The Super Bowl of market reports

Category: Sell Grain

Why the Jan USDA reports are so important

By Carrie Johnson

If you’re a market watcher, you likely paid attention in early December when Statistics Canada put out its report on 2017 production. There were a few surprises, as explained in the December 6 Morning Commentary.

But grain marketing advisors and analysts worth their salt know there’s no other report day quite like what’s coming up in January. I think of this day as the Super Bowl of USDA reports. While Cargill’s market analysts are always watching the markets, they sharpen their pencils, roll up their sleeves and make sure their eye glass prescriptions are accurate in preparation for this day.

Let’s put it in perspective. There are three basic types of market reports you’d typically watch for:

  1. Monthly WASDE reports – Released the 9-12th of each month.
  2. Crop production estimates – Cover either production or acre estimates, depending on time of year.
  3. Quarterly stocks reports – Released March 30, June 30, September 30. Normally the fourth report would hit on December 30, but because this has typically been holiday time, it comes out along with the WASDE in January.

November’s crop production estimate is one of the biggest of the year, and the Jan WASDE nails it down. With all three types of market reports converging on the same date in January, it can make for an interesting start to the new year, and just like the Super Bowl, it has an audience of millions watching each development.

During my time as a market analyst on the wheat desk in Minneapolis it was my job to make sense of what was going on with the WASDE and other reports, and for a number of years there was quite a bit of volatility. When you’re an analyst you start to think about all the people who are depending on your information to make decisions. Just as professional athletes do, you get a good dose of pre-game nerves, but if you’ve trained and prepared and have a strong team around you, you will perform.

For farmers, the key is to first understand why the Jan reports are so important, what are the important numbers it reveals, and what effect they will have on you.

All existing MarketSense clients will receive a recap of the January reports as well as any resulting recommendations. For more information, check out the MarketSense page

Carrie Johnson is a grain marketing expert and oversees Cargill’s advisory business in the US. Before taking her current role, she started her career with Cargill as a wheat analyst where she was in charge of forecasting US wheat demand, trade flow estimates and price analysis.

Tags: Grain marketing, Wheat Marketing, WASDE, MarketSense, USDA


  • Ron Schaeffer said Reply

    As a farmer, I have a hard time getting instantaneous information when the report is released. Is there a location that we can get the info instantly? Commentaries can wait thank you

  • Cargill said Reply

    Thanks for the question Ron. We recommend that if you'd like to see the reports instantly you go directly to the USDA website The reports are released at 11 am Central/12 pm Eastern. There are also links on the left side of the screen that will take you to more reports. Good luck! We definitely believe in arming yourself with information.

  • Howard Schafer said Reply

    I tried the above mentioned website but was informed it was not available on the server..I checked and it was entered correctly so not sure what issue may be? thanks

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