Market Trends Report for October-November 2015

US and World

In the United States corn harvest is 27% complete and soybean harvest 42% complete as of October 5th. Good weather in the United States has led to some good harvest progress. It has been a year where market watchers have been keen to see USDA numbers as early wet weather issues in the US corn belt caused much uncertainty in crop size. Despite that, the USDA has been the harbinger of big crops this year consistently estimating good yields for both corn and soybeans. The October 9th USDA report was being seen as a litmus test to whether late-summer projections of big crops were real.

On October 9th, the USDA confirmed what they have been projecting all summer. The USDA pegged the US national average corn yield at 168 bushels per acre, up half a bushel an acre from last month. The harvested corn acreage was cut back by about 500,000 acres to 80.7 M ac. This harvested acreage figure was at the lower end of the trade expectations. The USDA boosted US soybean yield up to 47.2 bushels per acre up .1 bushels per acre from last month. They also lowered US soybean harvested acreage by 1.1 million acres to 82.4 M ac.

The USDA on October 9th pegged corn-ending stocks for 2015/16 at 1.561 billion bushels, down 31 million bushels from last month. The ending stocks to use ratio dropped slightly to 11.3%. Globally, corn-ending stocks were estimated at 187.83 MMT, which was down 1.9 MMT from last month. The USDA also cut its 2015/16 soybean ending stocks by 25 million bushels to 425 million bushels. The soybean ending stocks to use ratio dropped 11.5%. USDA is projecting their wheat production to be 2.052 billion bushels down 84 million bushels from last month.

On October 9th, corn and soybeans were lower but wheat nearby futures prices were higher than the last Market Trends report. The December corn 2015 futures was at $3.82 a bushel. The November 2015 soybean futures was at $8.85 a bushel. The December 2015 Chicago wheat futures closed at $5.09 a bushel. The Minneapolis December 2015 wheat futures closed at $5.29 a bushel with the September 2016 contract closing at $5.69 a bushel.

The nearby oil futures as of October 9th closed at $49.63/barrel up from the nearby futures of last month of $44.63 all/barrel. The average price for ethanol on October 9th in the US was $1.91 a US gallon vs. last month at $1.84 a US gallon.

The Canadian dollar noon rate on October 9th was .7724 US up from the .7532 US reported here last month. The Bank of Canada's lending rate remained at 0.50%.

Ontario

In Ontario soybean harvest is progressing well across the province. Good weather has provided a wide harvest window for soybeans, which started in late September. Some areas of the province have completed soybean harvest and started into corn. Yields have been strong in Eastern Ontario and more variable in other parts of the province where heavy spring rains have damaged the crop. The wide-open early soybean harvest has meant many wheat drills were following combines this fall. In some parts of the province like Southwestern Ontario producers who got 0 acres of wheat established in 2014 have all their wheat planted this fall.

Corn harvest has started across the province, but is in its initial stages. The warm open September and early October have provided good drying weather for this crop. Early yield indications are very high with high-test weight corn. It is likely that Ontario corn yield will challenge some of the high values of the last few years. A record yielding corn for Ontario is very possible in 2015.

The melding of basis levels has taken place over the last few weeks. Old crop is now the crop being taken to the elevator, while new crop is the crop you will plant next spring. Basis levels for corn have decreased versus last month. The soybean basis has seen slight erosion from last month reflecting to some extent harvest pressure as well as the value of the Canadian dollar. The Canadian dollar has improved a couple of cents against the US dollar and this will be reflected in basis values.

Old crop corn basis levels are .60 to $1.15 over the December 2015 corn futures on October 9th across the province. The new crop corn basis varied from .55 to $.85 over the December 2016 corn futures. The old crop basis levels for soybeans range from $1.95 cents to $2.15 over the November 2015 futures. New crop soybeans range from $1.52-$2.02 over the November 2016 futures level.The GFO cash wheat prices for delivery to a terminal on October 9th was $8.67 for SWW, $6.47 for HRW, $6.21 for SRW and $5.95 for Red Spring Wheat. On October 9th the US replacement price for corn was $5.23/bushel. You can access all of these Ontario grain prices by viewing the marketing section.

