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One week left

Agriculture.com Staff 03/23/2007 @ 7:20am

It is only one week before the government releases its report that has been the focus of much guessing all winter.

I get a kick out of hearing the speculation about what the government will estimate about relative planted acres of the various crops. It probably is the best estimate of what will be planted at this point. However, changes can happen between now and the time the planters roll in the Corn Belt.

For a while in early March, it appeared that the trade had quit worrying about enough corn acres getting planted. Prices dropped. In the past week, the psychology has reversed again and prices are on the rebound. To me the important thing is not how many acres will be planted, but whether the acres match the expectations of everyone in the grain trade.

No doubt grain prices will reflect whether the expectations match reality for a while. My guess is that effect will not last very long and traders will focus on weather and planting progress. This year, at some point, the big factor will become whether construction of ethanol plants is progressing fast enough to increase demand on schedule. If the completion of plants turns out to be slower than expected, the euphoria over grain prices could turn quickly.

Whatever the report shows, we need to remember that what it shows is prospective plantings. Actual will not be known until after the fact. Just as carryover at the end of this marketing year is projected, not actual, the real thing could end up being much different than the estimates.

I had hoped to get put options bought on half of my anticipated production of corn by the middle of March. With the pull-back in prices, I did not get that done. I hope that the better prices continue and I can do it next week before the report.

There have been critical government reports in other years. I don't remember any that have rivaled this one in the attention that has been paid by the public. I normally tape my television show two or three days before a government report. That puts me in the uncomfortable situation of talking about the impact of the news before I see the numbers. Next week, the television people have arranged the production schedule so that I can see the report when it is released, drive to Lincoln, tape the show and have it broadcast yet Friday.

If you can get Nebraska educational television, Market Journal is on those channels at 7:00 A.M. Saturday. It is on Dish Network, channel 9411 at 11:30 A.M. Friday or 9:30 P.M. Sunday. It is also available online at MarketJournal.unl.edu any time.

It is only one week before the government releases its report that has been the focus of much guessing all winter.

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