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Higher barge rates, harvest taking toll on basis levels

Agriculture.com Staff 10/09/2008 @ 9:43am

Another week of intense selling in grain futures coupled with weaker basis levels meant sharply lower cash prices around the country. For the week, corn basis was off about a penny a bushel on average across the country while soybean basis was down 4 cents for the week.

However, a late harvest continues to pose problems for key end users. Corn basis in Nebraska and Iowa was up as some processors were bidding up basis levels 20 to 30 cents a bushel to cover short-term needs. Both states are running behind the normal harvest pace, with less than 10% of the crop chopped according to USDA. However, areas in the South and especially along the Illinois and Ohio River system saw basis levels tumble. Along with harvest, barge rates in these regions hot up about 15 cents a bushel over the last week.

For soybeans, double-digit losses in basis were commonplace in the South and along the lower-river system. Some areas of the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains have kept basis levels fairly steady even as soybean harvest picks up pace.

Basis levels should continue to come under more pressure as harvest picks up pace. Corn basis should hold fairly firm, but soybean basis will likely be the short-term loser with an abundant crop. Forward carry in the cash market continues to be tight, especially in the Western Cornbelt so locking in positive returns to storage with existing forward contracts may prove challenging.

Another week of intense selling in grain futures coupled with weaker basis levels meant sharply lower cash prices around the country. For the week, corn basis was off about a penny a bushel on average across the country while soybean basis was down 4 cents for the week.

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