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Weekly Grain Movement: Corn shipments remain steady

iStockphoto Illustration of two container ships facing each other on the water, one with USA flag
Unexpected buyers power soybean shipments.

Soybean futures prices in Chicago steadily pushed higher this morning, fueled largely by hot and dry forecasts in South America during peak crop development. But USDA branch of the Federal Grain Inspection Service’s weekly Grains Inspected and/or Weighed for Export report released this morning added a bit more fuel to the rally.

Through the week ending Dec. 23, USDA-FGIS reported that export inspection certificates were issued or finalized for 58.0 million bushels of soybeans. While that may have marked a 17% decline in weekly volumes, markets seemed largely unphased by the lower soybean loading volume as early morning rallies extended into the afternoon.

While China has begun to scale back its soy purchases from the U.S., through the week ending Dec. 23 soy shipments bound for China out of U.S. terminals totaled 14.3 million bushels. Germany (5.7M bu.) and Turkey (4.4M bu.) rounded out the top three destinations for U.S. soybeans over the past week.

The smaller numbers tell a bigger story this week. This time last year, Turkey had not purchased any U.S. soybeans. As of last week, it had taken possession of over 10 million bushels of U.S. soybeans. Germany has already purchased nearly 5% more soybeans than this time last year.

So while China may be pulling back its export paces in line with seasonal trends, the soybean volumes shipped to Turkey and Germany this week suggest that the boost in international demand for U.S. soybeans could provide a leg of support for soybean prices in the coming months.

Corn shipments remain steady

Corn shipments inspected and certified for export at U.S. terminals through the week ending Dec. 23 came in 11.1 million bushels lower than the previous week at 28.3 million bushels. Mexico was the top destination for U.S. corn last week, with nearly 12.1 million bushels shipped to our neighbor to the South last week.

China held the second-place title for weekly corn shipments at 5.4 million bushels. Japan came in third at nearly 4.0 million bushels. The majority of last week’s corn shipments were sourced out of the Gulf of Mexico – a total of 14.2 million bushels or 50% of the week’s total corn export volumes.

Corn export season typically does not reach its fever pitch until late February. Today’s numbers were stable enough to prevent price gains from being reversed but not enough to add to the South American weather-induced rally.

Wheat volumes inch up

Wheat shipment volumes inspected and certified for export at U.S. terminals last week rose nearly 20% from the previous week to just shy of 10.0 million bushels. Hard red winter wheat shipments made up the lion’s share of the week’s wheat export volumes, with 7.0 million bushels snapped up by international buyers last week. Most of that total was shipped out of terminals in the U.S. Gulf.

Shipments to Japan were the largest of the week, totaling 3.3 million bushels. Colombia (1.7M bu.) and Mexico (1.4M bu.) rounded out the top three destinations for U.S. wheat shipments last week. Ports in the U.S. Gulf (4.9M bu.) and Pacific Northwest (4.4M bu.) jockeyed for the top origin of U.S. wheat to international destinations last week.

Wheat shipments tapered off slightly in last week’s Export Sales report issued on Thursday by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. If today’s report is any indicator, weekly wheat export volumes could realign back with historical trends during the Dec. 17-23 reporting week in Thursday’s reports.

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