U.S. grains: Corn posts steepest drop in three years on USDA acreage view

CBOT September 2019 corn with 20-, 50- and 100-day moving averages. (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures plunged by the most in nearly three years on Friday after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pegged U.S. planted acres well above trade expectations despite rains and flooding this spring that disrupted sowing.

Soybeans firmed on USDA’s smaller-than-expected acreage estimate, while wheat fell in tandem with plummeting corn prices.

In its annual acreage report on Friday, USDA said U.S. farmers planted 91.7 million acres of corn and 80 million acres of soybeans. This compares with the government’s March forecasts of 92.8 million corn acres and 84.6 million soybean acres.

Analysts, on average, were expecting corn acres at 86.6 million and soybean acres at 84.4 million.

Corn futures dropped despite widespread belief the actual acreage figure was considerably lower.

“These are intentions of the farmers in the first two weeks of June, so this is probably not what was actually planted. These numbers are certainly going to be subject to change, for corn and soybeans both,” said Brian Hoops, president of Midwest Marketing Solutions.

USDA said it would resurvey farmers in 14 states next month on planted acres, including for corn and soybeans, and would release updated figures on Aug. 12 if the collected data warrants an update.

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) September corn settled down 21 cents at $4.24-3/4 per bushel at close after earlier sinking by the daily 25-cent limit (all figures US$). The 4.7 per cent drop was the steepest for a most actively traded corn contract since July 6, 2016.

New-crop December futures were down 19-1/2 cents at $4.31-1/2 per bushel, recovering slightly from an earlier limit decline.

CBOT August soybeans settled 10-3/4 cents higher at $9.04-1/2 bushel while new-crop November soybeans gained 10-3/4 cents to $9.23 a bushel.

CBOT September wheat settled 19-1/2 cents lower at $5.27-1/4 per bushel.

Soybeans drew some additional support from a surprise U.S. soybean sale to China announced by the USDA ahead of a G20 summit meeting on Saturday between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

USDA also released quarterly stocks data for corn, soy and wheat on Friday, although the market’s focus was squarely on the surprising acreage estimates.

— Reporting for Reuters by Barbara Smith and Karl Plume; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney.

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