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December WASDE: A Quiet Ritual to End 2023

Todd Hultman
By  Todd Hultman , DTN Lead Analyst
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USDA will release its December World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) reports Friday. (USDA logo)

For corn, soybeans and wheat, Friday's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report offers no new U.S. production estimates. Given the tradition of the December report, there may not be any new demand estimates either. Just the same, DTN will be ready to report USDA's new estimates on Friday, Dec. 8, at 11 a.m. CST. Traders will be interested in any new corn or soybean crop estimates for South America and any surprises USDA might have waiting.

CORN

One year ago, corn was the only one of the big three U.S. crops to show a change in USDA's supply and demand estimates for December, the result of a 75-million-bushel (mb) cut in corn's export estimate. This year, it is possible all three crops will go unchanged, as the sales and shipments are up 33% from this time a year ago, thanks largely to Mexico.

Apparently, the 17 analysts in Dow Jones' pre-report survey are thinking similarly, expecting USDA to slightly increase its estimate of U.S. ending corn stocks in 2023-24 from 2.156 billion bushels (bb) to 2.157 bb, still the highest in five years. If there is an adjustment to corn's estimates, ethanol demand would be a candidate for a small increase, as ethanol production is up 5% from a year ago at this time.

With traders' attention now turned to South America, many will check to see if USDA's estimate for Brazil's corn production stays at 129.0 million metric tons (mmt), or 5.08 bb, and at 55.0 mmt (1.89 bb) for Argentina. The weather has been much better for Argentina so far, but the first corn crop in southern Brazil has consistently had too much rain, especially in Rio Grande do Sul. Dow Jones' survey expects USDA to reduce its estimate of world ending corn stocks from 315.0 mmt in 2023-24 to 313.0 mmt (12.32 bb), the highest in five years.

SOYBEANS

For soybeans, Dow Jones' survey expects USDA to slightly reduce its estimate U.S. ending soybean stocks in 2023-24 from 245 mb to 242 mb, the lowest in eight years. There is a small chance USDA could reduce the 1.755 bb export estimate, but it is more likely to hold off until more is known about Brazil's next soybean crop. Soybean crush demand is off to a good start in the U.S. in 2023-24, and that estimate probably won't be tampered with in Friday's report.

Dow Jones' survey expects USDA to reduce its snapshot estimate of world soybean stocks from 114.51 mmt to 112.90 mmt (4.15 bb). USDA's soybean crop estimate for Brazil will likely be the most-watched number in Friday's report after crops endured hot and dry conditions up until Thanksgiving. USDA's current estimate of 163.0 mmt is the highest among a recent smattering of estimates that range from roughly 150 mmt to 160 mmt. Many estimates are falling near last year's record of 158.0 mmt (5.81 bb). Argentina's soybean crop estimate of 48.0 mmt (1.76 bb) will likely stay unchanged as early crop conditions have been favorable.

WHEAT

In November, USDA estimated 684 mb of U.S. ending wheat stocks, the second-lowest total in 10 years, even with wheat exports estimated at 700 mb, the lowest in over 50 years. The good news for producers is that recent sales to China have given wheat a better chance of reaching USDA's estimate. The less good news is that international wheat prices remain cheap and are still competitive. Dow Jones' survey expects USDA to keep its estimate of U.S. ending wheat stocks unchanged at 684 mb for 2023-24.

For world ending wheat stocks, Dow Jones expects USDA to slightly increase its estimate from 258.69 mmt to 258.80 mmt, the lowest in eight years. The overall ending stocks estimate may not change much, but individual crop estimates will get attention. Just this week, Statistics Canada increased its wheat production estimate to 31.95 mmt (1.17 bb) and slightly above USDA's current estimate of 31.0 mmt. Australia's government agency, ABARES, estimated its wheat crop at 25.5 mmt (937 mb), a little more than USDA's estimate of 24.5 mmt. Another number that will get some attention is USDA's 50.0 mmt wheat export estimate for Russia, an amount some think is too high, given the current level of shipments reported.

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Join us for DTN's webinar at 12:30 p.m. CST Friday, Dec. 8, as we go through the numbers and discuss USDA's latest estimates. Questions are welcome, and registrants will receive a replay link for viewing at their convenience. Register here for Friday's December WASDE report webinar: https://www.dtn.com/….

U.S. ENDING STOCKS (Million Bushels) 2023-24
Dec Avg High Low Nov
Corn 2,157 2,293 2,106 2,156
Soybeans 242 259 215 245
Wheat 684 706 670 684
WORLD ENDING STOCKS (million metric tons) 2022-23
Dec Avg High Low Nov
Corn 299.2 299.6 299.0 299.2
Soybeans 100.3 100.4 100.0 100.3
Wheat 269.6 270.0 269.3 269.6
WORLD ENDING STOCKS (million metric tons) 2023-24
Dec Avg High Low Nov
Corn 313.0 315.0 310.0 315.0
Soybeans 112.9 116.8 110.5 114.5
Wheat 258.8 260.2 257.9 258.7

Todd Hultman can be reached at todd.hultman@dtn.com

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Todd Hultman