Low-volume night trade has lower action.

Grain futures were lower overnight, in one of the lowest volume trading nights since last fall. Volume plummeted to just 15,000 contracts in corn and 12,000 contracts in soybeans, and these volume numbers were after the export sales data was released, which showed a strong number for corn, but the market knows it's old news. “What can you do for me now” continues to be the adage, irrelevant that sharply lower prices bring in more demand we don't need and can supply. But then, maybe the marketplace wants that to fuel much higher prices in the 2nd quarter.

USDA Ag Sec Vilsack offered that China's ASF troubles remain but are under control in speaking to US National Farm Broadcasters members. Sec Vilsack and his Chinese counterpart held a conference call Wednesday morning China time in a meet-and-greet that offered information in both directions. Sec Vilsack stated that China is still having local outbreaks of ASF, but that the situation is not nearly as bad as 6-9 months ago. The news helps confirm why China's pork prices are sliding on larger herd numbers and the improved grain and soy import demand that will follow.

The Russian ag minister indicated that Russia would soon place export taxes on sunflower seeds/sunoil to halt the domestic price's ongoing rise. The tax will be based on a formula like the one that will be launched on wheat in June. There is growing concern that Russia will have replanting of wheat acres in 2 other crops in Central Russia and Volga.

In South America, a high-pressure Ridge will continue to block rain from the winter corn areas of Brazil for the next 10 days. Soil moisture is in sharp decline and warm temps will speed the arrival of crop stress on seedlings. Clients are strongly advised to pay close attention to coming 10-day daily C Brazilian forecasts. A high-pressure Ridge that has held across NE Brazil for the past 2 weeks shows clear signs of retrograding slightly westward to a position over Central Brazil by the opening days of April. The Ridge in this position will block moisture from the southern half of Mato Grosso and most of Parana. The lack of rain and coming heat will accelerate a decline of Brazilian winter corn soil moisture while quickening the soybean harvest pace. Near to above normal rainfall will stabilize Argentine crop yield potential, but April marks the start of a more aggressive phase of their harvest. Drier weather would help speed harvest activities. Near normal rain falls into Apr 5.

Yesterday's Fed Cattle Exchange had activity with steers in heifers bringing close to $116, which is $2 over last week's 5 area average. Other sales reported by the USDA were at $115 in the Southern Plains and $115-116 in Nebraska. Boxed beef traded mixed on Thursday with choice boxes selling $.85 better for the day, while selects were $1.16 lower. Optimism is priced into the summer and fall contracts versus nearby control of the packers unwilling to share large margins.