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Rationed harvest time

Agriculture.com Staff 10/30/2009 @ 4:55pm

I got in my allocated three days of harvest this week in by Wednesday night. The weather man promised another half day on Thursday, but Mother Nature fooled us and started the current rain at 4:00 A.M. Thursday morning. Rain continued all day Thursday. So much for this week's harvest activities!

The operator who does my harvesting decided last weekend to change from soybean harvest to corn, so at least for the three days that we worked we did not have to worry about dew and other dampness. The moisture problem was that the corn is not dry enough to store permanently. I guess we are lucky here in Cass County because at 18%, the corn can be put into bins and kept with good aeration. Under those conditions we should either be able to dry it with air, or at worst, store it temporarily until it can be artificially dried.

On Wednesday, those farmers who combined beans found them to be borderline moisture wise. Between 14 and 15 percent, some loads were accepted and some were not. I know of a few who got some beans harvested, but not many. I hate to harvest corn that is border line and have to watch it all winter. I hate even worse to leave anything standing in the snow, which appears to be the other alternative.

If I read my calendar correctly, Monday is first delivery day for November soybean futures. I never hold futures contracts into delivery. The sharp pull back in prices between October 23 and 28 gave me a reason to simply buy back my hedges and stay exposed to the market. Were it not for the pullback, I would have probably rolled the hedges into the January contract. With the delayed harvest and big potential for bushels to be lost, the risk of not having beans to deliver looks like more than the risk of prices going down. If the market turns and goes down, my decision Wednesday is going to look like the work of a novice marketer. As it is, I took a small loss on the futures hedges. Unless the spell of warm weather predicted for next week is longer than anticipated, the soybean price outlook is still positive.

Thursday's action puts the cash soybean price more than a dollar a bushel over the harvest low on October 5. All of the criteria for a typical "Dead Cat Bounce" have been met. Now sales are a management decision. I have said before that if I had beans already in the elevator, I would consider pricing at least part of them. With weather they way it is, I do not want to risk both inability to deliver and higher prices. Even if the weather improves, it is still a long time before the crops are out of danger.

I got in my allocated three days of harvest this week in by Wednesday night. The weather man promised another half day on Thursday, but Mother Nature fooled us and started the current rain at 4:00 A.M. Thursday morning. Rain continued all day Thursday. So much for this week's harvest activities!

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