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US corn, soybean stocks at eight-year low

Written September 26, 2012

Analysts predict ahead of USDA report

U.S. corn stocks are expected to be at 1.113 billion bushels when the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases its quarterly stocks report on September 28, the lowest level in eight years in spite of an early harvest that brought more than 1 billion bushels of grain into the supply pipeline, according to surveyed industry analysts. The report will also mark the end of the 2011–2012 marketing season.

The estimate is down 15 million bushels from the 2010–2011 season and down from the USDA's September 12 estimate of 1.181 billion bushels. U.S. corn export shipments in the 2011–2012 season totaled 37.9 million metric tons (1.49 billion bushels), according to USDA, below the full-season forecast of 39.12 million metric tons (1.54 billion bushels). The USDA said 1.667 million metric tons of 2011–2012 sales were carried over to the next marketing year.

Price increases due to the drought began rationing demand and the early harvested crop added bushels to stocks as of the September 1 quarter, which could lead to extreme price volatility if the USDA's estimate varies significantly from trade expectations, said experts. "The September grain stocks report has turned into quite a crapshoot," said Bryce Knorr, senior editor for Farm Futures Magazine. "While most of the surprises focused on corn the last two years, there's also uncertainty for soybeans and wheat." According to the analysts polled, U.S. wheat stocks on September 1 were at 2.278 billion bushels, up from 2.147 billion in 2011, and soybean stocks were at 131 million, down from 215 million in 2011.


U.S. September 1 soybean stocks are predicted to drop to 131 million bushels, according to the analysts, the lowest level since 112 million in 2003–2004. The figure closely matches the 130 million bushels that the USDA forecast earlier in September for 2011–2012 soy ending stocks. Some predicted a higher number, however, saying that carryover stocks from the previous year might be higher than they looked on paper. "I'm thinking that there is more likely to be a bearish surprise than a bullish surprise in the report," said Anne Frick, an oilseeds analyst with Jeffries Bache.

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