(The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a market analyst for Reuters.)

NAPERVILLE, Illinois - Speculators continued selling Chicago-traded soybeans through mid-June as U.S. plantings are set for a substantial rise versus last year and U.S. export demand for the 2024 soy crop is nearly non-existent.

Money managers in the week ended June 18 extended their net short in CBOT soybean futures and options to a seven-week high of 105,970 contracts, their most bearish ever for the week and close to 2017’s all-time net short for the month.

That is according to data published by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Monday, postponed from the normal Friday release due to the Juneteenth holiday.

Funds were net sellers of nearly 92,000 soybean contracts in the three weeks ended June 18, the most for any three-week period since December 2019 and particularly uncommon for June. New gross shorts were responsible for more than 80% of the net selling during that period, and open interest in soy futures and options rose 6%.

CBOT November soybean futures were down 1.7% in the week ended June 18, and although they were virtually unchanged in the subsequent three sessions, they hit a new yearly low of $11.11-1/2 per bushel on Monday.

CBOT December corn also made new yearly lows on Monday of $4.43 but had drifted slightly higher in the week ended June 18. Money managers trimmed their net short in CBOT corn futures and options to 191,462 contracts from 212,279 a week earlier on a mixture of new longs and short covering.

Funds’ relatively large corn net short is also rare for June, second only to 2020 in size, and that likely expanded further through Monday with three-session losses exceeding 3%.

CBOT September wheat marked a three-plus-month low of $5.64-1/4 per bushel on Monday following a 7.4% decline in the week ended June 18. Money managers expanded their net short that week to an eight-week high of 52,732 CBOT wheat futures and options contracts versus 45,116 a week earlier.

Speculators maintain hugely bullish bets on CBOT soybean meal and hugely bearish ones on CBOT soybean oil. Their net short in CBOT oilshare, which measures soyoil’s share of value in the soy products, surpassed 184,000 futures and options contracts as of June 18, the biggest net short since May 2018.


Last week’s hot and dry weather hurt U.S. crops in the eastern Corn Belt while flooding caused issues in the west. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday afternoon rated 69% of U.S. corn as good-to-excellent (GE) and soybeans at 67% GE, and losses were prominent in both the east and the northern Belt, consistent with Crop Watch findings.

Those were both down 3 percentage points on the week, as expected for corn but one point larger for soybeans. However, crop ratings often decline during June.

Corn conditions are down 6 percentage points from the season’s initial rating and soybeans are down 5 points. Identical declines were observed over the same period in 2022, but conditions deteriorated more sharply in both 2021 and 2023, especially for corn.

Additionally, the current 69% GE for corn and 67% GE for soybeans are both the week’s best since 2020, which featured respective scores of 72% and 70%.

U.S. crop weather looks more favorable this week versus last, but traders’ attention will turn to the U.S. stocks and acres report on Friday. Analysts see both U.S. corn and soybean plantings rising slightly from the March survey, but the June survey is known for its surprise potential. Karen Braun is a market analyst for Reuters. Views expressed above are her own.

(Editing by Sonali Paul)