Bloomberg News

Corn Stockpiles Fall to 8-Year Low; Wheat Supply Drops

March 30, 2012

(Corrects headline and first two paragraphs to note inventories are the lowest in eight years; Adds analyst comment in third paragraph.)

Corn inventories in the U.S., the world’s biggest grower and exporter, were down 7.9 percent on March 1 from a year earlier, the government said. Wheat supplies fell 16 percent, while soybeans reserves rose.

Corn stockpiles on March 1 totaled 6.009 billion bushels, down from 6.523 billion a year earlier and the lowest for that time of year since 2004, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. Analysts in a Bloomberg survey expected 6.16 billion, on average.

“It’s going to be a tight supply situation until farmers begin harvesting this year’s crops,” Marty Foreman, an economist for Doane Advisory Services Co. in St. Louis, said before the report. “We still need to grow a good crop this year to rebuild inventories.”

Before today, corn futures tumbled 11 percent since reaching a five-month high on March 19 on the Chicago Board of Trade, partly on concern that USDA would report a higher inventory estimate than analysts expected.

Analysts missed the USDA quarterly inventory forecasts for corn by an average of 225 million bushels in the past seven quarters, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s twice as much as in the previous five years and about equal to 12 months of Russian consumption.

Corn Market

Corn futures for May delivery fell 2.6 percent to $6.04 a bushel yesterday on the Chicago Board of Trade, after earlier touching a two-month low at $6.03.

“The biggest price factor for corn over the next month to six weeks will be planting progress and how much rain falls in parts of the Midwest where soil moisture has been depleted,” Foreman said.

U.S. wheat inventories at the start of this month totaled 1.201 billion bushels, down 16 percent from 1.425 billion a year earlier and below the 1.25 billion expected by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Wheat futures in Chicago before today dropped 17 percent in the past year as world inventories before the start of the Northern Hemisphere harvest are forecast to rise to a 12-year high. Yesterday, the May contract tumbled 2.9 percent to settle at $6.125 a bushel.

Soybean inventories on March 1 totaled 1.372 billion bushels, up 9.9 percent from the 1.249 billion a year earlier, the USDA said. The average analyst estimate was 1.371 billion bushels.

Consumption of the oilseed in the three months ended Feb. 29 totaled 998 million bushels, down 3 percent from a year earlier, the USDA said.

Soybean futures for May delivery declined 0.9 percent to s $13.555 a bushel yesterday on the CBOT. On March 25, the price touched $13.885, the highest since September as drought damaged crops in Brazil and Argentina, the two biggest growers after the U.S.

Corn is the most valuable U.S. crop, followed by soybeans, hay and wheat, USDA data show.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Wilson in Chicago at jwilson29@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net


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