USDA Reports: “Comfortably Numb”

By Darin Newsom
DTN Senior Analyst

You know the feeling of eating to the point your mind goes numb, so you eat a little bit more? Domestic and global stocks of grain are looking at the same situation.

USDA will release its latest Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) reports at 11 a.m. CST Tuesday.


Average pre-report estimates for domestic ending stocks show slight increases for all three major grains (corn, soybeans and wheat). Most likely, these gains will come from decreases in demand with the latest weekly export shipment report showing marketing-year totals for soybeans trailing last year by 11%, wheat lagging by 15%, and corn behind last year’s pace by a whopping 22%. In its January Supply and Demand report, USDA pegged year-to-year changes at 8%, 6% and 9%, respectively. Given these numbers, it would not be surprising to see USDA come in larger than the average estimates, but most likely not near the high side of estimates, at least not yet.


On the other hand, global ending stocks are expected to be trimmed ever so slightly. The average pre-report estimate for corn came in at 208 million metric tons as compared to January’s WASDE figure of 208.9 mmt. Soybeans were estimated at 79.1 mmt versus last month’s 79.3 mmt, while global wheat stocks were near a virtual tie with January’s 232.0 mmt. Again, the end result could be bearish if global production numbers come in higher than expected and demand stays near unchanged.


As usual, this category could be one of the most closely watched in the February reports. There has been a great deal of discussion about the size of South America’s corn and soybean crops, some of it echoing what has been heard in the U.S. the last couple of years. “Early season weather problems should trim crop production,” the argument goes. Yet it hasn’t been seen domestically and most likely won’t show up in the February WASDE report either. The average pre-report estimate for Brazilian soybeans came in at 99.2 mmt, down slightly from the much-talked-about 100 mmt from the last few months. There is a strong likelihood USDA could leave this number unchanged for another month. Argentina’s soybean crop is expected to be forecast slightly larger than last month’s 57.0 mmt. The situation in corn is similar, with average pre-report estimates showing only small changes from January.

U.S. ENDING STOCKS (billion bushels)
Feb. Avg High Low Jan. 2014-15
Corn 1.809 1.852 1.772 1.802 1.731
Soybeans 0.444 0.475 0.403 0.440 0.191
Sorghum 0.064 0.066 0.062 0.065 0.018
Wheat 0.946 0.968 0.930 0.941 0.752
WORLD ENDING STOCKS (million metric tons)
Feb. Avg High Low Jan. 2014-15
Corn 208.0 210.0 203.5 208.9 207.2
Soybeans 79.1 81.0 76.4 79.3 76.9
Wheat 231.9 234.0 229.7 232.0 212.8
WORLD PRODUCTION (million metric tons)
Feb. Avg High Low Jan. 2014-15
Australia 26.0 23.7
Argentina 10.5 12.5
Brazil 81.6 83.0 80.5 81.5 85.0
Argentina 25.3 26.0 23.0 25.6 26.5
Brazil 99.2 101.0 98.0 100.0 96.2
Argentina 57.1 59.0 56.0 57.0 61.4

Darin Newsom can be reached at

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