Soybean futures ended 2014 on a whimper, down close to 20¢ per bushel across the board. The market didn’t act much better the first the first day of 2015, with the January contract closing at $10.02. November slid below $10, closing at $9.93.
With the large U.S. crop and prospects for large crops in South America, analysts see further pressure on prices. USDA’s Jan. 12 supply and demand reports are likely to show tightening old crop inventories, but the threat of burdensome supplies ahead could limit rallies, says Bryce Knorr, senior editor of Farm Futures.
He adds that good rainfall amounts in South America continue to favor record production in Brazil and Argentina. “While storms moving through southern Brazil will be watched for signs of flooding, moisture levels overall remain good,” he says. “Southern Argentina is trending a little drier, but the main soybean area is receiving regular rains.”
John Newton, University of Illinois ag economists, was among the U of IL farmdoc team that pondered last week whether the huge soybean and corn production would end the recent era of higher grain prices. He says a main factor is export potential, particularly China's demand for soybeans, which has continued to grow at an impressive pace in recent years.
“China is projected to import more than 2.7 billion bushels in 2014-15, which represents more than 60 million acres of soybean production around the world,” Newton says. “In our view, the combination of these two demand factors continues to provide strong support for the new era projections going forward.”
Newton said U.S. soybean yield in 2014 actually outranks corn in terms of positive deviation from trend yields. He adds that it’s important to emphasize that “even in the new era there may be relatively long runs of below-average prices. Also, both corn and soybean prices recently completed very long runs above the new era averages.
“History suggests that it is quite unlikely that corn or soybean prices will soon experience another long run of above average prices,” Newton says. “However, history also shows that it is unusual for a long run of above average prices to be followed by a long run of below average prices. The more likely outcome is a series of positive and negative runs of varying but shorter lengths.”
Demand in the U.S. could expand, according to the latest USDA hogs and pigs report, says National Hog Farmer, sister publication to Corn+Soybean Digest. In Friday’s National Hog Farmer, Altin Kalo, Steiner Consulting Group, says, “We’ve had a pretty significant increase in the breeding herd over the last couple of quarters.
“For the previous quarter the breeding herd increased 1.8% from the previous year. For this quarter as of Dec. 1, the breeding herd was pegged at 3.7% higher than a year ago. You have to go back 15 years or so to see that kind of increase in the breeding herd.”