Reports and data released by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) serve as the primary informers of the fundamentals underlying domestic and global agricultural futures markets. The schedule of key USDA reports on grains and oilseeds reflects the seasonality of the markets, with the annual Winter Wheat and Canola Seedings report kicking off the calendar year with a January release. Grain Stocks is then first released on the last business day in January, and quarterly thereafter. The last business day of March brings Prospective Plantings, which reports the planting intentions of the nation’s farmers for principal crops (including major grains, oilseeds, legumes and some starchy vegetables), sourced from a survey of tens of thousands of farm operators. Crop Progress begins in April, reported on the first business day of each week until the end of November. The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), which is released monthly throughout the year, holds special significance in May, when the report contains the first supply and demand estimates for the new marketing year. Acreage, an annual report released on the last business day in June, follows up on the metrics addressed in Prospective Plantings, enumerating reported planted acreage for principal crops. Like the May report, the September WASDE holds unique weight among the report’s monthly issues because it reports yield and production for spring-planted crops at the conclusion of their harvest.

Upcoming USDA releases in 2024:

  • Grain Stocks: March 28, June 28 and Sept. 30 at 12:00 p.m. ET
  • Prospective Plantings: March 28 at 12:00 p.m. ET
  • Crop Progress: Weekly April 1 through Nov. 25 at 4:00 p.m. ET
  • Acreage: June 28 at 12:00 p.m. ET
  • WASDE: March 8, Apr 11, May 10, June 12, July 12, Aug. 12, Sept. 12, Oct. 11, Nov. 8 and Dec. 10 at 12:00 p.m. ET

World Agricultural Supply Demand Estimates (WASDE, or WSD)

The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (known as the WASDE, or alternatively, WSD) is a monthly report containing annual supply and demand forecasts of domestic and international wheat, rice, coarse grains, oilseeds and cotton, with some coverage of sugar, meat, poultry, eggs and milk. The report is released at 11:00 a.m. CT (12:00 p.m. ET) between the 8th and 12th calendar days of each month.

The WASDE serves as perhaps the most important regular informer of supply and demand for domestic markets of corn, wheat and soybeans. Each month, industry players submit predictions to be aggregated by business intelligence firms Bloomberg LP and Refinitiv, with polling medians priced into futures markets by participants trading in anticipation of the number. When WASDE reports differ from polling expectation, the market responds: Lower-than-expected ending stocks are bullish for futures prices, while larger-than-expected endstocks are bearish. In terms of market movement: Corn, wheat and soybean endstocks are the numbers to watch, though constituent attributes may merit attention depending on the situation.

The WASDE is compiled by the World Agricultural Outlook Board (WOAB) and is comprised of inputs from the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Economic Research Service (ERS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Reporting on domestic acreage, yield and production is based on surveys conducted by the NASS.

The significance of individual WASDE reports reflects crop seasonality. The May WASDE contains the first estimates for supply and demand for the new marketing year, and the August and September WASDE reports contain the first production estimates and forecasts for spring-planted crops such as corn. The May WASDE also contains the first production forecasting on winter wheat, continually updating crop year production numbers until October, at which point data is finalized. Production for the current-year crop of soybeans is initially forecast in August and finalized in November.

Prospective Plantings

Often referred to as Planting Intentions, Prospective Plantings is an annual report released at 11:00 a.m. CT (12:00 p.m. ET) on the last business day in March. Compiled and released by NASS, the report contains the expected planting acreage for the upcoming crop year, as well as the previous year’s harvest for principal crops. Surveys conducted by the NASS in the first two weeks of March serve as the basis for the report’s data. The 2023 report’s underlying March Agricultural Survey sampled approximately 72,900 farm operators via postal mail, email and telephone.

Economist polling plays heavily into futures pricing leading up to the release of Prospective Plantings. In 2021, Prospective Plantings reported intended acreage for corn and soybeans fell short of analyst expectations, sending Corn and Soybeans futures limit up that day. The March 31, 2022, Prospective Plantings report was similarly impactful. Published intended acreage below analyst expectations sent CBOT December 2022 Corn futures up 4.23% on the day following the report release, from an opening price of 656^0 to 683^6 on the close.

CBOT December 2022 Corn futures

Although December 2023 Corn futures saw minimal daily price movement on the March 31, 2023, Prospective Plantings report, the instrument saw intraday price movement greater than any trade date in the prior month. May 2023 Corn futures rallied more than 10c per bushel on the day.

Acreage

Acreage, which is released on the last business day of June, can be seen as an extension of Prospective Plantings. While Prospective Plantings reports intended acreage for principal crops for the upcoming crop year, Acreage reports planted crops, serving as an indicator of how well the reality of the crop year met expectations at its outset. As is the case for many reports, analyst polling affects price movement post release, whereby a release reporting less than expected acreage would have a bullish effect on markets, and a release reporting more than expected acreage, bearish.

The 2023 Acreage report was extremely impactful for both Corn and Soybean futures. Reported acreage exceeded analyst expectation, sending December Corn futures plummeting 6.39% on the day, from 532 on the open, closing at 494^6.

CBOT December 2023 Corn futures

Conversely, new crop (November) 2023 Soybean futures jumped over 77 cents per bushel on the June 30, 2023, Acreage report, when the number fell below the polling average.  

CBOT November 2023 Soybean futures

Crop Progress (Weekly)

Crop Progress is released at 3:00 p.m. CT (4:00 p.m. ET) on the first business day of each week, April through November. The report is comprised of data submitted from reporters who observe crop progress and environmental conditions in their respective area. Reporters are present in almost every county nationwide, and more than 75 percent of national farm acreage by respective crop is covered by the report. Crop Progress reports planting, fruiting, harvesting progress and overall condition of corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans, rice, spring wheat, peanuts, barley, oats and winter wheat.

Grain Stocks (Quarterly)

Grain Stocks is released on the last business day of January, March, June and September at 11:00 a.m. CT (12:00 p.m. ET) and describes stocks of wheat, durum wheat, corn, sorghum, oats, barley, soybeans, flaxseed, canola, rapeseed, rye, sunflower, safflower and mustard seed. The report enumerates stocks by state and by position (on- or off-farm), as well as the capacity of relevant facilities. Data is collected via survey from farm operators and operators of commercial enterprises such as mills, elevators, warehouses, terminals and processors.  

CME Group offers a suite of futures and options products providing tailored exposure to a wide breadth of risk profiles. Learn more at www.cmegroup.com/agriculture.


All examples in this report are hypothetical interpretations of situations and are used for explanation purposes only. The views in this report reflect solely those of the author and not necessarily those of CME Group or its affiliated institutions. This report and the information herein should not be considered investment advice or the results of actual market experience.

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