USDA released its Quarterly Stocks report for grain stocks on hand as of September 1. This includes the de-facto 2018-2019 marketing year ending stocks numbers for soybeans (and corn), a figure that came in at 913 mb. This was below the average guess I saw on one poll of 982 mb, as well as below the low guess of 940 mb. Recall that it wasn’t that many months ago, in its August Supply and Demand report, USDA had 2018-2019 soybean ending stocks pegged at 1.07 bb. Why the big change in opinion? First, Q4 demand was solid, as noted in my weekly export shipment chart updates. But there is more to the game than that.

In its Quarterly Stocks report, USDA basically admitted that it’s ending stocks number didn’t compute with what it had been guessing. Therefore, it went back and lowered its “final” production number from last February by 116 mb, from 4.544 bb to 4.428 bb, or 116 mb. Think about that for a moment, all you folks who have questioned my use of “final” (meaning only final until changed) over the years. USDA changed 2018 planted area, harvested area, yield, and production because it’s numbers weren’t adding up almost a year down the road.

Anyway, while the 913 mb was smaller than pre-report estimates, it was also much bigger than anything seen in the United States before (see chart). The figure was more than double the 438 mb reported at the end of the 2017-2018 marketing year, while ending stocks-to-use (red line) jumped to 18.7%. This was 83% larger than the previous year. Given this, in the grand scheme of things, it is still difficult to call the report bullish for soybeans.