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Market Trends Report – May & June 2024

US and the World

     It is that time of year again, planters are rolling across the great North American corn belt.  As of May, the 5th 36% of American corn had been planted which is 6 percentage points behind last year and three points behind the five-year average. On the soybean side of the ledger 25% of American soybeans were planted as of May the 6th. This is 5% behind last year’s pace but it’s four percentage points ahead of the five-year average.  Of course, nobody knows the future where this crop might go.  On May the 10th the USDA weighed in with their latest WASDE report. 

     According to USDA, there are big crops ahead for 2024. Corn production was set at 14.86 billion bushels with 181 bushels per acre yield to come from 90 million planted acres. Total domestic usage is estimated to come in at 12.605 billion bushels with ending stocks projected to be 2.102 billion bushels. On the old crop side of the ledger, corn ending stocks were estimated at 2.022 billion bushels which is 100 million bushels lower than April.  The USDA lowered Brazilian corn production by 2 MMTs to 122 MMTs. Argentinian corn production was lowered 2 MMTs to 53 MMTs.

      For soybeans, the USDA is estimating total US production at 4.45 billion bushels which is slightly above the pre report estimate. This will come from the 86.5 million planted acres with an average U.S. National yield of 52 bushels per acre. This new crop production will lead to new crop ending stocks growing significantly to 445 million bushels.  Old crop ending stocks we’re unchanged at 340 million bushels. USDA lowered their Brazilian soybean crop estimate to 154 MMTs, with Argentina set at 50 MMTs.  Looking far into the future the USDA is estimating next year’s Brazilian soybean crop to climb to 169 MMTs, Argentina to 51 MMTs.  USDA estimated HRW wheat production up 104 million bushels from a year ago.  It estimated SRW wheat production down 108 million bushels over last year.

        On May 10th, corn, soybeans and wheat futures were higher than the last Market Trends report.   July 2024 corn futures were at $4.69 a bushel.  The July 2024 soybean futures stood at $12.19.  The July 2024 Chicago wheat futures closed at $6.63 a bushel. The Minneapolis July 2024 wheat futures closed at $7.20 a bushel with the Sept 2024 contract closing at $7.26 a bushel.

     The nearby oil futures as of May 10th closed at $78.26/barrel down vs the nearby futures recorded in the last Market Trends report of $83.14/barrel. The average price for US ethanol in the US was $2.15, above the $2.07 a US gallon recorded in the last Market Trends Report.

     The Canadian dollar noon rate on May 10th, 2024, was .7318 US, higher vs the .7274 US reported here in the last Market Trends report. The Bank of Canadas lending rate remained at 5%.


      Well, life has been interesting trying to plant corn in Ontario. Constant light rain throughout the province has hindered the widespread planting we are used to at this time of year. There was even a GPS problem on May the 10th as a solar storm affected agriculture in a very strange way. Farm guidance systems were affected however, it’s the constant wet conditions which have hindered planting progress. Farmers are surely hoping in the last half of May and early June good planting weather comes to fruition.

     Ontario basis levels for grains have hardly changed over the last month reflecting big local stocks available and a Canadian dollar which has been fluid in the 72 and 73 cent US level. Cash prices are higher mainly because futures values have changed. There has also been a big change in the Ontario SRW wheat price.  Producers can now contract their wheat for over $8 a bushel which is approximately $1.40 higher than it was a couple months ago. 

     Ontario wheat is ahead of where normal is with some Essex County wheat looking to head out in May. This will likely lead to an earlier harvest than normal but of course it depends on the weather. It is a bonus to see this sharp rise in the wheat price since March and it should not be lost on producers who watched wheat prices sag earlier.  As we continue to plant corn and soybeans having standing resting marketing orders ready for your wheat crop would be optimal.

       Old crop corn basis levels are $0.40 to $0.72 over the July 2024 corn futures on May 10th across the province.  The new crop corn basis varied from $.85 to $1.12 over the December 2024 corn futures.  The old crop basis levels for soybeans range from $2.90 cents to $3.50 over the July 2024 futures.  New crop soybeans basis levels range from $2.95-$3.45 over the November 2024 futures.  Ontario SRW wheat prices are in the $8.05 range.   On May 10th the US replacement price for corn was $6.40/bushel.  You can access all these Ontario grain prices in the marketing section at

  The Bottom Line

     The grain trading activity of the last few weeks have offered some optimism to producers that are hoping for better prices. The wheat price is the prime example, it seemed moribund, but has rallied significantly over a last several weeks. Keep in mind it is at a time of the year when there’s lots of production risk on the table. We are also headed into June where seasonality tells us we get sometimes our best opportunities to price corn and soybeans.  Things are still bearish, but this is the time of the year when pricing opportunities are incubated.

     These grain pricing opportunities have much to do with what the weather is doing with crops. At the present time we have planting delays in many parts of the eastern corn belt. This is even contributed to the rally over the last couple of weeks as shorts grew nervous.  However, keep in mind that we are still not there and likely won’t be there for a couple more weeks. Planting delays into June will cause problems but it’s unlikely to impact the big global and domestic big supply situation.  “Hot and Dry” In July might have a much more major implications for prices.