The Bottom Line

We've got huge crops coming out of the US. In many ways it is a testament to our production technology. In the early spring there was much conjecture from too much rain in the American Midwest. In many ways, this has always put some type of doubt in the market regarding crop size. For instance, as farmers, we know that damaging heavy rains can often reduce our crop health and ultimately our crop yield. However, if the October 9th USDA report did anything, it substantiated previous USDA claims that both the corn and soybean crop in the United States are some of the biggest of all time. Any doubt and conjecture that the damaging weather hit the crop hard in an overall sense is in the rear view mirror.

It is also so different from 2014. Last year we had big crops, but we were coming off a year where the crop was not as big. So in October and November of last year we had inverted futures markets and basis levels were very strong. This year as we head into the later fall we have carry in the futures market with weaker US basis levels. This is also partially reflected in the USDA projected ending stocks of 1.561 billion bushels of corn and 425 million acres of soybeans. The market simply does not want the grain like it did last year. Futures prices have tried to breach $4 corn and $9 soybeans, but they are meeting stiff resistance in and around those levels. Fresh news or some type of weather-related planting problem in South America is needed to boost prices. Farmer slamming the bin door shut at lower levels is also acting as a floor.

At the same time where we in Ontario are trying to bring in the soybean harvest our Brazilian colleagues in South America are planting. It has gotten dry in northern Brazil, but we all know it's preferred for planting weather. Needless to say, the South American planting window is moving into full bore. Any weather anomalies there, which affect that production, will have an immediate effect on our grain futures prices.

Geopolitics has also affected the grain complex with the problems that we have seen in Syria. The US dollar has been one beneficiary, but it has also been volatile having dropped to 94.883 on the US index on October 9th versus 96.385 on September 25th. Uncertainty in geopolitics is always bullish for the US dollar, but when it falls it is always good for grain futures prices. With its inverse relationship to our Canadian dollar it is a constant crop marketing challenge to get the balance right.

Commodity Specific Comments

Corn

The 168 bushels per acre corn yield projected by USDA in their October 9th report was especially healthy based on early spring weather. Keep in mind the skepticism that has been dashed with regard to that number. In fact, in nine of the last 15 years, USDA yields have actually increased into the January report. Don't be surprised as harvest totals continue to be counted across the American Midwest that this corn yield figure rises into the new year.

The corn demand reality is a bright light in a somewhat dark corn price world. Total demand for corn in the United States now is 13.755 billion bushels. That is huge and is unsustainable with any type of production hiccup at these current price levels. However, as we know that production hiccup has not come, but eventually it will. Corn farmers can at least put that in their back pocket.

The December 2015 March 2016 corn spread is neutral at -.1075 cents US. The December contract is currently trading in the lower 15% of the five-year distribution range. Seasonally, corn tends to trend up through early November.

Soybeans

The USDA boosted the soybean yield up to 47.2 bushels per acre, but this was tempered by a cut and harvested acreage of 1.1 million bushels. This was partially a result of those heavy spring rains in some areas. Compared to past years, the soybean yield is impressive and it is likely to grow into January.

The soybean complexes had a difficult time with the $9 level. When soybeans get too cheap the bin door slams shut seemingly around the $8.40-50 cents level, but $9 and over to $9.20 we see steep resistance. China continues to buy unabated. Demand remains strong, with US usage currently at 3.685 billion bushels.

The November 2015 January 2016 soybean futures spread is -.0475 cents US as of October 9th. The November soybean contract remains in the lower percentages of the five-year price distribution range. Seasonally the soybean futures market tends to tend up from here through early May.

Wheat

It is always difficult to be bullish on the wheat market with global supplies currently 670 million bushels higher than last year. Canada, European Union and Australia had their supplies maintained by USDA in the October 9th report. There is lots of wheat almost everywhere in the world and this will continue to weigh on prices.

In Ontario, wheat is being planted at a feverish pitch as of October 9th with wide-open weather. It is highly likely that the Ontario wheat acreage which last year was approximately 600,000 acres will breach 1 million this year. For many producers it is about getting back a rotation in southwestern Ontario.

