First Rating Boosts Corn

This year’s first corn condition rating disappointed futures traders, resulting in a rebound to recover about half of Monday’s losses.

The nearby Jul contract settled near the midpoint of the day’s range at $3.72 a bushel, up 5 cents on the day.  The move was not particularly remarkable, except that it closed above some major moving averages on some solid fundamental news.

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service rating was 65% good to excellent, compared with 72% a year earlier.  About 91% was planted, well ahead of last week’s 84% but behind the 93% of both last year and the 2012-2016 average.

NASS reported that 73% of the corn crop had emerged, compared with 54% last week and 75% for last year and the five-year average.

Market sources reported that traders had expected the crop to be rated about 68% good to excellent and said it called into question its ability to meet the USDA’s 170.7-bushels-per-acre forecast.




The USDA’s Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin said rainfall slackened across major Midwestern corn and soybean production areas last week, but cool weather and occasional showers maintained a sluggish fieldwork pace.

Some of the most significant Midwestern rain, locally 1 to 2 inches, fell from Missouri into the lower Great Lakes region, the Bulletin said.  In addition, cool conditions dominated the nation’s mid-section, with weekly temperatures averaging at least 5 degrees Fahrenheit below normal across a broad area centered across the upper Midwest.

Patchy freezes continued to affect portions of the northern Plains, especially from May 21-24.

Farther south, drenching rains eased or eradicated most of the remaining Southeastern drought concerns, except across Florida’s peninsula.  Much of central and southern Florida’s rain—totaling less than an inch in most locations—fell on May 24, and was followed by a return of hot, dry weather.

In contrast, most areas west of the Rockies experienced a full week of dry weather, promoting a rapid fieldwork pace.  In the Far West, very warm weather not only favored crop development but also melted high-elevation snowpack and left some rivers running high.

In addition to the lower overall crop rating, the problem areas were the heart of the Corn Belt.  Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kansas were major sore points in the report, and traders reasoned that problems in these states posed a greater risk than if they had been in other, less productive states.

Plus, the wet weather is causing some replanting in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, and the season is getting shorter.  Traditionally, May 15 is a cutoff date for when the crop begins to lose yield potential.  Newer hybrids have marginalized this date somewhat, but time is getting short.




Fed cattle traded on the livestock exchange Wednesday at an average of $132.18 per cwt on a live basis, down $0.36 from $132.54 a week earlier.  Cash trading then took place at $131.25 to $132.50, steady to down $0.75.

Cattle traded on the exchange last Wednesday at an average of $132.54 per cwt live, down $2.27 from $134.81 a week earlier.  Cash cattle then traded at $132 to $132.50 live, down $1 to $1.50.  Dressed-basis trade was reported at $208 to $210, down $4.

The USDA’s choice cutout Wednesday was up $0.29 per cwt at $245.54, while select was off $1.27 at $218.18.  The choice/select spread widened to $27.36 from $25.80 with 139 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Tuesday was $145.53 per cwt, down $0.08.  This compares with Wednesday’s Aug settlement at $152.57, up $2.65.