     Forgetting cash prices for a minute, how about soybean futures prices in the teens and December corn futures over $5? It would seem at this time that it is unlikely for soybeans, but maybe so briefly for corn. There is simply a lot of grain around and we know that big supply is not only on the ground but is being planted.  If we did get to those levels it would seem like a good marketing opportunity especially for 2024.  As it is, USDA is predicting bigger stocks for next year. We know that as we move into June seasonality tells us these prices might be realized.  However, it could be a very narrow window.

     The outlook for soybeans on the world stage is quite bearish especially when you consider those big numbers that USDA is projecting for next year’s Brazilian soybean crop which will be planted in October. This 6.2-billion-bushel projection is still a theory at this point, but it will weigh on prices as our weather gets warmer.  However, keep in mind, that’s why we keep score.  There is lots of production risk ahead in both the northern and southern hemisphere.

Commodity Specific Comments


     Like all of our grain markets the corn market has had a large contingent of non-commercial players being short in the market over the last several months and it is still there. We are entering a time when corn planting is well underway, and any planting delays might make those shorts nervous. You could surmise that over the next 30 days this nervousness might take some of these people out as positions change and drives the corn price higher.  If there is nothing like that and at the end of June it looks good, these short players will likely be back.

     The USDA progress report shows that we are behind last year planting progress as wet weather has inundated many parts of the corn belt. However, keep in mind that the crop can go in quickly and too much rain is never really looked at as a bullish factor for price. Doesn’t “rain make grain”?  As farmers, we know that is not always the case but from 30,000 feet, speculators and grain traders often think that way.

    The December 2024 corn contract is currently priced at 11.5 cents below the March 2025 contract which is a bearish indication of new crop corn demand. Seasonally, we know that corn prices tend to peak in early June and bottom out in early October. The December 2024 futures contract is at the 39th percentile of the past five-year price distribution range.


     The USDA continues with their penchant for not cutting Brazilian soybean production as much as private estimates have. For instance, they reduced it slightly to 154 MMTs.  Pre report hunches had the USDA cutting it further, but this did not happen. However, even if you cut 14 MMTs out from Brazil’s production, it’s still hard to see this as a bullish situation.

     There have been all kinds of disastrous flooding in southern Brazil causing some angst for traders as this would not be reflected in the USDA report.   The pictures of combines working through water have been impressive as well as some grain structures being impacted.  However, at this late stage it will not impact Brazilian soybean fundamentals significantly.

     The November 2024 soybean contract is currently priced 8.25 cents below the March 2025 contract which is considered neutral to bearish for new crop beans.   Seasonally, soybean prices tend to peak in early July and bottom out in early October. The November 2024 soybean contract is currently at the 50th percentile of the past five-year price distribution range.


     What is up with the wheat price? We have had quite a run up in the wheat price over the last month with May 10th being the time to sell. I think you have to ask yourself the question how much was this with nervous shorts in the market versus any type of fundamental rise? We’ve all known that non-commercial players were short in all the grain markets.  Its been true especially in wheat with short covering partially causing this price appreciation. However, there have been problems in France with wheat as well as Russia. Needless to say, whatever it is has presented a marketing opportunity.

     With wheat usually in a chronic bearish situation, $8 cash wheat in Ontario is welcome news.  Of course, this reflects the lower Canadian dollar coming together with a 70 to 80 cent rise in the price of wheat since March. As it is, the Ontario wheat crop in mid-May looks very good ahead of normal as fungicide and herbicide application is being made. Of course, as we look ahead there is always production risks to wheat as well as quality issues on the grading table.  We move forward with caution.

The Bottom Line (cont.)

     The Canadian dollar continues to flutter in the 73 cent US level, which is good for Ontario cash grain prices. It will be very important as we go into June, a time of traditional seasonality of higher prices to capture attractive futures prices along with local basis opportunities. It cannot be lost on Ontario farmers that this constant balancing act is so important. Having the Canadian dollar in the low 70s represents opportunities versus having the same dollar being close to $0.80 or even above. It shouldn’t be lost in this debate that that very scenario could come true in the future putting a negative bent on Ontario cash grain prices.

     As we head into June many are expecting the Bank of Canada to actually decrease interest rates after holding the line on successive announcements over the last several months. Generally speaking, any decrease in interest rates would be negative for the Canadian dollar. However, it is almost hard to imagine the Canadian dollar going back down into the $0.60 range. Needless to say, the interest rate decisions by the Bank of Canada in June will be of interest to farmers across Ontario.

     There are many moving targets as we continue on into early summer. This is especially true on the geopolitical front where Russia and Ukraine are still involved in a hot war as well as the problems in the Middle East.  To a large extent some of this has been dialed in especially when you consider the world wheat market. Russia and Ukraine no longer present the Black Swan that they did in 2021. At the same time, we need to be aware of the production problems in these regions as they are still very important production areas for global grain flow.  Keeping abreast of these world events are always a default within any grain marketing plan.

     The challenge for Ontario grain farmers is to measure all of these factors that are affecting our prices as we go into early summer. Seasonality tells us that maybe we should be a little bit more aggressive selling new crop grain into the months of June and July. History tells us that market highs are often made in these months. Of course, the marketing landscape is always uneven each marketing day and week. Perspective can change. Daily market intelligence and diligence is always key.  As the weather warms up have those standing market orders ready.  There will be many marketing opportunities ahead.