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Grains will 'stay nervous'

Jeff Caldwell 03/30/2012 @ 8:02am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

USDA pegged 2012 corn acreage toward the top end of the previous trade estimate range Friday morning. That, taken alone, is bearish. But, add to it the tightest old-crop corn stocks in almost 2 decades, and it's got the market glancing higher, with a lot of weather nerves to start the crop season, especially with talk of a frost that could nip an early-planted crop.

"I think what you're going to see is this market's going to stay nervous throughout the year," says Don Roose, trader and analyst with U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa. "Our margin for error is minimal since we have the tightest old-crop stocks since 1995-96."

Compounding the expected rally on the coattails of Friday's USDA numbers is both the time of year, with early planting already underway in parts of the Corn Belt, as well as the frame of mind of the marketplace leading up to Friday.

"We don't have the acres yet, and we went in on a sell-off," Roose says. "I think this definitely tells you that if we get the yields, we can compensate."

Ultimately, for both corn and soybeans, stocks and projected acreage figures go a ways to fitting together like pieces of a puzzle; corn stocks are lower, but acreage is sky-high, while soybean stocks are larger despite a slightly smaller crop.

"Soybean stocks are bigger, but we don't have the acres. The corn number, though not a shocker, was higher on the acres but with tight old-crop stocks," Roose says. "But, when you're planting 74 million acres of beans and you get 1 more bushel to the acre, that's 74 million bushels. So, that means it's going to be all about the weather from here on."

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