US corn exports may have fallen to eight-year low

images (5) Cargo data suggest that US corn exports fell to an eight-year low this season, further than agriculture officials have factored in and suggesting more of the grain left over for domestic users.

However, for soybeans, inventories may prove tighter than the the US Department of Agriculture is currently banking on.

US corn exports, as measured by cargo inspections, came in at 27.3m bushels in the week to Thursday, taking the total for the 2010-11 year so far to 1.766bn bushels, USDA data show.

Making a 20m bushel allowance for the remaining data of the season, which closes on Wednesday, would put the final total "near 1.790bn", and short of the USDA estimate of 1.825bn bushels, Darrell Holaday at broker Country Futures said.

"The USDA will need to trim that number for the current crop year," Mr Holaday said.

Eight-year low

Such a revision would be welcome news to corn buyers for whom – with stocks viewed near the so-called pipeline minimum below which they cannot effectively fall – any uplift to supplies, even of 35m bushels, will be keenly welcomed.

The USDA currently estimates US corn stocks ending the crop year, which closes tomorrow (Wednesday), at 940m bushels.

Corn exports at 1.790bn would be the lowest since 2002-03, in the face of tight supplies and prices which, in June, hit a record just below $8 a bushel on Chicago’s futures market.

‘Stocks could be smaller’

However, for soybeans, exports of 8.2m bushels in the latest week, lifting the marketing year total to 1.481bn bushels, look enough to keep shipments on track to meet official forecasts.

The soybean export number for 2010-11 "will be likely be in line with USDA projections" of `1.495bn bushels, Mr Holaday said.

But this follows data last week suggesting that domestic use of the oilseed is proving more significant than the USDA has factored in.

The crush in July, at 129.6m bushels, was 200m bushels higher than the June figure, and leaves the August number needing to reach just 122m bushels to meet the USDA projection for the full year.

"It now appears that the crush may be slightly larger than the current projection," Darrel Good, agricultural economist at the University of Illinois, said.

"The larger crush in July suggests that [end-2010-11 soybean] stocks could be marginally smaller than projected, since exports are right on pace to reach the projection."

The USDA currently foresees soybean inventories ending the marketing year, which also closes tomorrow, at 230m bushels.–3536.html

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