* Exporters struggle to source soy, corn for Oct. loadings
* Basis values could spike if rains persist
* Some exporters to renegotiate terms, pay demurrage
By Karl Plume
CHICAGO, Oct 9 U.S. grain exporters are
scrambling for corn and soybean supplies to meet their massive
export sales commitments as persistent rains kept most farmers
from harvesting their crops, trade sources said on Friday.
Exporters' basis bids are already at exceptionally strong
levels and could strengthen further if rains continued to delay
the harvest of a record soy crop and second-biggest corn crop.
Late spring planting followed by cool summer that slowed
crop development and on-and-off autumn rains have exporters
anxiously awaiting for an influx of corn and soybeans that, in
a normal harvest year, would have hit export channels.
"It's going to be a tight and uncomfortable period for
exporters and, until we get the harvest flowing more freely,
they'll be scrambling," said Jay O'Neil, senior agricultural
economist at Kansas State University's international grains
"We've seen the market act strong, act anxious for those
bushels, but we haven't seen a real war take place yet for
those bushels," he said.
Exporters at the U.S. Gulf, the main export point for U.S.
agricultural goods, have a good supply of old-crop corn on
hand, but basis levels have been firm as much of that corn may
not meet export standards and needs to be blended with better
quality new-crop supplies.
The spot soybean basis has been exceptionally strong due to
a record export pace and the tightest supplies in 32 years at
the end of the 2008/09 marketing year on Aug. 31.
On Friday, spot basis bids for corn shipped by barge to
U.S. Gulf export elevators were around 60 cents a bushel over
Chicago Board of Trade December futures contract CZ9,
compared with about 55 cents over a year ago.
Spot soybean basis bids were 90 cents a bushel over CBOT
November futures SX9, up from about 60 cents a year ago.
EYE ON HARVEST WEATHER
Traders said basis values for both commodities will remain
firm as long as Midwest farmers are unable to forge ahead with
their harvest the new crop.
Forecasters on Friday said that the U.S. Midwest could see
scattered showers at times next week, but conditions would
generally be drier than this week. However, fields may be slow
to dry out due to colder temperatures. [ID:nN0966072]
"If we get some of that rain next week like the forecasts
are calling for, it could get critical," said one Midwest
Only 10 percent of the U.S. corn crop and 15 percent of the
soybean crop were harvested as of last Sunday, well behind
their five-year averages of 25 percent and 36 percent,
according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.
If poor weather holds back the main thrust of the harvest
for much longer, basis values, particularly for soybeans, could
surge as exporters seek supplies to fill ocean-going vessels
scheduled for loading later this month.
Exporters may be forced to renegotiate terms with their
buyers if needed supplies are delayed. Stalled loadings of
ocean-going vessels may be subject to demurrage fees, which can
exceed $30,000 or more per day.
Soybean exports in the current marketing year are expected
to reach a record 35.52 million tonnes, according to USDA. To
date, U.S. export sales to China, the world's top soybean
importer, are more than 220 percent ahead of a year ago.
(Reporting by Karl Plume; Editing by Marguerita Choy)