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Soybeans mostly higher, corn, wheat up ahead of Memorial Day

Soybeans were mostly modestly higher, finishing the week with solid gains. Beans consolidated, watching planting conditions, with markets closed on Monday for Memorial Day. That pushes the USDA’s weekly export inspections and crop progress and condition reports back to Tuesday. A big chunk of those planting concerns is tied to North Dakota, one of the biggest soybean producers in the U.S. Crush margins have dipped, but remain in positive territory, and the fundamental outlook is bullish for soybeans and products. Friday, soybean meal was higher and bean oil was lower, adjusting product spreads. Continued demand from China is a question mark, even as COVID restrictions ease in some areas. Beans are monitoring any potential changes to palm oil export policies in Indonesia and Malaysia, with the global vegetable oil industry also impacted by the lack of sunflower oil from Ukraine.

Corn was higher on commercial and technical buying, but still ended the week with the most active contracts modestly lower. More near-term planting delays are likely in parts of the northern Plains, with a significant number of acres at risk in North Dakota. Those acres haven’t been written off, yet, but a lot of the focus has turned to development weather in the places where planting has gone relatively smoothly recently. Demand for U.S. corn from China has ticked higher but might be dented by a recent agreement between Beijing and Brazil. Central Brazil is dry, stressing the critical second corn crop, while most of southern Brazil is expected to see solid near-term rain. France’s AgriMer says 99% of that nation’s corn crop is planted, with 91% rated good to excellent, 2% lower than last week.

The wheat complex was higher on commercial and technical buying, with the most active months mixed for the week. Spring wheat planting is slower than normal in the northern U.S. Plains and parts of Canada, while winter wheat conditions are near historically low levels. That’s mostly due to drought impacting hard red winter in the central and southern U.S. Plains. The trade is also monitoring planting conditions in Argentina and Australia, along with development weather in France, Germany, and India. France’s AgriMer says 69% of that nation’s soft wheat crop is in good to excellent shape, 4% less than last week, and now down 20% over the past three weeks due to dry weather earlier in the month. COCERAL sees the European Union soft wheat crop at 143 million tons, up 1.7 million the last guess thanks to improved rainfall in Spain. Russia continues to say it will allow an export corridor for Ukraine if NATO makes concessions on sanctions, but that’s unlikely for several reasons, including the potential for further Russian belligerence in the region and war crimes, not even mentioning the damage to Ukraine’s ag industry. Russia is allowing some civilian vessels to use the Mariupol port, while leaving their export duties in place. Russia continues to trade with some nations while what exports are leaving Ukraine are leaving by rail and truck.

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