ARTICLES BY ROY SMITH
SoyRoy: Looking Both Ways By: 12/12/2014 @ 3:41pm

Back when I was a child, I remember my parents warning me to “Look both ways before crossing the road.” That was before there were streets in rural Cass County and before the roads had names. Sharon and I…

Soy Roy: Soybeans Exceed Price Expectations By: 12/05/2014 @ 12:07pm

As part of my farming operation and marketing business, I am always looking for factors that will help me estimate which direction prices will go and how far they will move. Most of you know, by now, that I am…

Market Confusion! By: 11/21/2014 @ 6:23am

This week the soybean market is fulfilling one of Murphy’s Laws: “The market will do whatever is necessary to fool the majority.” Cash soybean bids broke above the $1.00 rally level on October 29…

SoyRoy: Take Some Cookies Off of the Table By: 11/14/2014 @ 8:49am

The soybean market continues to surprise the traders who feared the worst in September, as the harvest was just beginning. When faced with a situation I do not understand in the markets, I turn to my…

A Gimme Dead-Cat Bounce By: 11/07/2014 @ 9:25am

In my younger days, I played a little baseball with several farm kids in my community. The effort was organized by two of the players. Consequently, they picked the positions with the most action for…

Up Or Down For The Grains? By: 10/31/2014 @ 12:22pm

This has been a good week for harvest here in Cass County NE. Our soybean harvest was finished two weeks ago.  Since then we have had a good run for corn harvest except for rain a week ago that made the…

SoyRoy: Where Do Soybean Prices Go From Here? By: 10/24/2014 @ 1:26pm

It is easy enough to point to the soybean market since September 26 and say “I told you so.” The fact is that the dead-cat bounce in the soybean market has been one of the best and most predictable moves…

SoyRoy: Harvest and Baseball By: 10/20/2014 @ 7:06am

Those of us who mark our age as more than three score and 10 years remember what we were doing during certain history-making events. In my case, one of those events was the San Francisco earthquake of 1989…

Market's 'Dead Cat Bounce' Still Alive By: 10/10/2014 @ 8:48am

For those of us who watch for the 'dead cat bounce' to sell cash soybeans, the time has come to start counting days and pennies for a signal to start selling. The harvest low is the first indicator…

SoyRoy: Time To Track Basis Prices By: 10/03/2014 @ 2:37pm

The first week of October is, to me, one of the most exciting times of the year. There are several reasons for my attitude about what goes on at this time of year. The growing season is past and there is no…

SoyRoy: It's 'Dead Cat Bounce' Season By: 09/26/2014 @ 12:05pm

Soybean harvest is the time when farmers track prices to take advantage of the move I call the “Dead Cat Bounce”. Over the years, it has proven to be one of the most reliable and useful marketing…

SoyRoy: Cash Soybean Prices Deteriorate By: 09/19/2014 @ 2:15pm

Every day after the markets close, I download the bid sheet from Midwest Farmers Co-op. It is the closest grain market for my farm here in eastern Nebraska. The prices are not usually a surprise because…

SoyRoy: More Selling Off In Soybeans Expected By: 09/12/2014 @ 3:11pm

For most of the summer, I have been pointing out the tendency of the soybean market to rally in August but then break following the September crop report.  In years of high prices, the odds for a break…

Soybean Prices Headed For Harvest Low? By: 09/05/2014 @ 10:12am

Two weeks ago, Sharon and I took eight days of vacation. We traveled to the Washington D.C. area to do some sightseeing and genealogy research.  The day we left, August 20, was also the day for me to roll…

Does Lucky = Good in Grain Marketing? By: 08/15/2014 @ 10:04am

My original marketing plan for the 2014 crop of soybeans called for an increment to be sold after planting was finished and the crop got off to a good start. Planting went fast, but unfortunately, not under…

SoyRoy: Historic Events By: 08/08/2014 @ 3:24pm

I call the time period that the soybean market is currently in the “Frost Scare Rally”. A more appropriate name might be “weather problem high” because the common cause might be dry weather or late…

SoyRoy: Sell Soybeans Before September Report By: 07/25/2014 @ 11:02am

The long-term soybean futures charts show a sharp drop after the July 4 weekend. This usually ends sometime in the middle of July as the market gets oversold. It is normally accompanied by production problems…

Who Is the Market Punishing? By: 07/18/2014 @ 3:21pm

One of my favorite sayings from the “Murphy’s Laws” poster states, “The market punishes those who make mistakes." To those individuals who have never been challenged to make a marketing decision, this…

