Rice Market: Southern Crop Will Undoubtably be Smaller
WMP factors had a big increase this week, although we don’t quite understand what motivated the change. Long grain rough values were increased by 22 cents and medium/short grain moved up by 23 cents. The on-farm WMP value of long grain rough was raised to $12.27 per cwt.
Wednesday brought the release of the monthly Supply/Demand Report from USDA, and in spite of all that has been going on in the market, Washington actually managed to increase the current marketing year’s long grain ending stocks figure by 1 million cwts.
With mills and exporters trying to source long grain rice from every nook and cranny in the South, where USDA got this idea is a mystery to the entire trade, even though, in reality, it’s not a departure from what has been done all year. In any case, with no other supply or use numbers changed in the report, this also caused the ending stocks for the 2013/14 marketing year to increase by the same million cwts – into a new crop year that will, undoubtedly, produce a smaller crop that was seen this year in the South.
The cash market paid no attention to the report, and the futures market saw a 42.5 cent run-up over the Wednesday and Thursday sessions. The only other long grain change was a 10 cent increase on both the low end and high end of the on farm price estimate to $13.90 to $14.90 for next year. Medium/short grain, on the other hand, saw a 1 million cwt reduction in this year’s carry over figure, which put the ending stocks projection for 2013/14 down to 8 million cwts. There we no other changes aside from raising the on farm price projection by 30 cents on both ends to $15.80 to $16.80 for the new crop.
Rice futures have had a strong two weeks of trading. Even though Friday’s settlement left the nearby July contract down only 6 cents on the day at 16.505, it was after being down 26 cents for literally sixty seconds or so early in the session. Friday was the first negative closing after ten straight days of settling in the positive and left the nearby up by a net of $1.34 over the last two weeks.
There was a mild technical reversal with Friday’s action, but closing down only 6 cents after such a strong run-up was not very convincing. Next week will reveal whether the market is ready for a big downward correction or not. It looks to us like the shorts are trying to cover, but we can’t tell if they are trying to move away from the rice or just looking for another spot to sell. In any case, we strongly advise caution if trading this or any other futures market. We also recommend avoiding the short side of this market, unless putting on a true hedge.
Keep in mind that well over 2,000 delivery receipts have been cancelled on the CBOT, and this is a setup for a potential delivery squeeze. We are not saying that will happen, but the conditions for it are being put into place. In other markets, the Dow finished at 15070.18, the Euro was at 1.3341 against the Dollar, and nearby crude oil futures ended the week at 97.89 per bbl. July grains and cotton ended the week with corn at 6.55, soybeans at 15.16-1/2, wheat at 6.80-3/4, and cotton at 91.29.
Export sales posted this week with USDA were a season high at 151,400 tons, and this at a time of the year when we would ordinarily be looking for 10,000 tons per week as the old crop winds down and buyers go on hold waiting for and expecting lower prices out of the new crop (it looks like that won’t be the case this year). Over 95% of the sales were in the long grain category.
A total of 53,700 tons of long grain rough were sold to Venezuela (30,000 tons), Panama (15,000 tons), Honduras (5,000 tons), and Guatemala, Mexico, and Nicaragua for a total 3,800 tons among them. Long grain milled and brown sales topped the list at 90,200 tons, the two biggest buyers being Haiti for 52,700 tons and Iran for 31,500 tons; smaller tonnages were sold to Saudi Arabia (parboiled), Canada, Mexico, and the Bahamas. Medium/short grain milled and brown sales totaled 7,500 tons, including 4,500 tons of brown bought by South Korea and 3,000 tons of milled primarily destined for Canada, Japan, and Hong Kong. It should be noted that all of the above sales were for shipment out of the old crop.
Export shipments for the week were also big at 133,700 tons. Mexico loaded out 22,200 tons, followed by Panama with 15,000 tons, Costa Rica with 8,800 tons, and Nicaragua with 100 tons. Long grain milled and brown shipments totaled 79,800 tons and included 31,500 tons lifted for Iran, 21,700 tons shipped to Haiti, 18,400 tons moved to Colombia, along with 3,000 tons to El Salvador, 1,700 tons to Canada, and 1,400 tons to Liberia. Small shipments of medium/short rough and brown went to Mexico and Taiwan. Medium/short milled shipments totaled 7,200 tons, with the principal consignees being Jordan, South Korea, and Israel.
Texas and Louisiana
The weather has been very cooperative in Texas and Louisiana over the last few weeks, and producers along I-10 are noting marked improvements in their rice crops. There are, however, still a lot of reports of thin, poor stands as well as duck damage in south Louisiana. Some who have made heavy inputs to their crops are expecting to see a fairly good outcome, but all agree that this crop will be an expensive one.
There is no way to tell what this crop will be like by simply looking at it now. Some fields are looking good “from the road”, but closer inspection on the ground and assessment of fields from the air tell a different story. We have not heard from anyone who expects good field yields this year, and all are hoping for decent milling outturns and good quality. Everyone seems to agree that the harvest in both states will be between three and four weeks later than usual.
We have heard of mills in Texas and Louisiana that have closed earlier than usual for regular annual maintaninence because they have run out of long grain rough to mill. At least one other mill has noted a slower pace of operation in order to ration the paddy they have yet to mill. A fairly good bit of new crop long grain has already traded in Texas at the $10.25 per cwt premium over loan. This is the stoutest opening bid (in an up-trending market) for new crop we can remember seeing from years past.
Those new crop bookings were made without any difference to the varieties offered – conventionals and hybrids were all booked together at the same prices. New crop bids in south Louisiana have moved up by 50 cents to $25.00 per bbl fob farm, and we are told that some moderate amounts were sold, mostly by producers concerned about storage space for a crop that looks like virtually all will be harvested in a very short time frame.
The Delta – Arkansas and Mississippi
New crop rice acres will be down substantially in the Delta/Arkansas region, but the acres that have been planted are showing good improvement with the onset of warmer and generally better weather. Mississippi is expecting acres to be off considerably from last year’s crop, but we don’t have a number just yet. Many in Arkansas, however, are expecting rice acres to be down around 200,000 this year, a good bit of which is attributed to the rain provoked prevented planted situation but also to competition from other crops.
The weather delays are causing predictions of harvest at least two weeks later than might be considered normal. There are concerns in this region, too, about low field yields in the new crop, with the expectation of a good crop but not a bumper crop. As has been the case for the last couple of years, all will be holding their breath until the quality and milling yields are known.
The feeling is that only tiny amounts of old crop are still in first hands, with Mississippi indicating a willingness to pay $16.50 per cwt delivered barge facility and Arkansas at something like $7.25 per bu fob farm. It looks like whatever rice may be left is not feeling any pressure to sell at present. Bids for new crop are indicated at a dollar under the Sep in Mississippi and getting no attention from sellers. New crop bids in Arkansas are reported at $7.05 per bu delivered mill, and the word is that “everybody” is bidding actively. We don’t know what kind of reaction this bid is getting.
Asian prices were mixed as the week came to a close, with Thai 100% Grade B off slightly to $510 per metric ton fob vessel but Thai parboiled up a bit to $560 per ton. Vietnamese 5% milled was called in a range between $365 and $380 per ton. Pakistani 5% long grain was quoted at $458 per ton, and Pakistani parboiled rice’s last quote was noted at $450 per ton. India finished the week with its 5% milled at $445 per ton and the parboiled at $430 per ton.