The Bottom Line (Continued)

The optics of pricing grain in Ontario offer a unique window into the extra layer of management we require as Canadian farmers. The value of the Canadian dollar remains low at .7724 cents versus the US dollar but this represents a two-cent increase over the last two weeks as of October 9th. Simply put, corn valued at cash prices of $4.43 to $5.00 in Ontario and soybeans at $10.80-$11 looks much different than grain priced in US dollars to our American friends. So does foreign exchange give us a good price or is it just fooling us? Or is it simply bailing us out against the backdrop of a huge grain price slump?

The answer to that question is certainly varied across the Canadian grain world. For instance, if you contracted grain today for next year and our Canadian dollar moved to par, it would likely make you look like a genius even if you had an aggressive move in grain futures values. At the same time if the dollar moves back to par over the next 18 months with futures values gaining moderately, our cash price might not make any difference. On the contrary, if our Canadian dollar moved toward par with futures values falling significantly, it would be a cash pricing disaster. Thinking hard about this paradigm needs to be top drawer for all Ontario grain farmers.

Basis levels have actually been maintained fairly well even with harvest pressure. The Canadian dollar has helped, but with its recent move back up it is likely to erode Canadian cash values. Usually, at harvest time we export corn to the United States and eventually import it back in. However, it is never as smooth as that and producers will need to monitor that situation closely. Corn basis does not move on foreign exchange to the same extent as Ontario soybean and wheat basis.

So as we move ahead, harvest will continue both in the US and Ontario. Our Brazilian farmer colleagues will be planting soybeans at what many people think will become their biggest crop ever. Yes, the focus on grain surpluses is certainly there, but it never quite works out that way. Time can be a defining factor, because eventually supply gets interrupted in some form or another. That means to a large extent, marketing for Ontario farmers will continue to be a daily challenge. It also means there will be many marketing opportunities ahead. Risk management never grows old and capturing those profit opportunities remains job one.

Market Trends Report for September-October 2015

US and World

The August 12th USDA report was one of the biggest flashpoints of the year in grain markets. With the USDA seemingly shrugging off crop condition reports after heavy rains in the Eastern corn belt, grain futures succumbed to the bearish market environment. USDA numbers are the numbers that we trade and they will always be relevant, but surely they have caused much consternation in American farm country. As combines have begun to roll in both corn and soybean fields across the American Midwest, actual yields will surely be another telling sign about how right the USDA was in their August 12th report. Surely there was a lot of skepticism, but there always is. Measuring the factors that affect our prices still often proves a challenge.

On Friday, September 11th the USDA released their September report. In a nutshell, they reduced the projected US corn yield from their August report but increased soybean production. The USDA reduced corn yield down to 167.5 bushels per acre (13.585 bbu) but boosted the expected soybean yield to 47.1 bushels per acre (3.935 bbu) The old crop soybean ending stocks were pegged at 210 million bushels with the old crop corn ending stocks projected at 1.73 billion bushels. The USDA also set new crop ending stocks for corn at 1.59 billion bushels and for soybeans at 450 million bushels. Record yields for corn are expected in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin. Globally, the USDA increased wheat-ending stocks to 226.6 MMT, which reflected increase production in the EU and the Black Sea region. The global stocks to use ratio for wheat increased to 31.6%.

The computers at the CME initially stuttered on the new yield numbers, but soon corn was moving higher after soybeans initially dipped. At the end of the trading day corn was up $.12 a bushel, wheat was up 7 cents per bushel with soybeans rallying back to be unchanged at the end of the day. Even though crop ratings had never really changed significantly since June, the balance sheet for corn was seen tightening and prices responded accordingly. If the corn crop is realized it will be the second highest yield per acre and the third largest crop on record. The USDA left unchanged their forecast for Brazil and Argentinian soybean production at 97 MMT and 57 MMT respectively.

On September 11th, corn was higher but soybeans and wheat nearby futures prices were lower than the last report. The December corn 2015 futures was at $3.87 a bushel. The November 2015 soybean futures was at $8.74 a bushel. The December 2015 Chicago wheat futures closed at $4.85 a bushel. The Minneapolis December 2015 wheat futures closed at $5.11 a bushel with the September 2016 contract closing at $5.46 a bushel.

The nearby oil futures as of September 11th closed at $44.63/barrel up from the nearby futures of last month of $42.50/barrel. The average price for ethanol on September 11th in the US was $1.84 a US gallon vs. last month at $1.86 a US gallon.

