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Once a year

Agriculture.com Staff 06/26/2006 @ 9:26am

For the past three years, my wife Sharon and I have taken a week in June to do volunteer work at a boy’s ranch in southern Missouri. It is a faith-based, but non-denominational, place where troubled boys can get their lives back on track. My contribution this year, as in the past, is to mow hay the boys bale and use to feed the ranch livestock.

After I return my friends always ask if I had a good time. To call mowing hay a good time would be a big stretch of imagination. However, I will admit I enjoy doing farm work where I am under no pressure to get a certain amount done in a given time. There is satisfaction in having a skill that someone appreciates, even though I have mowed hay for fifty years.

I also find it refreshing to see how other people live, especially those in an environment so different from what most middle class farm families are used to. The staff at the ranch does a remarkable job in bringing wayward young men to a point where they are productive members of society.

Mowing hay is much different in the Ozarks than it is here in Nebraska. I never knew that a windrower would eat rocks until I went down there. Of course, as a farmer, I observe crop conditions between here and there. Southwest Missouri is experiencing one of the driest summers on record. Not much grain is grown in that area, but between here and there is some pretty good farmland. Except for the dry area immediately around Kansas City, the crops looked good last week. I did not see the spots that were either extremely wet or extremely dry as I have in previous years.

While we were gone, we had a little rain here in Southeast Nebraska. The total for the week was about an inch at my place. The custom applicator got my soybeans sprayed while I was gone. Crops look good. We will need to keep getting those rains or the subsoil moisture will not last long. The grain markets obviously have lost their concern about dry weather, at least for a while.

Action in both corn and beans should not be a surprise to anyone familiar with the long-term seasonal charts. Both corn and beans show a downtrend starting this week. The actual high came a little earlier than normal this year. That is not a surprise either with the big run-up since the winter low. Nothing says that there cannot be another high caused by weather concerns later. However, action so far has fulfilled the criteria for a weather rally, so that may be all there is this year.

If your marketing plan calls for buying call options to cover earlier sales the time to do that is rapidly approaching. If there is another week of price weakness, call option premiums should get to a level where they will not reduce profit potential too much. When you buy the call will depend on what level of price you want to protect. I don’t necessarily recommend this strategy in all cases, but it has worked for me very well in the past.

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