Most of the discussion in the corn market has centered on U.S. planting progress, the likely magnitude of planted acreage, and the U.S. average yield potential.

The pace of planting as revealed by the USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report will continue to be monitored closely for clues about production potential, according to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

“The checkered history of acreage response and yield outcomes in years of late planting has been well documented so that considerable production uncertainty will persist well into the growing season,” Good said.

“In the meantime, the pace of consumption will reveal the strength of corn demand, provide some clues about the likely level of stocks at the end of the current marketing year, and provide some insight into potential market size in the upcoming marketing year.”

Good said that two story lines have unfolded for the corn export market. The magnitude of new sales has generally been larger than required to sell the 800 million bushels that USDA expects to be exported this year.

Sales for the three weeks ended, April 25, for example, averaged 13.7 million bushels per week. Sales of about 7.9 million bushels per week are needed for total sales to reach 800 million bushels by year’s end.

“On the other hand, the pace of export shipments has been less than needed in order to reach 800 million bushels.

“Inspections for the five weeks ended May 2 averaged 11.2 million bushels per week,” Good said.

“With just over 17 weeks left in the year, shipments need to average 17.2 million bushels per week in order to reach 800 million bushels (calculations include census export estimates through March). Exports may fall slightly below the current projection.”

The USDA projects corn used for ethanol and by-products will total 4.55 billion bushels for the current marketing year, 461 million bushels less than used last year.

Use during the first half of the marketing year was estimated at 2.27 billion bushels, 302 million bushels (11.7 percent) less than during the first half of the previous marketing year.