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I can tell

Agriculture.com Staff 08/20/2007 @ 7:34am

I figure I can tell a lot about the condition of my crops by looking at the grass in my yard. If the grass is green and growing, my crops are probably doing well also. If the grass is green but not growing, it is a warning sign. If the grass is brown, that tells me that the crops are under stress and rain is needed soon.

For most of the month of July and one week in August, the grass in my yard has been brown and crunchy. By the end of that time, driving down any country road in the area would show that the damage to the corn crop was obvious. The weekend of August 4 and 5 even the soybeans were shrinking and showing that grey color indicating extreme stress.

Rain came on August 6. By the end of that week, the rain total was 3.4 inches. I mowed my lawn on August 9 even though it was difficult to see where I had mowed. Sharon and I left for Ontario for a week the morning of August 10. We extended a trip to speak at a meeting in Stratford for a week to do some tourist activities. We had wanted to see Niagara Falls for several years and this was the chance to do two things on one trip.

As we drove into our yard late the night of Friday, August 17, it was obvious that the rainfall had improved the condition of the yard dramatically. The grass was taller than at any time this summer. Deterioration of the crops stopped dramatically for a couple of weeks. The corn will not be helped much because it is too close to maturity to do anything more than put on test weight.

The soybeans are setting new pods. Those on the river bottom are about a foot taller than the ones in the hills. I calculate that we have had enough rain to last until the middle of this week. If there is no more, the pods will have a lot of beans but they will be small. If we get the rain forecasters predict for this week, yields will be respectable.

The biggest concern now seems to be the effect of the United States economy on all markets. From this week, until the September crop report, there is a strong seasonal trend for soybean futures to go up. I wonder if the wash out last week is setting soybeans up for a better than normal rally, or if this will be one of those years when prices go down rather than up. At this point, there is no way to know.

Farmers in Ontario are suffering from the strengthening of the Canadian dollar to the point where, at its peak, it was almost equal to the US dollar. Last week the Canadian dollar had a big correction that broke an uptrend line on the daily chart. The total drop was approximately four percent. That does not change the value enough to make a big difference in the price of grains. It does indicate that prices can go both directions. At some point, extremes correct themselves. I hope last week is an indication that markets are about to get better for our friends to the north.

I look forward to meeting many of you on Thursday. It will be great time to share ideas and get a good idea of crop size in different areas. If you have requests of what you would like to hear from me, send me an e-mail or post a message on the “Marketing” talk page and I will try to oblige. No requests for predicting grain prices, please!

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