Grain prices lift on short covering overnight.

Grain futures are higher across the board this morning after the heavy selling that’s been underway since Tuesday gave way in the night, and short covering kicked in for the Friday session. New crop soybeans leave the recovery with $0.15 gains popping it back above $12.00, and Dec corn above 5.00.

Overnight the Argentine soybean crop estimate by the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange lowered their total yield to 21 MMTs with 70% of the harvest completed. Harvest is expected to be near completion in early June, and some still expect the yield to be lowered, possibly another 1MMT.

The Plains Crop Quality tour yesterday estimated the Kansas wheat yield at 30 BPA, one BPA more than the NASS put out last Friday. This is 15 BPA below the five-year average. In prior years the crop quality tour has been held prior to the May crop estimate to provide guidance for the US wheat milling industry into the report. Many are wondering if holding the tour afterward creates a bias for the crop scouts. This year included a large contingency of crop scouts that had to be trained.

Three whistleblowers have come out against the USDA practices at the largest research facility outside Washington, DC. They claim staff cuts and lack of basic maintenance create hazardous conditions and hamper work efforts.

Ukraine’s Ag ministry released data showing that in 2023 spring grain was 86% planted. However, total planted acres are expected to be 5.5 Hectares, down from 5.9 Hectares planted last season.
The Central US weather forecast has models projecting a trend of below-normal rainfall for the Midwest over the next two weeks. The Canadian prairies have a chance of rain next week with accumulations of .25-1.25”. The E Midwest will be the driest area into June with limited rains. The best rain falls across SW US/Southern Plains with accumulations of 1-2.50”. The long-rated Central US weather model hints at heat and dryness during the first half of June.

Live and feeder cattle prices enjoyed a strong trade yesterday June cattle closing just five cents under the highest close of the spring. Meanwhile, feeder cattle all made new contract highs from spot forward into 2024. Cash market trade on Thursday was still seeing live sales in the South steady at $170, while light sales in IA/MN were quoted two dollars higher at $178. The firm outlook holds for today in the cash trade.

The latest weekly slaughter data shows that cumulative fed cattle slaughter is down 3% from last year, yet the heifer kill has been barely higher than last year. For the week of May 5, heifers made up 39.5% of the Fed slaughter, which was the most for that week since 1976. Year to date, heifers have made up 40.8% of the Fed cattle kill, which is the most since 2000. Today’s quarterly COF report, with by-class on feed data, will take on increased importance in future reports.

Today’s COF estimates have On Feed 96.5, Placed 96.3, and Marketed 90.3 compared to a year ago.