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USDA increases size of corn crop despite lowering yield projection
Market Analysis
By Karl Setzer
 Corn data from the September supply and demand report was more bearish than trade was expecting. The average U.S. corn yield is now estimated at 173.8 bushels per acre (bpa) compared to 175.1 bpa from last month. While this was down, total crop size increased 20 million bu (mbu) to 15.13 billion bu (bbu) due to increased harvested acres. The USDA revised their harvested acreage estimate on corn to 87.1 million from 86.32 million in previous outlooks. On the demand side, the USDA increased corn imports in the 2022/23 balance sheets by 5 mbu, raised exports by 40 mbu, and reduced FSI usage by 30 mbu. This decreased old crop ending stocks by 5 mbu to total 1.45 bbu. New crop demand was unchanged but with changes on old crop and elevated production, it put 2023/24 ending stocks at 2.22 bbu. This held new crop stocks to use at 15.4 percent and the average cash value on corn at $4.90 per bushel.
The average U.S. soybean yield was lowered from 50.9 bpa last month to 50.1 bpa this month. This lowered the U.S. soybean crop from 4.2 bbu to 4.146 bbu. The reduction would have been larger if not for harvested acres increasing 100,000 to 82.8 million. The USDA increased 2022/23 exports 10 mbu and lowered carryout to 250 mbu, which was in line with trade expectations. The USDA lowered new crop crush by 10 mbu and exports by 35 mbu and this tempered the smaller production estimate. This put 2023/24 ending stocks at 220 mbu, down 25 mbu from August, but well above the average trade estimate. The stocks to use on new crop soybeans remains at a rationing level of 5.2 percent and the USDA increased the average cash value to $12.90 per bushel. 
Few changes were made to global ending stocks for the 2022/23 marketing year, with corn at 299.5 million metric tons (mmt), soybeans at 103 mmt, and wheat at 267.1 mmt. Changes for the 2023/24 balance sheets were more noteworthy. Global ending stocks of wheat were reduced by a large 7 mmt to total 258.6 mmt. World corn ending stocks were elevated 3 mmt to total 314 mmt. Soybean ending stocks were held steady at 119.3 mmt.
Beef production for 2024 was left unchanged this month at 25.17 billion pounds. Pork production for 2024 was left unchanged at 27.34 billion pounds which is 180 million more than in 2023. Pork exports were lowered 80 million pounds this month to a 6.9-billion-pound total. The average steer value is estimated at $185.50 per hundredweight, and hogs are at $64.75 per hundredweight.
Prior to this data being released, China revised some of their supply and demand data as well. China is now forecasting 2022/23 soybean imports at 99.86 mmt, an increase of 4.66 mmt from their previous projection. China is also forecasting 2023/24 soybean imports of 97.25 mmt, up 3 mmt from prior estimates. Corn imports are expected to increase 1.5 mmt to total 20.5 mmt. Elevated animal numbers on feed are a primary reason behind the elevated import projections. While higher, these are still short of the 101 mmt the U.S. attaché is expecting. Chinese officials also put their 2023/24 corn production at 285 mmt this coming year compared to 277.5 mmt last year on elevated acreage.

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