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Farmers, markets struggle - Ray Grabanski

Ray Grabanski Updated: 05/05/2011 @ 4:36pm President, Progressive Ag www.progressiveag.com

While farmers are struggling to get the crop planted in what is turning out to be one of the latest springs on record, the markets are also struggling to maintain their current high prices.  This is a quandary that one cannot help but notice this spring. 

It's hard to explain how this could be, but the clear indication of the problem is that weather is NOT dominating the market today like it did in past years. Instead, the large amount of speculator trading that has occurred in the past few years is continuing to have a large influence on prices.  Since Goldman Sachs decided that the risk in holding commodities was no longer worth taking, the market has turned soft.  Most surprising, while the market has turned soft on prices, the troubles the US has faced have never been greater.

Corn planting progress stood at an anemic 13% as we ended April this week, one of the slowest planting paces on record for all crops in the US.  HRS wheat planting is faring no better, and in fact virtually all crops in the US are suffering from late planting in 2011.  Not only is the planting progress anemic, but the winter wheat crop continues to struggle under the weight of a huge drought in HRW wheat country.  

Western HRW wheat crops are failing, with the western TX panhandle in the worst shape, followed by the OK panhandle (which received some much needed rains last week, but is still in dire need of more).  The winter wheat crop is struggling mightily. 

Central KS is faring better, and eastern OK/KS actually have had some very decent precip recently, with generous showers compared to the massive drought suffered in the western parts of these states.  KS is much better off than OK, and OK is much better off than TX.  But overall, the crop is in pretty poor shape.

One can't help, though, notice the impact of the 'Goldman sag' in commodities, with silver seeing a sharply lower market this week after pushing to new highs last week.  Silver has dropped about 20% the past 3 days, with some huge losses helping to hold back the rest of the commodities.  

While the grains struggle, it is indeed an unusual sight to see the grains struggle with weak prices, while the planting progress is at the most anemic values we've had in history.  The next few weeks will become critical, and while it does seem that planting may finally be getting close to occurring across the country, we really have our work cut out for us in agriculture over the next month.  For we will need to virtually 

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