Do not panic during Euro debt crisis
Most likely the 2012 corn yield will end up between 145 and 165 bushels per acre. Odds favor a better-than-trendline yield in 2012. And with 95 million acres, we could end with a large crop and lower prices by the fall of 2012.
During one of the early winter Euro debt crises (I count 12 so far), panic went through farm country.
I use a series of rules to put together a master market plan each year, and I try to envision what scenarios are likely to unfold. I look at what could be bullish or bearish for prices in the next one to three months; I also like to look out at prices and scenarios for the next 12 to 24 months.
To be honest, I did not envision the sovereign debt crisis developing in Europe and the large negative impact it would have on the global stock and commodity markets.
I have often said you only have to worry about two things in the commodity markets: the things you can anticipate and the things you cannot anticipate.
This was one of those economic crises that I did not anticipate.
I have also learned that large moves in the grain markets can set up great opportunities for those who are positioned correctly.
The nations in the European economic community take less than 10% of the U.S. farm exports. As their economy has slowed, it has reduced consumer demand for everything from clothes to cars. So far, it has not had a major impact on U.S. farm exports.
This crisis has created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty that I would compare to the grain embargoes in the 1970s and 1980s. A crash in the European economy this year would be the most well-advertised crash that I have lived through.
The attitude is bearish, and farmers are willing sellers on any short-term rally in the grain markets. Many farmers are willing to sell cash crops, 2012 crops, and 2013 crops ahead at the same time. This could be a huge mistake.
So what can turn this around? I look back over the grain markets during the last four decades. I have seen a lot of years when attitudes and prices change dramatically the first week of March.
Trade attention will change from European financial problems to crop conditions in the U.S. by the end of March.
The corn table on this page and the soybean table on the next page show the extremes of what carryout could do this year as you plug in different yield scenarios for 2012.
3 Corn scenarios
Following are three different corn-yield scenarios and what kind of prices could result.
(Note: I am projecting U.S. corn planted acreage at 95 million acres in 2012, which would be up 3.1 million acres from last year. I am using carry-in estimates of 850 million bushels.)