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Roy SmithReal late harvest story

Agriculture.com Staff 11/28/2008 @ 8:48am

Trading is thin in the grain markets the day after Thanksgiving. This often leads to volatility and price moves that are exaggerated. When traders come back the following Monday, it is common to see prices go back to where they were before the holiday. If I had grain to sell and the price was sharply higher today, I would see that as opportunity. If the price was sharply lower, I would take the day off and see what happens on Monday!

One commentator in the Omaha area made the statement that the harvest is exceptionally late this year. He stated that he did not remember another year when the combines were still running on Thanksgiving Day. I guess he was not even born yet when I experienced some of the worst harvest seasons in my career. I consider it a good year when I am not still combining on turkey day.

In 1986 water standing on the Missouri River bottom caused delays that left us finishing on December 26. I hired a neighbor with rice tires on his combine. We transported the corn from field to the road in a grain cart pulled by a souped up John Deere tractor with dual tires. When we finally finished, we were running out of places we could drive that did not have ruts too deep to pull the wagon. The corn was wet that year and the price was low. We ended up selling it for $1.16 after moisture dock.

The absolute latest I ever harvested was 1983. An inch of ice near the end of soybean harvest prevented me from getting the last 30 acres of beans until the following spring. Yields that had been in the 40's in October were 25 in March. Several consecutive days of temperatures that did not get above zero at Christmas time made feeding cattle a nightmare.

The corn hybrids today dry much faster than back in the days when I was a young farmer. In 1972 the wet corn was causing farmers to have problems with not being able to get the grain dry. It was the year I started selling bins and drying equipment. My experience with stirring machines led me to be in much demand for installing equipment in bins that were already almost full of wet corn. Many times there was a layer of corn sprouting on top where I was installing a track and cross auger. I saved a lot of grain for customers that year. I made some money but I do not ever what to do anything so unpleasant again!

I am thankful that I have not had a really late harvest in over ten years. I feel for those North Dakota farmers who still have half of their crop in the field. I am thankful that I have a neighbor who owns a combine who will do my harvest along with his. I am thankful that I was able to enjoy the holiday meal with my family without worrying about the crops still in the field.

Trading is thin in the grain markets the day after Thanksgiving. This often leads to volatility and price moves that are exaggerated. When traders come back the following Monday, it is common to see prices go back to where they were before the holiday. If I had grain to sell and the price was sharply higher today, I would see that as opportunity. If the price was sharply lower, I would take the day off and see what happens on Monday!

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