Corn was the leader of the pack last month, up 12 cents for the spot contract in January vs. a ten cent decline for nearby soybeans and a 50 cent plunge in wheat.
Corn has pushed to its highest levels since mid-November, clawing close to the $4.45-4.50 level where farmer selling should surface.
Skepticism about strong Sep-Nov usage rate implied by the lower than anticipated December 1 stocks report is beginning to fade.
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Ethanol and feed margins remain strong and exports have held up even without China as evidenced by last week’s 76 million bushels in export sales.
The accompanying chart shows total corn sales as of the third week in January in million bushels on the right-hand axis and those sales and the amount shipped through the third week of January as a percent of the USDA’s January final export projection are plotted on the left-hand axis.
Last month the USDA pegged final U.S. corn 2013-14 exports at 1.450 billion bushels.
Total sales for this year now stand at 1.254 billion bushels, the highest for this point of the marketing season (Oct-Sep) since 2007 and the sixth highest since 1985.
Though cumulative sales as of the third week in January have been higher in the past, this year’s sales represent 86.4% of the January WASDE figure, the largest ever.
There is a question of whether all of these sales will be shipped for the amount actually having left our shores is 38.5% of the January WASDE figure, just slightly above the ten year average.
Keep in mind that most exporters have been concentrating on the heavy soybean loading program but with those sales starting to slow, corn shipments should pick up.
The brisk sales pace has some in the trade looking for an upward revision in final projected exports on the next WASDE report February 10.