The Canadian dollar noon rate on September 11th was .7532 US down from the .7646 US reported here last month. The Bank of Canada's lending rate remained to 0.50%.

Ontario

In Ontario crops are maturing with harvest set to ramp up very soon as of September 13th. In more northern areas, wheat harvest is wrapping up with corn and soybeans almost set for a long harvest run. In SW Ontario there have been some soybeans fields taken off, but the main harvest is still two weeks away.

At this time of year, “frost” is always part of the equation. However, in Ontario crops were planted early and a warmer summer than 2014 has advanced the crop further. There is no widespread concern that the crop might be shut down early as in other years when the crop was behind. Having said that, we're still not out of the woods with regard to frost. The Ontario crop is advancing nicely into the fall harvest.

Basis values have actually improved from the August report. The Canadian dollar in the 75-cent range has had much to do with that. However, it's also the time of year when old crop and new crop basis values move together with crops coming out of the field. The old crop and new crop prices for soybeans have moved together and corn also will make that switch into October. Producers need to be cognizant of that change at this time of year.

Old crop corn basis levels are .80 to $1.75 over the December 2015 corn futures on September 11th across the province. The new crop corn basis varied from .50 to $1.10 over the December 2015 corn futures. The old and new crop basis levels for soybeans have moved together for harvest from $2.00 cents to $2.28 over the November 2015 futures. The GFO cash wheat prices for delivery to a terminal on September 11th was $8.55 for SWW, $6.56 for HRW, $6.30 for SRW and $5.92 for Red Spring Wheat. On September 11th the US replacement price for corn was $5.77/bushel. You can access all of these Ontario grain prices by viewing the marketing section.

The Bottom Line

USDA reports always served as flashpoints for market action. However, in a grain futures marketing environment where computer algorithms trade all the grain and large investment funds chase the headlines volatility has become much more acute than it was even 10 years ago. Crop conditions in early September are about the same as they were in late June but the market has moved down considerably. The USDA played a large part in that on August 12th with a report the trade was not expecting. Their September report substantiated much of that in soybeans but offered some hope with regard to corn. Needless to say, there are still onerous supplies of grain around the world.

Having said that, supply is still in flux in the United States. Actual combine yields will soon be flooding into the headlines creating actual change in the supply and demand balance sheet. The October USDA report always serves as somewhat of a harbinger of the actual yield picture in the field and the January 2016 report closes the books on final 2015 yields. Both of these reports this year will have a major impact on price. Acreage and yield in the October report will serve as the next market flashpoint.

The USDA maintained Brazilian soybean production at 97 MMT and Argentina at 57 MMT for their upcoming year. Planting will begin in October and producers will need to keep abreast of planting progress and conditions. The Brazil number just keeps rising and is likely to top 100 MMT in the next few years, if not this year. The specter of this and planting in October will have an effect on the futures price of soybeans and it is likely to be bearish.

World wheat production remains at record levels. Globally, the USDA increased its ending stocks for wheat by 5.1 MMT or 226.6 MMT. Of course, prices are historically cheap at contract lows and it is likely that wheat will be competing with corn as a feed grain. Historically, this is common and moving ahead any increase in the value of corn will be checked by a corresponding cheap price for substituting wheat.

Commodity Specific Comments

Corn

Corn demand remains very robust and will not be easily tempered when the supply hiccup comes along. However, 13.585 billion bushels projected in the September 11th USDA report is not a hiccup. It is a huge crop. Demand stands at 13.755 billion bushels, which means that ending stocks will be decreasing once again. The September USDA report can't be construed as overly bullish but it opens up the possibilities for less corn supply in our future.

Key in the short term may be the next USDA report released on October 9th. In the September 12th report USDA reduced the yield 1.3 bushels per acre from their August estimate. Another reduction of that amount would no question send corn futures higher.

The December 2015 March 2016 corn futures spread is neutral at -.01125 on September 11th. Seasonally, corn futures tend to trend down through early October. The December contract is currently trading in the lower 17% of the five-year price distribution range

Soybeans

With the USDA raising US average yield to 47.1 bushels per acre, it does raise the spectre of another raise in October. This combined with the bigger Brazil plantings starting in October and it doesn't help the soybeans bulls. The US domestic stocks to use for soybean are 12.1% with global stocks to use at 27.4%, both robust solid figures.