SoyRoy: The Charts Look Their Worst in 40 Years By: 07/11/2014 @ 11:45am

When discussing grain marketing strategies, one of the topics that usually comes up is risk. Specifically, we like to use the term risk premium when considering the practice of forward contracting grain that…

SoyRoy: Reaction to June 30 Report By: 07/03/2014 @ 1:14pm

The June 30 government report is now history. All that is left is to digest the numbers and trends and make plans for the rest of the growing season.  Looking back at recent market action shows the…

SoyRoy: Marketing Mistakes Can Happen By: 06/30/2014 @ 7:40am

Regular readers of this column know that I test my seasonal theories by trading a small speculative account in the soybean market. I use futures to give me a realistic test of how accurate the seasonal price…

Markets See June As Crop-Critical Timeframe By: 06/20/2014 @ 11:13am

The third week of June is normally a critical time in the grain markets. The long term seasonal charts show that it is common to have a price peak during that week. Normally, we would be thinking that a price…

SoyRoy: July 4 Grain Ownership Not Recommended By: 06/15/2014 @ 8:19am

One of the first things I learned about marketing when I began farming in the 1960’s was that good growing conditions bring low grain prices. Sometimes bad growing conditions also bring low grain prices! As…

No Weather Rally Guarantee This Year -- Soy Roy By: 06/09/2014 @ 9:30am

This has been a tough week in a lot of ways. Weather has been such that most of the crops got planted in a relatively orderly manner here in Cass County. The earliest planted corn was tall enough that it got…

SoyRoy: Grain Perspective Needed By: 05/30/2014 @ 2:00pm

From time to time, I find it helpful to look back at grain prices to compare the current levels to what has happened at some earlier time. That is especially the case in markets such as exist now. It seems as…

Planting Season Can Be Stressful By: 05/23/2014 @ 12:02pm

The planting season is pretty much finished here in Cass County, Nebraska. The season started the early part of April under very dry conditions. Progress was rapid with few days out of the fields because of…

SoyRoy: Miss May 8 Rally, Eye the 29th By: 05/16/2014 @ 10:33am

One of the things I have learned from 40 years of studying markets is that important events take place when farmers are most busy. That was certainly the case the past two weeks. I finished planting corn on…

Weather Market Rules By: 05/05/2014 @ 7:22am

Most farmers who've been farming for very long remember examples of when the market prices were moved by weather problems. In 2014 some of the move was caused by cold weather in Northern growing areas…

Planting Time - Now What For the Markets? By: 04/25/2014 @ 1:19pm

The long-term seasonal charts show that the best odds for hitting good prices in the grain markets are during the period between April 1 and July 4. We are now in that time period. So far this year, the…

Soy Roy: Rally Ends When Barber Asks About It By: 04/17/2014 @ 2:58pm

Yesterday, I had a phone call from an individual I hear from about once a year. His occupation is remotely connected to the markets. His interest is the equity markets, not commodity futures. He asked a very…

Soy Roy: Fieldwork weather has broken By: 04/11/2014 @ 1:35pm

The weather has finally given farmers here in eastern Nebraska a few days of warm weather, after a winter that produced more than 20 days of below zero chill. While the calendar turned from winter to spring…

Soy Roy: Another Winning Spec Trade By: 04/04/2014 @ 9:48am

Most of my readers are probably aware that I test my seasonal strategies by speculating with a small position in the futures market. I buy and go long when the long-term charts show an uptrend. I sell and go…

Soy Roy: What's Next for Farming? By: 03/28/2014 @ 8:17am

Three weeks ago, I came home from Commodity Classic in San Antonio all fired up about the future of farming. The trade show was the largest in the history of that event and full of new and innovative…

Soy Roy: Risk Premiums? By: 03/21/2014 @ 12:04pm

One of the first terms a student of marketing learns is risk premium. The term risk takes on all sorts of meanings depending on the context in which it is used. When the Iowa casinos opened several years ago…

Crop Insurance Decision Time By: 03/14/2014 @ 12:23pm

The biggest decision to be made this weekend is not when and how much to sell but what crop insurance coverage to sign up for and how much. I have always been conservative when making crop insurance decisions…

Technicals signaled latest rally By: 03/07/2014 @ 2:29pm

I am not an expert on using technical signals for trading commodities. As an old saying put it, I probably know just enough to be dangerous. I am familiar with some of the less complex technical signals as…

