Soybean prices on CHX up 20% since early August

Soybean prices at the Chicago Stock Exchange have soared since the beginning of August. Since then, they have risen 20 percent to the equivalent of 325 euros per metric ton ($10.50 a bushel). This is the highest level since May 2018. The driving factor in the past two and a half months has been dry sowing conditions in Brazil.

Image: UFOP

This situation could delay sowings and also harvests―to the extent buoyant demand from China for U.S. beans. This shows, on the one hand, how large China's soybean demand is and, and on the other, how limited supply from other countries of origin is.

South American soy supply from the 2019-'20 crop is used up. For this reason, China has repeatedly ordered large amounts from the U.S. since mid-August. New-crop soybeans will not come off the field in Brazil and Argentina until spring 2021.

Another factor is also likely to propel the trade between China and the U.S. The two great powers are in the first phase of the current trade agreement in which China has pledged to purchase a total of $36.5 billion worth of agricultural feedstock from the U.S. in the 2020-'21 crop year.

Yet another factor pushing up soy prices in the past two weeks has been dry sowing conditions in Brazil. This situation could delay sowings and also harvests to the extent that the crop would be available on the global market later than usual. However, soybean prices could come under pressure in the coming weeks as the U.S. harvest proceeds. So far, the harvest has progressed much more quickly than the five-year average.

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