) of soft red winter (SRW) wheat they don't own is highly unusual, even in more bearish times.

That being said, Wednesday's report probably won't shed any new light on the situation, but there is always a chance USDA could find more world wheat production, closer to the higher estimates from the International Grains Council. Dow Jones' survey doesn't expect much change, looking for USDA's estimate of world ending wheat stocks to increase slightly, from 269.3 mmt to 269.9 mmt or 9.92 bb. If USDA did increase a production estimate, Russia would be the first suspect, as USDA's 92.0 mmt (338 bb) estimate is lower than other sources estimating 100.0 mmt or more. USDA's estimate of world ending wheat stocks outside of China is an important metric and was last seen at 124.75 mmt or 4.58 bb in February, the lowest in 14 years.

Here in the U.S., Dow Jones' survey expects USDA's estimate of ending wheat stocks will be moved higher, from 568 mb to 576 mb, still the lowest in 15 years. The more important finding for U.S. wheat stocks will happen Friday, March 31, when wheat's March 1 stocks are released. For those wanting to hear new-crop wheat estimates from USDA, that report will be out May 12.


Join us at 12:30 p.m. CST, Wednesday, March 8, as we discuss USDA's new estimates and what they mean for crop prices. We are also glad to take questions. For those busy at 12:30 p.m., there will be a link provided to replay the webinar at your convenience, but you need to register. Register here for Wednesday's March WASDE report webinar:…

WORLD PRODUCTION (million metric tons) 2022-23
Mar Avg High Low Feb 2021-22
Argentina 43.2 46.0 41.0 47.0 49.5
Brazil 125.0 130.6 123.0 125.0 116.0
Argentina 36.3 40.0 33.0 41.0 43.9
Brazil 153.0 154.7 151.0 153.0 129.5
U.S. ENDING STOCKS (Million Bushels) 2022-23
Mar Avg High Low Feb 2021-22
Corn 1,299 1,360 1,137 1,266 1,377
Soybeans 219 250 200 225 274
Wheat 576 612 557 568 698
WORLD ENDING STOCKS (million metric tons) 2022-23
Mar Avg High Low Feb 2021-22
Corn 293.7 297.0 291.0 295.3 306.3
Soybeans 100.1 102.0 96.5 102.0 98.8
Wheat 269.9 272.0 268.0 269.3 276.7

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