Personalities and marketing By: 02/14/2014 @ 2:14pm

This week, I will be attending the annual “Women in Agriculture” conference sponsored by the University of Nebraska. Last year, the event took place in the middle of one of the worst blizzards in…

With markets, timing is everything By: 02/07/2014 @ 2:41pm

There is an old saying that the success of a rain dance has everything to do with timing. Meaning that if you start the rain dance just as the rain begins, you can be pretty well guaranteed that some rain will…

Controlling input costs can be risky By: 01/24/2014 @ 9:05pm

I did the first of this year’s Marketing in a New Era (MINE) workshops Wednesday of this week. My partner was Roger Wilson from the University of Nebraska. Roger is a specialist in crop budgets. He did the…

South America and world soybean prices By: 01/17/2014 @ 5:26pm

Since the release of the Government crop report a couple weeks ago, the direction of prices for both soybeans and corn has been mostly higher. A look at the long term charts for both grains shows good odds for…

USDA offers a surprise By: 01/10/2014 @ 3:16pm

A group of farmers has been meeting at Mom’s Café in Plattsmouth, Nebraska on the first Friday of every month since January 1986. The meeting has been cancelled only one time, prior to this week. In that…

Seasonal triggers add value to marketing plan By: 01/03/2014 @ 8:06am

I first started studying seasonal price trends in the grain markets thirty years ago. Often, I was asked by farmers at marketing meetings if there was a danger that the strategies I was proposing would become…

Soy Roy: Looking back By: 12/27/2013 @ 2:10pm

By way of review of this year’s marketing success, I normally track price for the dead-cat bounce in the soybean market beginning in early September and ending on December 31. Looking back at where 2013…

Big news: local basis By: 12/20/2013 @ 4:14pm

The highlight of my week was attendance at the Nebraska  Soybean Expo and trade show held each year at the fairgrounds in Wahoo. I remember one of the first of these shows back in the 1990s when I was the…

Weakening bean basis is another sign By: 12/13/2013 @ 4:12pm

For several days I have been warning that weakening of the basis is a sign that demand for soybeans is getting weaker. That in turn forecasts a drop in the price of cash beans.  This week a second factor…

Watch basis for 'dead cat' drop By: 12/06/2013 @ 3:44pm

Basis is one of the most important factors in judging when a dead cat bounce might turn and go down. I watch basis every day to try to detect the turn as early as possible. My local elevator began using the…

To sell or not to sell By: 11/23/2013 @ 12:35pm

Comments on this week’s actions in the soybean market are pretty straight forward and easy to understand.  In October, November and December, I watch closely for moves in the soybean market that I call…

Exciting market not always good By: 11/15/2013 @ 4:24pm

The soybean market was exciting last week. Boring would have suited most of us a lot better. Reaction to last week’s government report was gratifying. It was also unexpected given that most farmers and…

Markets "fool the majority" By: 11/08/2013 @ 2:39pm

One of my favorite Murphy’s Laws says, “The market will do whatever is necessary to fool the majority."That saying seems to be appropriate for Friday’s release of the government report. It seemed as if…

Dead-cat bounce rises late By: 11/06/2013 @ 12:56pm

In marketing, there are few things that can be described as “always” or “never.” In my years of grain marketing research, the move I long ago named the dead-cat bounce comes closer to the standard of…

Trick-or-treat market By: 11/01/2013 @ 2:56pm

I realize it is 264 days until Halloween. However, after this week’s soybean market action, I feel as if I have been the victim of a nasty Halloween treatment by the soybean market ghouls. I have been…

Bean market bull spreading By: 10/25/2013 @ 12:03pm

It is not what you think! It is not what goes on at the farmers’ table at Mom's Café on Friday mornings. In the simplest explanation, it means a bigger rally in the nearby contract (such as November)…

Bigger dead cat bounce expected By: 10/18/2013 @ 10:03am

For those of us watching the 'dead cat bounce' for a clue as to when to sell, it has been a crazy world the past couple of weeks. If you are confused by market action, do not feel alone. The…

Dead-cat bounce watch is on By: 10/14/2013 @ 1:28pm

Price action, since October 1, was a good start on the way to generating a sell signal on the dead-cat bounce for pricing soybeans. The harvest low, October 1, appeared to be right on time.  The average…

