Farmers seek to sell some canola ahead of seeding

Ratings are better than expected for some U.S. wheat crops

ICE Futures Canada canola contracts moved lower during the week ended March 27, as fund traders bailed out of long positions. Declines in the CBOT (Chicago Board of Trade) soy complex contributed to the weaker tone in canola, but the Canadian futures outpaced their U.S. counterpart to the downside.

Fund traders were holding net long positions of over 40,000 contracts in the nearby May contract at the start of the week, according to trade estimates. Rolling those positions forward accounted for some of the activity, but the total open interest also declined by about 20,000 contracts over the course of the week.

Increased farmer selling was also thought to be weighing on canola, as producers look to book some sales before spring seeding.

The biggest losses came in the front months, with the new-crop November lagging to the downside as attention turns to the upcoming growing season and the need to keep some weather premiums in the market.

In the U.S., soybean and wheat futures were down during the week, but corn managed to post small gains.

All eyes in the U.S. grains and oilseeds will be on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s prospective plantings report, out on March 31. Average trade guesses call for an increase in soybean acres and a decline in corn, compared to last year, but the extent of that shift remains to be seen and participants will watch for any surprises in the data.

Trade guesses for soybeans acres range from 83 million to 88 million, with most estimates leaning to the higher end of that range, which would compare with the 83.7 million acres seeded in 2014. For corn, pre-report estimates range from about 87 million to 90 million acres, which would compare with the 90.6 million seeded the previous year.

Farmers in the southern U.S. states are already moving forward seeding this year’s corn crop, but adverse weather conditions have slowed seeding operations, and ideas that even more area will end up shifting out of corn and into soybeans contributed to the discrepancy in the two commodities.

The advancing South American harvest remains a bearish influence in the background as well, with big soybean crops out of the region already cutting into the export demand for U.S. supplies.

Wheat futures were down during the week, with poor export demand and a generally stronger U.S. dollar behind some of the weakness. Better-than-expected crop ratings from some U.S. states were also bearish for wheat, but there is also still more than enough uncertainty over weather conditions in many areas to keep some caution in those markets.

Spring wheat could have the most upside potential in the near term, with spring seeding just around the corner. Crop conditions in other wheat-growing regions of the world, especially Russia and Ukraine, will also provide some direction for wheat.

About the author

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Phil Franz-Warkentin - MarketsFarm

Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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