corn against blue skies

Weekly Commentary: Ag markets opened the week sharply lower, pressured by trade tensions


Quick glance:

  • Corn conditions dropped 1% with soybean conditions stuck at 54%
  • China halts Ag purchases from U.S. as Trump proposes adding more tariffs on the country
  • A possibility for rain next week could bring relief for very dry areas in the heart of the Midwest 

Crop Ratings

  • Corn and soybean condition ratings this afternoon was as expected with corn decreasing 1% to 57% good to excellent (GTE) compared to last year’s 71% GTE rating. Soybeans remained unchanged from the last two weeks at 54% GTE versus last year’s 67% GE rating. Some traders were looking for improvements in the Western Corn Belt but declines in the Eastern Corn Belt.
  • Focus was also on silking progress. Corn silking rose to 48% vs. 58% last week vs. the 93% five-year average.
  • Soybean blooming jumped to 66% vs 48% last week vs. the 87% five-year average.
  • It could be a very choppy week as the USDA’s August 12 crop report comes out next week. That report is set to include a revision of prior crop estimates and will help clarify crop acreage numbers, but some traders believe yield projections will still be unknown.

Feed Grains

  • Soybean markets are taking a hard hit from the trade tensions. Privately run Chinese crushers that had received retaliatory tariff waivers on American soybeans from Beijing have stopped buying the commodity due to trade uncertainty.
  • R.J. O'brien reports China’s imports of U.S. soybeans dropped to the lowest since at least 2004. China’s October to June soybean imports were at 56.6 million metric tonnes (mmt), compared to 69.9 mmt last year. U.S. soybean shipments to China for 2018-19 marketing year estimated at 12.3 mmt with 4.25 mmt is still unshipped - excluding the 1.5 mmt of soybeans in the unknown sales category. A Chinese State Planner says that 2 million tonnes of old U.S. soybean purchases will be shipped to China this month, and that Trump's claims that China has not purchased U.S. agriculture are not true according to Chinese state media.
  • Bloomberg reports U.S. corn farmers may have planted 83.5 million acres in 2019, the lowest in 13 years, according to a report from Farm Futures, citing survey results from growers. The USDA's latest planting estimates have corn planted at 91.7 million acres.  


  • A chance for rains in the very dry areas in the heart of the Midwest is a possibility next week. This will likely be the single greatest trend to watch for in the next 7-10 days for North America grain and oil seed production. The change, however, will only be temporary.

U.S.- China Trade Updates

  • President Trump proposed on Thursday adding 10% tariffs on another $300 billion in imports. Bloomberg reported China’s government ordered their state-owned companies to suspend any new purchases of U.S. products. Many traders are concerned China may cancel additional unshipped U.S. soybean purchases. 
  • China’s Yuan currency fell to its lowest level in more than a decade, causing a ripple effect in the markets. China has historically controlled its currency, which was one of the initial causes of the trade war. CNBC reports the People’s Bank of China denied “devaluing the Yuan as a counter to U.S. tariffs.”