Marketing now: Time to watch and count By: 10/04/2013 @ 9:14am

In last week’s column I laid out the parameters farmers can use to time sales based on the dead-cat bounce. I track prices beginning on September 1. However, the harvest low on which the bounce is timed does…

It's dead-cat bounce season By: 09/30/2013 @ 9:48am

The season for the dead-cat bounce strategy, in the soybean market, is upon us. The most likely time for this strategy to begin is the first half of October. There is no guarantee, of course. In the last…

Never let them forget! By: 09/20/2013 @ 3:33pm

Whenever I hear a clever saying about marketing, I save it for future use in columns or radio shows. One of those archived bits of wisdom has to do with those of us who try to predict grain prices. It says…

Analyst eyes harvest market psychology By: 09/15/2013 @ 3:51pm

There was a lot to watch this week on the Smith farm, as well as in the grain markets. There was finally a rain of almost an inch on Wednesday. The corn crop is too close to maturity to benefit from the…

Markets enter harvest-low zone By: 09/06/2013 @ 2:35pm

This is a busy time at the Smith farm. I am preoccupied with getting ready for harvest. That is still a couple of weeks in the future. The soybeans have just started to turn color. Corn is not yet into black…

My Experiment With CSP By: 09/03/2013 @ 11:06am

A government program that was started four years ago is called CSP, short for Conservation Stewardship Program. It is implemented and administered by the local USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service…

Time to take 'cookies' in the beans? By: 08/23/2013 @ 2:19pm

My column was missing last week because Sharon and I spent a week of vacation in Colorado. The Front Range has been one of our favorite destinations since I was stationed at Ft. Carson in the 1960’s. We were…

SoyRoy: Sell something soon By: 08/10/2013 @ 8:53am

Those of us raised on farms commonly refer to August and early September as the dog days. I have never exactly understood why this part of the year has been given that name. This week I have been dog-sitting…

Long-term charts support a rally By: 08/03/2013 @ 7:16am

Last week, I discussed the market action I referred to as a crash. Apparently the market is not ready to correct that situation because at least new-crop bids continue on their downward spiral. Logical…

SoyRoy: The cash crash By: 07/26/2013 @ 3:15pm

In the early versions of “Winning the Game” marketing education courses sales were allowed at regular intervals throughout the marketing year. At each interval, current charts were shown and a news clip…

Why did God make analysts? By: 07/19/2013 @ 5:17pm

With the price and weather extremes this year I find it difficult to say something concrete that will not sound silly by the time of the next big market move. Long-term seasonal charts show July to…

A July soybean rally By: 07/12/2013 @ 10:00am

One of the main theories behind my long term seasonal marketing approach is that the July 4 period is pivotal to the direction of soybean and corn markets. If you have been reading my columns for any length of…

Pivotal time in the markets By: 06/28/2013 @ 3:35pm

The July 4 weekend is one of those important times in the marketing year for soybeans and corn that I call drop dead dates. It is a time when I take action in the markets regardless of the fundamentals or what…

The spreads know, SoyRoy says By: 06/23/2013 @ 9:40pm

One of the things we have tried to teach in the workshops sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Board is that the spreads between the various contract months can be an indicator as to the future direction of…

Planting progress impact fades By: 06/14/2013 @ 12:07pm

The planting progress report released Wednesday, and the trade reaction to it, reinforces my theory that delayed planting and excess moisture conditions seldom produce lasting positive action in the grain…

It's a selling opportunity By: 06/03/2013 @ 9:19am

After suffering through one of the hottest, driest summers in history, who can blame farmers for being afraid of another summer of drought. The fear was compounded by an almost total lack of moisture recharge…

Market craziness rules By: 05/23/2013 @ 4:52pm

I watch the cash basis and spreads between the contract months for hints of future price direction. For the past several months, both the spreads and basis have been indicating higher prices ahead. Nearby…

Farming and marketing in retirement By: 05/17/2013 @ 12:32pm

When I became eligible for Social Security, in 2004, I made the decision to continue to farm the land Sharon and I owned or had interest in. This meant giving up several rented farms and liquidating all of the…

Seasonal signals panning out this year - Roy Smith By: 05/10/2013 @ 3:03pm

I keep a record of futures prices for corn and soybeans in a format that lets me graph the movement of prices over a number of years. For long-term analysis I use an average of the last 30 years to determine…

Marketing with May snowfall By: 05/03/2013 @ 11:13am

Most of the time, breaking records is viewed as a positive event. That is not necessarily the case when it comes to the weather. In 2011, my area endured record flooding on the Missouri River. In 2012, the…