The October 9th USDA report will also be key for soybean prices. Aside from a possible increase in yield, acreage may be adjusted as well.

The November 2015 January 2016 soybean futures spread is -.03 cents on September 11th. This is showing somewhat of a bullish tone. The soybean futures market tends to trend down through early October. The November soybean futures contract remains in the lower percentages of the five-year price distribution range.

Wheat

Wheat seems to be always in bearish territory and the September 11th USDA report substantiated that. US domestic stocks were increased from 25 million bushels and world wheat stocks saw a 5.09 MMT increase as a result of increased world production. The Chicago wheat contract remains near its low.

In Ontario, wheat drills are set for a marathon of planting wheat this fall. In SW Ontario, much wheat was not planted last year. With an early harvest almost upon us, producers will be hoping to get all of that acreage planted plus more. Despite the low prices, I'd expect greater than 1 million acres in Ontario this year.

The Bottom Line (cont.)

There is always some skepticism about USDA numbers and market reports. Clearly though, they are the numbers we trade. Unfortunately, sometimes like in 2015 it doesn't all quite add up specifically the relative stable crop conditions over time but the huge volatility in price, this time negatively. Traders love the volatility because they trade both sides of it but when the USDA makes a somewhat illogical call, farmers lose big time. There is no fix for Canadian farmers. It is simply the reality that we have to keep in mind when hedging our grain.

We may see more of it in the next few USDA reports, specifically cutting back on production. However, while we have seen grain futures prices drop precipitously over the last several months the Canadian dollar continues to show weakness effectively mitigating much of this grain futures weakness in our cash prices. With a possible rate increase from US Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen in the offing, this bodes well for the value the US dollar and negative for the Canadian dollar. Balancing the trade-off between Canadian dollar weakness and possible grain futures rallies will continue to be our marketing challenge.

With harvest coming on quickly in Ontario, we should expect some temporary basis weakness at the height of harvest. Unlike last year, when corn harvest was delayed, it is more unlikely this year. Expect Canadian corn to be exported at harvest time and possibly imported back later, but that will much depend under Ontario crop size. Needless to say, 160 bushels per acre for Ontario corn is likely, setting up a possible scenario where import pricing doesn't happen in 2016.

There still is China and its so-called weak economy. That is affecting both soybeans and corn. China may also be changing their domestic pricing formula for corn, but it's only a theory now. That said it will remain key to grain demand. The challenge for Ontario farmers is to continue to work your marketing plan. Standing orders reflecting both basis and futures are always good. Market where you are profitable and comfortable. Market lows are often made in October. There will be many more grain-marketing opportunities ahead.

Market Trends Report for August-September 2015

US and World

This cropping season has been one of extremes in the United States. The crop got off to a very good start, but in the month of June wet weather-inundated parts of the Eastern corn belt causing all kinds of crop damage. The market was slow to catch on to what was happening, but finally did in and around the July 4th weekend. At that time grain futures prices had increased substantially only to retreat when dry weather returned. The August 12th USDA report stood as a barometer of how many acres were lost and what type of lower yield expectations the USDA was expecting. Market watchers were surely fixated on August 12th to give us a lot of answers about future price direction.

The USDA did not disappoint. On August 12th, the USDA shocked the market counterbalancing all of the bullish hype by printing increased yield numbers for both corn and soybeans. This was a complete contradiction on the market sentiment going into the report. The USDA pegged US corn production of 13.69 billion bushels with an average yield of 168.8 bushels per acre. Soybean production was forecast to be 3.92 billion bushels with an average national US yield coming in at 46.9 bushels per acres. Many market analysts leading up to the report were predicting the corn yield to come in at 164 and soybeans at 45 to 46 bushels per acre.

The market imploded downward on the USDA estimates with soybeans approaching limit down at one point and corn dropping $.29 a bushel. It was one of the largest turnarounds between average trade estimates and USDA numbers ever. You might argue that even the market bears were surprised. Old crop ending stocks for corn for pegged at 1.8 billion bushels with new crop stocks coming in at 1.7 billion bushels. The old crop soybean ending stocks came in at 240 million bushels with new crop stocks coming in at 470 million bushels, a very huge number. USDA actually cut soybean-harvested acres by 900,000 acres.The USDA also reported total wheat production at 2.14 billion bushels.

