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Market Attention Turns South in USDA's February 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, Feb. 8. (USDA logo)

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 11 a.m. CST, USDA will issue the next World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. The usual ground will be covered, but most of the market's attention will likely turn to South America where Brazil's record soybean crop is being harvested and Argentina is struggling with drought.


In the January report, USDA surprised markets with a lower-than-expected corn production estimate of 13.73 billion bushels (bb) and Dec. 1 corn stocks of 10.809 bb, a total that was 378 million bushels (mb) below analysts' expectations. In the next report, on Feb. 8, we're not likely to see bullish surprises of that magnitude, unless they come from South America.

Dow Jones' survey of 16 analysts expects USDA to increase its estimate of U.S. ending corn stocks in 2022-23 from 1.242 bb to 1.264 bb. If analysts are correct, it will still be the second-lowest corn total in nine years. Dow Jones doesn't specify a reason for the higher estimate, but a good guess would be that analysts expect another reduction in the corn export estimate, currently sitting at 1.925 bb, which is down 22% from a year ago. As of Jan. 26, U.S. corn export commitments are down 43% from a year ago, hurt by increased competition from Brazil.

For world ending corn stocks, Dow Jones' survey expects a reduction in 2022-23, from 296.42 million metric tons (mmt) in January to 295.0 mmt (11.61 bb). Argentina would be the main suspect behind any reduction in world corn stocks, afflicted by drought through much of the season and only recently getting help from better rain coverage. Dow Jones' survey expects USDA to reduce its corn production estimate for Argentina from 52.0 mmt to 48.1 mmt, or 1.89 bb. The production estimate for Brazil is expected to increase slightly, from 125.0 mmt to 125.3 mmt (4.93 bb). Planting is just getting started for Brazil's larger, safrinha corn crop. World corn stocks apart from China were estimated at 89.10 mmt (3.51 bb) in January, the second-lowest total in 10 years and is an important metric to watch.


Like corn, USDA's January report also had a bullish impact on soybean prices after USDA lowered its 2022 production estimate to 4.276 bb and found Dec. 1 soybean stocks 123 mb lower than analysts had expected. Dow Jones' survey expects USDA to keep its January estimate of U.S. ending soybean stocks untouched at 210 mb, and there seems to be little challenge to the notion that soybean supplies are headed to their lowest U.S. finish in seven years.

Wednesday's report will have attention on South America's estimates with Brazil's record soybean production estimate expected to be tweaked slightly higher, to 153.1 mmt (5.63 bb). In Argentina, where conditions have been much drier, analysts expect USDA to reduce the soybean production estimate from 45.5 mmt to 41.5 mmt (1.52 bb). If true, it would be the lowest in five years.

Dow Jones' survey expects USDA to lower its estimate of world soybean stocks from 103.52 mmt to 101.60 mmt (3.73 bb). USDA's January estimates of actual ending soybean stocks in Brazil in the season that just ended Jan. 31 were tight at 84 mb. For Argentina, soybean stocks are expected to end at 184 mb on March 31, another tight scenario.


After USDA reported 1.280 bb of Dec. 1 wheat stocks in the Jan. 12 report, there is little doubt U.S. wheat supplies are on track for their lowest ending in 15 years. Wednesday's new estimates are not apt to show much change, but analysts in Dow Jones' survey expect USDA to increase its estimate of U.S. ending wheat stocks from 567 mb to 579 mb, a total that is also the lowest in 15 years.

There seems to be disagreement among 2022-23 world wheat production estimates with USDA expecting 781.31 mmt (28.71 bb) versus a higher view of 796 mmt (29.25 bb) from the International Grains Council (IGC). USDA may have some tweaks in Wednesday's report, but it will be interesting to see if USDA makes any significant adjustments to narrow the gap with the IGC's numbers. Wednesday's export estimates for Russia and Ukraine will also be noticed. Russia has been an active seller of wheat lately, and Russian inspectors are being accused of deliberately slowing down the inspection process, limiting the amount of grain ships leaving Ukraine. USDA's estimate of world ending wheat stocks apart from China was last seen at 124.31 mmt (4.57 bb) in January, the lowest total in 14 years.

Traditionally speaking, February WASDE reports are usually ho-hum affairs, but this year's drought in Argentina and prospects for export competition from Brazil are adding interest to Wednesday's numbers.


Join us at 12:30 p.m. CST Wednesday, Feb. 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 February WASDE report webinar:….

WORLD PRODUCTION (million metric tons) 2022-23
Feb Avg High Low Jan 2021-22
Argentina 48.1 51.5 44.0 52.0 49.5
Brazil 125.3 129.9 124.0 125.0 116.0
Argentina 41.5 45.0 38.0 45.5 43.9
Brazil 153.1 154.2 152.0 153.0 129.5
U.S. ENDING STOCKS (Million Bushels) 2022-23
Feb Avg High Low Jan 2021-22
Corn 1,264 1,335 1,075 1,242 1,377
Soybeans 210 225 176 210 274
Wheat 579 612 557 567 698
WORLD ENDING STOCKS (million metric tons) 2022-23
Feb Avg High Low Jan 2021-22
Corn 295.0 298.0 291.0 296.4 306.0
Soybeans 101.6 103.9 97.4 103.5 98.2
Wheat 270.8 289.5 267.4 268.4 276.8

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