Unusual year? By: 04/19/2013 @ 2:11pm

Almost every year there is something unusual about growing conditions or markets. In 2011 the problem was flooding in much of the Missouri River drainage area. Last year it was one of the worst droughts in…

Rain arrives By: 04/13/2013 @ 10:31am

It finally rained enough to count, here in Cass County, NE. We have been having small rains off-and-on all spring. Until now, the amounts have been only enough to get the topsoil moist for a few days. I know…

2013 price excitement not over By: 04/05/2013 @ 7:50am

I remember the trip well. I should have learned something from my experience. It was late June of 2008. Sharon had a conference in Milwaukee. Having been to that city only once before in my life, I thought it…

A weather pattern trend? By: 03/22/2013 @ 4:16pm

On the 10 p.m. news last night, the meteorologist noted that the all-time record low for the date was set in 1974 at 1 degree above zero. That comment set in motion my thinking about weather extremes that I…

A game of 'chicken' for corn, soybeans By: 03/15/2013 @ 1:20pm

It seems as if the corn and soybean markets are on separate tracks. There are days when one grain is higher the other is lower and vice versa.  Market commentators say that this is being caused by…

Forward pricing: The Great Debate By: 03/08/2013 @ 3:53pm

I did not post a column last week. I attended the Commodity Classic in Orlando, Florida. The attendance at that event was around 6,500.  The size of the event has increased steadily since the first…

'John Deere Low' returns to the grains? By: 02/15/2013 @ 3:08pm

When I began studying grain market seasonal price moves back in the 1980’s, one of the first things I discovered was what I then called the “John Deere Low”. The theory was that farmers sold grain in…

Never sell soybeans in February? By: 02/08/2013 @ 3:00pm

One of the marketing principles I have promoted over the years is to never sell soybeans in February. It is based on another bias of mine developed over the years, “Nothing good happens in February."While I…

Stock market logic By: 02/01/2013 @ 1:19pm

I have a small retirement account in a brokerage firm in my hometown. My portfolio is weighed heavily in common stocks. Naturally, some of my investment is in agricultural firms. I own shares of a large…

Trust the charts By: 01/17/2013 @ 4:51pm

There are supposedly two kinds of market analysts, fundamental and technical. Fundamental analysts evaluate supply and demand and base their actions on the conclusion drawn from that analysis. Technical…

Roy Smith: Show the USDA data By: 01/10/2013 @ 10:21pm

Most of the attention this week has been on the January government report. Unfortunately, this column is being written before the report is released. It seems as if everyone has an opinion about what the…

Looking back & looking ahead By: 01/04/2013 @ 2:22pm

The first week of January is a good time to take stock on the success or failures of the previous year and finalize plans for the coming growing season. To say that 2012 was an unusual year would be a gross…

Waiting for new year, new prices By: 12/28/2012 @ 1:47pm

I find it difficult to have something profound to say during this two- or three-week period. I expect the soybean market to make a high and turn down, if it has not already done that in November or early…

Happy holidays, watch basis levels By: 12/21/2012 @ 11:23am

It is holiday time. It is not just the weather that has taken a turn for the worse. Grain markets are doing what is typical for this time of year. After an impressive second dead cat bounce, the middle of this…

Farmers to pay for toxin tests By: 12/14/2012 @ 10:31am

I stopped in at the local co-op yesterday afternoon to check on billing for fertilizer applied last week. I got quite a shock from the manager. He informed me that as of yesterday it was going to be their…

Second 'bean bounce' happened By: 12/07/2012 @ 2:26pm

I usually go back a couple of weeks to see what I wrote about prior to composing a column for the current week. Sometimes I will be right on the money comparing recent price action to my comments from earlier…

A second bounce for soybeans? By: 12/03/2012 @ 11:23am

The soybean market had a nice rally from October 16 through October 24. The cash price failed to reach the dollar a bushel rally off the low that was my target for selling cash beans. From October 24 through…

Tough times in the bean market By: 11/16/2012 @ 3:58pm

One of the advantages to having a lot of years of market watching experience is that seldom does anything happen that as not been seen before. Price action in the soybean market this week caused me to reflect…

Is dead-cat bounce still relevant? By: 11/16/2012 @ 2:34pm

Since the early 1980s, the marketing move called the dead-cat bounce has become a favorite marketing strategy for soybean farmers. There are several reasons for its popularity. It calls for selling cash…