On August 14th, corn, soybean and wheat nearby futures prices were lower than the last report. Corn futures had the September 2015 futures at $3.64 a bushel. The December 2015 corn futures were $3.75/bushel. The November 2015 soybean futures was at $9.16 a bushel. The September 2015 Chicago wheat futures closed at $5.06 a bushel. The Minneapolis September 2015 wheat futures closed at $5.18 a bushel with the September 2016 contract closing at $5.75 a bushel.

The nearby oil futures as of August 14th closed at $42.50/barrel down from the nearby futures of last month of $50.89/barrel. The average price for ethanol on August 14th in the US was $1.86 a US gallon vs. last month at $1.94 a US gallon.

The Canadian dollar noon rate on August 14th was .7646 US down slightly from the .7693 US reported here last month. The Bank of Canada's lending rate remained to 0.50%.

Ontario

Wheat harvest continues across Ontario as of August 14th. As the harvest moved out of the Southwest both quality and yield improved. Ground Zero for quality issues seem to come out of the deep South West this year. Basis anomalies with regard to quality issues were evident in some cases. Wheat harvest continues in Eastern Ontario and producers are hoping for good harvest weather to bring this crop in.

Corn and soybeans are variable across the province, but generally in good shape. For instance there are some pockets south of Woodstock and in other areas of central Ontario where a lack of moisture has hurt both corn and soybeans. Of course, other areas, which had too much early heavy rains in the spring, remain challenged. 10% of Essex county's intended soybean acreage was not planted. However, as of August 14th it is likely that Ontario is setting up for a corn yield of approximately 160 bushels per acre. Soybeans are much more difficult to quantify, producers will be hoping for August rain showers to gain yield.

Basis values have actually being maintained even with the drop in futures value as the Canadian dollar continues to flutter in the $.75-$.76 US range. There is a straight conversion for wheat and soybeans with regard to this foreign exchange, but corn basis may be different. Historically we are setting up for the classic harvest basis with a big Ontario crop, exporting the excess out at harvest time and then importing back in later. However, it never quite happens as smoothly as that. Export markets this year have been into Europe, where the Duricade gene is not wanted. Needless to say, as it is now we are setting up for a big corn crop this fall, which will challenge basis levels in southwestern Ontario. Eastern Ontario will continue to enjoy strong basis levels and will likely export grain into Québec.

Old crop corn basis levels are .70 to $1.25 over the September 2015 corn futures on August 14th across the province. The new crop corn basis varied from .45 to $1.00 over the December 2015 corn futures. The old crop basis levels for soybeans ranged from $2.33 cents to $2.50 over the November 2015 futures. New crop soybeans range from $1.95 to $2.28 over the November 2015 soybean futures. The GFO cash wheat prices for delivery to a terminal on August 14th was $8.72 for SWW, $6.95 for HRW, $6.56 for SRW and $6.20 for Red Spring Wheat. On August 14th the US replacement price for corn was $5.19/bushel. You can access all of these Ontario grain prices by viewing the marketing section.

The Bottom Line

The August 12th USDA report was brutal to the psyche of the grain market. In retrospect, the hype of the early heavy rains over 30 day period inundating the Eastern corn belt were not enough to mitigate yield below the previous March USDA estimate. Essentially, it seems like almost everybody was leaning on the wrong side of the boat. When the USDA came out with even higher numbers for yield for both corn and soybeans it was like a trap door opening. The sellers couldn't get enough.

Of course, it is not over yet. However, corn harvest will be starting in southern Illinois very soon. It has already started in places like Texas and Oklahoma. Simply put, the August 12th USDA report has infused a new bearishness into the grain market, which unless it is stemmed within the next few weeks will be very difficult to break out of. Further to that, the August 12th USDA numbers may not be the highest numbers printed by the USDA this year. We cannot assume anything going ahead with regard to production.

The August 12th USDA report was a psychological blow, but it was not the only blow the commodity market took in early August. On August 11th, commodity markets woke up to the fact that China was devaluing their currency unit the Yuan. This fact alone pummeled the Asian equity and currency markets as well as Europe and North America. Undervalued Chinese currency means it's much more difficult to buy agricultural commodities from North or South America. Corn and soybeans dropped on that news just before the USDA report. Shakiness in the Chinese economy suddenly got even more real.

