By Karen Braun
FORT COLLINS, Colo., March 10 (Reuters) – Global grain buyers including China have grown increasingly anxious with historic soybean crop losses in Brazil and the shutoff of exports out of key corn supplier Ukraine.
That has driven business to the United States, the top corn exporter and No.2 in soybeans. Corn bookings have only picked up in the latest week, but U.S. soy sales have been on fire for the last several weeks, very unusual for the time of year.
In the week ended March 3, the United States sold more than 4.3 million tonnes (165 million bushels) of old-crop corn and soybeans, a weekly volume that has been reached only a handful of times before, most recently a year ago.
In the latest week, China secured more than 1 million tonnes of soybeans to be shipped in the 2021-22 marketing year ending Aug.31. Unknown buyers, often thought to be representing China in the case of soybeans, notched 575,000 tonnes in gross sales.
Calendar year-to-date old-crop soybean sales through March 3 stood at 10.6 million tonnes, a record for the period. U.S. soybeans are heavily bought and shipped in the first few months of the marketing year because by now, Brazil should be harvesting and exporting its usually massive crop.
Recent Brazilian soybean exports have been strong, but the worst drought impacts were on the beans that get harvested and partisi kaca tempered shipped toward the back half of its campaign, likely why buyers are stocking up on U.S.supplies for the coming months.
The Department of Agriculture on Wednesday upped 2021-22 U.S. soybean exports by 40 million bushels to 2.09 billion (56.9 million tonnes) in the wake of the selling spree. Sales through March 3 covered 92% of that, close to pre-trade war averages, though bookings are still in progress.
corn sales for 2021-22 had been nothing special but not necessarily lagging either, though sales in the week ended March 3 hit a marketing-year high of 2.1 million tonnes. Destinations were routine, potentially suggesting that buyers were moving some demand forward with the unavailability of Ukrainian corn. China was absent from the list and has not bought U.S.
corn in 10 months.
USDA also increased 2021-22 U.S. corn exports on Wednesday, to 2.5 billion bushels (63.5 million tonnes) from 2.425 billion last month, coinciding with a sharp reduction in expected shipments out of Ukraine. Sales through March 3 covered 79% of that outlook, down from the year-ago 90% but above the previous years´ average of about 70%.
There have been very few daily U.S.corn sales announced by USDA in recent weeks, especially compared with the near continuous pace for soybeans, so last week´s booking strength was surprising to the market.
U.S. exporters already have a great book for the upcoming 2022-23 marketing year starting Sept.1. New-crop soybean sales through March 3 of 7.6 million tonnes, almost all to China and unknown, are more than 20% above 2011´s record and up 50% from a year ago.
In the latest week, new-crop U.S. soybean sales at 895,000 tonnes combined with old-crop sales for 3.1 million tonnes, the most sold in a single week since September 2020.
New-crop corn sales stand at 1.9 million tonnes, mostly to Mexico, and that is slightly off 2013´s high of 2 million. Some 1.5 million tonnes had been sold by the same date last year.Karen Braun is a market analyst for Reuters and views expressed above are her own.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)