U.S. projected ending stocks for old crop corn dropped 45 million bushels from last month to 856 million bushels due to higher-than-expected ethanol use and larger food, seed and industrial use, according to USDA's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, released April 8. Smaller ending stocks were also projected for old crop soybeans due to increased exports. Old crop rice and wheat stocks were also down from the previous month, while cotton stocks remained unchanged.

The projected price range for corn is up 10 cents on both ends to $2.45 to $2.65 per bushel, according to USDA. The projected sorghum price range is also up 10 cents to $2.45 to $2.65 per bushel.

Projected U.S. ending stocks of soybeans were down 10 million bushels from last month to 115 million bushels as higher exports and crush more than offset lower residual use. Soybean exports for 2003-04 are forecast at 900 million bushels, up 10 million bushels from last month. Lower South American production is expected to increase the competitiveness of U.S. soybeans in the second half of the marketing year despite tight supplies and higher prices.

U.S. soybean crush is forecast at 1.475 billion bushels, up 10 million bushels from last month. The increase reflects higher-than-expected crush through the second quarter of the marketing year. Domestic soybean meal use was increased 150,000 tons this month to 31.3 million tons, leaving projected use down 3 percent from 2002-03. Domestic production and disappearance of soybean oil were also raised.

The U.S. season-average soybean price range for 2003-04 was increased 25 cents on both ends of the range to $7.40 to $7.80 per bushel. Soybean oil prices was forecast at 31 to 33 cents per pound, up 0.5 cent on both ends of the range. Soybean meal prices are forecast at $265 to $285 per ton, up $20 on both ends of the range.

Brazil's soybean production was reduced 3.5 million tons to 56 million tons, based on drought-reduced yields in the southern producing region. Soybean production was also reduced 2 million tons for Argentina and Paraguay. Yields have been affected by dry weather during the growing season for both countries.

Projected U.S. rice imports for 2003-04 were lowered 1 million cwt to 14 million cwt based on a slower-than-expected import pace to date. Domestic and residual use was lowered 3 million cwt to 119 million cwt. Exports were raised 3 million cwt to 99 million cwt based on a higher-than-expected export pace to date. Exports of long-grain rice have been strong to markets in Latin America and Mexico.

Exports of rough rice are projected at 40 million cwt, 2 million cwt above last month, while exports of milled/brown rice are projected at 59 million cwt (rough-rice basis), 1 million cwt above last month. Exports of long-grain rice are projected at 79 million cwt, 3 million cwt above last month, while combined medium- and short-grain rice exports are projected at 20 million cwt, unchanged from a month ago.

Ending stocks are projected at 21.9 million cwt, 1 million cwt below last month, nearly 5 million cwt below 2002-03, and the lowest stocks since 1980-81. The season-average price range is unchanged at $7.45 to $7.75 per cwt.

World rice production, imports, exports, and consumption for 2003-04 were lowered from a month ago, while ending stocks were raised.

No changes are made to this month's U.S. supply and demand estimates for cotton. World trade and ending stocks were reduced marginally.

Projected U.S. 2003-04 ending stocks of wheat were down 13 million bushels from last month due to increased exports. Projected exports are 15 million bushels above last month because of increased world import demand and the strong pace of exports to date.

Global 2003-04 beginning stocks, production, and consumption were projected up slightly this month. Projected global stocks are up 2.5 million tons from last month, with the largest increases occurring in Iran (up 1.2 million tons), Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil, and Uzbekistan. These increases are partially offset by declines in the United States, China, Jordan, and Mexico.

e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com