USDA reports from the field are in for this week.
It might be hard to believe but the corn crop actually improved even more. Last week it was rated at 75% Good/Excellent. This week, that category increased to 76%. The improvement came at the expense of the Fair category which dropped 1 point to 19 from 20. That one point drop in the Fair ended up in the Excellent category which increased to 22% from 21%.
Improvements came in the Missouri crop. The big three, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana remained the same at a healthy 108, 111, and 108 on the ratings table with 100 considered normal.
34% of the crop is silking compared to last year's 15% and the 5 year average of 33%. The crop is way ahead of last year but right about on schedule.
On the soybean front, the percentage of the crop rated Good/Excellent remained the same at 72%. There was a 1% increase in the crop rated Excellent at 16% compared to last week's 15%. That came out of the Good category which dropped one percentage point to 56% from last week's 57%.
The Fair category lost 1% to the Poor category. 22% of the crop is rated Fair this week, down from 23% last week. 5% of the crop is rated Very Poor, up from 4% last week.
41% of the crop is now blooming, way ahead of last year's 24% and compared to the 5 year average of 37%. That earlier bloom period is important as it puts the crop a bit ahead of schedule meaning the current benign weather will keep it supported ahead of any potential heat/dryness issues that might arise in August.
There is a bit of chatter that this week's Polar Vortex (yes, you are reading that correctly) which is expected to hit the Mid-West later this week bringing unseasonably cool temperatures with it, might slow the crop down somewhat due to the lower overnight temps but I am not so sure about that. It takes soil a long time to cool off and a few days of cooler weather, along with sunshine I might add, is not going to impact soil temps all that much in my opinion. Mild day times temps will continue to eliminate any heat stress issues for these plants.
As far as the big three go, the Iowa bean crop improved to 106, the Illinois crop improved to 108 and the Indiana crop remained unchanged at 105.
Beans popped higher today on thoughts that possible hot/dry weather in August could crimp yields but that remains a ways off and thus far I have not seen any forecasts calling for that. What likely happened is that some shorts decided to book some profits after the market spiked up off its worst levels on Friday after the initial reaction to the bearish Supply and Demand report had run its course.
Corn and wheat got bumped higher as well on ideas that the sharp fall in prices would generate some commercial buying interest.
Switching gears here I am noticing that the gold miners ( HUI) is closing very near its low on the day. Ditto for the GDXJ which is down nearly 4.8% as I type up these comments.
The long bond is a tad weaker today. Expectations are that Yellen, speaking on the behalf of the Fed and not herself, will sound a bit more hawkish view on interest rates. Some of this was also a factor in the gold price drop today.
Some longs got nervous looking at the sharp spike in the number of NET LONGs among the hedge fund category. That number leapt from 51,280 the week of June 10 to last week's reading of 136,929. That is a significant increase in a mere three week period as it almost tripled.
We'll have to see whether or not gold can remain with a "13" handle in front of it. Much will depend on Yellen's testimony and obviously how the market reacts to that or how it interprets her comments.
I think people are coming around to the consensus that interest rate hikes are inevitable. No one seems to have the time nailed down however. That is what will be the focus.
"When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe." … Frederic Bastiat
Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God. – Archbishop Chaput
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