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A market check-up - Ron and Sue Mortensen

08/18/2011 @ 3:37pm

The slow, gradual drift up in corn prices may be encouraging complacency among farmers.  It is hard to get excited about marketing when prices improve a little bit every day.  But there is another weekend coming and there is rain in the forecast.  Now is the time to be alert.

On Sunday night, the first question will be “did it rain?”  Then the weather forecast for the week will be considered.  There will also be concern regarding Europe, due to the extreme amount of economic uncertainty.  Finally, there is a crop tour which starts on Sunday.  This is widely watched and, in the era of smartphones and Twitter, every comment is likely to generate a market reaction.  Random yield tweets will exaggerate market moves.  

What is a farmer to do?  Make a plan for any old crop that is left.  Basis levels in some areas are still tight as the market waits for new-crop supplies.  There are sharp differences between close-by locations, meaning phone calls or checking on-line bids can be a profitable activity.

New crop sales can be a more complicated question.  Given the widespread heat and the current areas of dryness, individual yields need to be considered (have you been out in your fields doing yield checks?). The calendar is approaching that pre-harvest timeframe.  What needs to be accomplished if prices move higher?  What if prices move lower?  And what if rain falls on your farm?          

It’s time to make an easy checklist so there is no question about what needs to happen next week.  Do you have sales made?  Do you have put options purchased?  Do you have plans in place for crop that needs to move to town straight off the combine?

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The risk of loss in trading commodities can be substantial.  You should therefore carefully consider whether such trading is suitable for you in light of your financial situation. 

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