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Farmer uncertainty churns as poor crop conditions persist

Agriculture.com Staff 06/04/2008 @ 2:55pm

It's been a wet, cool spring and the crops in the ground in many parts of corn country are facing an uphill climb in emergence and early development.

It's a scenario that, combined with a volatile, demand-driven marketplace, some farmers fear could make for big changes in the grain trade. Still, with time remaining to replant those corn acres that need it, and time also remaining to get this year's soybean acres planted, other farmers say it may be early to let doomsday scenarios play out just yet.

Many corn farmers say their crop has suffered enough damage that trendline yields are out of the question for this year. Corn acres from the deep South to the northern Corn Belt have been flooded, making replanting the only option to keep those acres intact.

"My main concern for the crop right now is any area that has gotten flooding rain and areas that won't get planted (or replanted in some cases)," writes Agriculture Online Marketing Talk member John From S. MN.

Those concerns are even worse in southeastern Illinois, where Marketing Talk member Lucky_2 says Mother Nature has laid the foundation this spring for a "corn disaster.

"So, it's June 4, and most of the acres needing replanting are at least a week away with no rain," he writes. "Add a sure bet for more rain and lots of N loss. Some corn was replanted last week but rains since then make it iffy."

Simply replanting is not the only concern. Marketing Talk member gf@armer says the cool, wet weather of late must see a "drastic change" if current crop concerns can be turned around.

"This is critical time for the topsoil to be dry and forcing root growth. We currently have just the opposite," he writes. "I'm thinking you'll see corn quickly turn into the 'ugly stage' due to sidewall smearing and eventually the obvious denitrification issue will become noticeable in a big way."

What will this mean to the trade? With unrelenting demand for all grains right now, below-trend yields could mean a bull ride, says Marketing Talk member Faust100F.

"Forget about 153 [bushel-per-acre] trend yield, start thinking about 140 instead, and $8 corn this fall and next winter. Beans are going to go up to attract more acres," he writes. "Those who contracted grain with elevators or sold grain this winter at what they believed were record prices are going to get burned if they do not raise a crop, or have been getting margin calls. The only safe bet during this period were options where the cost was fixed, but even options will be under water if the U.S. is headed for a poor crop, and that is the way it is beginning to look."

Yet, other farmers say it's too early to count out near-trend yields. A lot of time is left for the heat units to pile up, and in some areas, that's just what will begin happening soon, with forecasted temperatures into the 90s this weekend in some parts of corn country. As a result, some farmers say it may be early to tear the lid off the corn market just yet.

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