Of course all of this economic instability caused by the problems in China have only made the US dollar that much stronger. So, with all the problems that the commodity sectors is having, being priced in US dollars makes it that much harder. It's like canoeing upstream with the current increasing daily. Essentially, this is happening in a commodity world that is flat and depressed almost everywhere in every type of commodity. The grain markets are completely caught up in that.

Commodity Specific Comments

Corn

Skepticism is an honest reaction to USDA corn numbers published out of the August 12th report. In the next few weeks with different crop tours going through the cornfields in the United States it will be telling their results. Whatever happens, it is clear that this corn crop is huge. However, corn demand is currently sitting at a record 13.775 billion bushels, a good thing with supply so robust.

Weather has always been a critical factor to the corn crop currently growing in the United States. A lack of heat, especially at night combined with the El Niño weather patterns have boosted corn growing conditions. At the end of the day it looks like hot and dry will always trump too wet in our cornfields. As of this point it surely looks like this has happened in the United States this year.

The December 2015 March 2016 corn futures spread is at -11.5 cents as of August 14th. This reflects somewhat of a neutral position for corn. The five-year seasonal index shows that corn futures tend to tread up through early September. Currently, the December contract is trading in the lower 10% of the five-year distribution price range, which reflects just how cheap corn really is.

Soybeans

Soybeans had a bit of a double whammy on August 12th as the report actually increased soybean yield but also decreased harvested soybean acres by 900,000 from the USDA's earlier estimate. However, this was far less than was expected so the world was awash in soybeans at least for that day.

Demand remains strong for soybeans, but of course the Chinese situation is very fluid and will affect soybean demand greatly. At the same time conditions are ripe in Brazil for an expansion of soybean acres especially with the Brazilian currency being devalued against a strong US dollar. Argentina on the other hand, has its own domestic issues, which may limit any increase in soybean acres come this fall.

The November 2015 January 2016 soybean futures spread is at -.05 cents/bushels as of August 14th. This represents a somewhat bullish market position. The soybean futures market tends to tread up seasonally into early September. The November soybean contract remains priced in the lower percentages of the five-year price distribution range.

Wheat

Wheat remains bearish with supplies ample around the world. There has been tremendous heat in Europe, which reduced crop production and of course terrible quality problems in the Eastern corn belt of the United States. It is very dry in the northwestern United States wheat belt, but even that is not made prices ripple.

In Ontario wheat harvest is close to done with some producers still finishing up. Producers will be soon be turning to planning their wheat acreage for 2016. It is likely that Southwestern Ontario will get a lot more wheat acres in the ground this fall especially with soybean harvest starting earlier. 1.5 million acres of wheat may be in the offing.

The Bottom Line (cont.)

It is almost the time where crop supply is set. In the case of 2015 crops it looks like some of the biggest ever. With the August 12th USDA report behind us, there has being a recalculation of crop price expectations. If the crop in the United States gets bigger through the fall into January, we all know what price will do. Into September combines will be rolling in southern Illinois and we should have better expectations.

In Ontario the futures price drop continues to be mitigated by a low Canadian dollar currently fluttering in the $.76 range. This has been accentuated to some extent by the strong performance of the US Dollar buoyed by a growing and healthy US economy. It also might get even stronger if US Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen announces an interest rate rise in the United States this fall. Whether that is already priced in is open to conjecture, but it is likely coming and the loonie will fall or remain weak under such a scenario.

The US corn export number may be overstated because of the strength of the US dollar. There is also some resistance to US corn because of the Duracade trait in some of the supply. If the US corn crop gets bigger going into harvest or into the winter, this may send corn-ending stocks up toward 2 billion bushels. It will take any urgency away from corn end-users to source supplies unless farmer selling completely dries up.

Of course there is also South America and we know that story. Farmers will be planning to get their soybeans in the ground in another eight weeks. For the Ontario producer looking at a big crop coming off starting in September, we've been here before. For crop yet unsold there surely will be future opportunities. The challenge is always to measure the market factors, which affect those choices. Standing orders for grain will always remain key even at times when market action seems quiet. You never know when the unexpected will come along in the grain markets. Risk management never grows old and as we careen into harvest daily market intelligence will remain key.