Next week (June 30th) USDA will release the quarterly grain stocks report for corn. These numbers have not been updated since March. It will reflect consumption patterns during the coronavirus pandemic.
The third-quarter grain stocks number is important because it gives the trade an actual tally of how much corn is left from the total available supply in the United States. Early this month USDA projected about 5.7 billion bushels of corn would be used this marketing year in the feed and residual category. This is the one that has the most scrunch room in it. University of Illinois Extension Agricultural Economist Todd Hubbs says if the June stocks report shows 4.89 billion bushels left in the bin, then things are on track, “It will be on track and you make actually see feed and residual move up a little bit if it is in that range. We typically see a fourth quarter feed and residual higher than what that would imply for the third quarter or the first three quarters’ feed and residual use. So, it is on track with the possibility of USDA raising feed and residual numbers.”
The feed and residual number, of course, isn’t the only consumption category for corn. Ethanol took a big hit during the first two months of the pandemic shut down as people stayed home and cars sat idle. The ethanol grind was down 26.7 percent in March and April. It was off in May, too, says Hubbs, “I assume that we will see the kind of convergence rate we’ve seen under the last couple of months of the lockdown. I have the (month of) May number at around 308 million bushels which puts total use for the quarter at around 969 million bushels. Which is way down from what we would normally do in the third quarter of the marketing year.”
The third primary consumption category is the export of corn. Hubbs expects it to be about 1.2 billion in total for the first 9 months of the marketing year. When you total it all up, the exports and the domestic usage, third quarter consumption looks to be right at three-billion-bushels. Hubbs says that number would put June 1 stocks at 4.89 and that figure is less than what was on hand last year at this time, “We would have slightly lower (stocks of corn), about 300 million bushels lower. We must remember we had much smaller crop in the previous year than we did in 2019. So, we will have fewer bushels in the bin, but we won’t be using as many bushels as we did in the last marketing year.”
USDA will update the grain stocks report next Tuesday, June 30th at 11am central time.