Drought has a long tail By: 11/16/2012 @ 1:40pm

Dealing with growing a drought-reduced crop is tough enough, especially when dry weather is as widespread and severe as in 2012. Adding to the stress of seeing a crop suffer is the difficulty of knowing how to…

An unusual year for marketers By: 11/09/2012 @ 1:56pm

I sit here at my desk pondering the latest government report and the grain market’s reaction to it. My first thought is that 2012 is certainly an unusual year. I think back to some of the events that got us…

Important date for farmers By: 11/02/2012 @ 9:15am

November 1 is an important date for two reasons. It is the date when farmers who have purchased crop insurance learn what the harvest time price guarantee will be for those bushels under their level of yield…

Rare opportunity in the beans - Roy Smith By: 10/26/2012 @ 2:35pm

In looking at the soybean futures markets, a condition that rarely happens has developed. November and January soybean futures are higher than the deferred May and July futures. Under normal conditions, a…

Charts show higher price trends By: 10/19/2012 @ 4:14pm

By now, most readers are probably aware that I test my seasonal strategies by trading a small speculative account. The strategy used is very simple. When the long term seasonal charts show that the soybean…

Selling beans on the bounce By: 10/12/2012 @ 10:37am

Judging from my phone calls and e-mails there are a lot of farmers like me who plan to use the "dead cat bounce" to trigger further sales of 2012 soybeans. In my case it was more a fear of drought reduced…

Is it 'dead cat bounce' time? By: 10/05/2012 @ 7:36am

Action in the soybean market, on Thursday, proved that prices could go both directions. Positive numbers in the cash market could be the first indication that the 'dead cat bounce' is under way…

What a marketing year! By: 09/28/2012 @ 2:08pm

Some days it is difficult to find anything interesting to write about. This is not one of those days. The challenge is in deciding what to leave out. To say that 2012 has been interesting would qualify as the…

Roy Smith: Told you! By: 09/21/2012 @ 7:53pm

My column two weeks ago on September 7 featured comments on the strategy of making soybean sales the day before the September crop report. Over the years I have watched price action around the report which was…

It rained, finally! By: 09/14/2012 @ 9:59am

It rained at my farm Wednesday night. It was not one of those windshield dampening showers. It was a real rain, coming hard and lasting for several hours. The total amount when it was all over was 2.10 inches…

Talk of the town: yields! By: 09/07/2012 @ 1:33pm

One of the joys of living and working in small town America is that most towns, no matter how small, have a festival some time during the year. My home town of Plattsmouth Nebraska is especially proud of…

The 'good' of a drought By: 08/24/2012 @ 10:35am

The good side of a drought is that I do not have to spend a lot of time mowing my lawn or grass in turn rows and waterways. That gives me time to do odds jobs that are easy to put off when crops are good. This…

Options are an option By: 08/17/2012 @ 3:16pm

Scouting fields this week, again, proved to be a frustrating experience. The corn is drying at a record pace. Most fields that were planted at normal time are dry enough to harvest with very little need of…

What's ahead-Roy Smith By: 08/10/2012 @ 3:30pm

It seems that the market is full of surprises, even when fundamental factors should already be bid into the current price. Wednesday’s soybean market is a good example. A brief thunderstorm hit my farm…

Long wait for rain - Roy Smith By: 08/03/2012 @ 2:52pm

My column was missing last week, because my family was on vacation in the Branson, Missouri area. It was the first time all ten of us have vacationed together. What a refreshing time it was. I wish I could…

The good thing about drought By: 07/20/2012 @ 8:57am

An old timer who had survived the drought in the 1930’s once told me jokingly that the good thing about a drought is that it always ends with a good rain. While that is surely the case by the definition of…

Marketing in drought years - Roy Smith By: 07/13/2012 @ 2:56pm

I get calls wondering how to deal with the current weather situation. Marketing under normal circumstances is tough. Making good decisions when there is the probability of reduced production is even more…

A machinery mystery solved By: 07/06/2012 @ 2:06pm

In a recent column Machinery Pete questioned why farmers in their 70’s and 80’s are bidding up the price of small, used machinery. To him it seemed that buying machinery that is small and out dated at…

Droughty crops hard to market By: 06/29/2012 @ 12:49pm

In my 44 years of farming in non-irrigated Nebraska, I have experienced a lot of dry weather markets. Dealing with drought is never easy. Results of dry weather depend heavily on where the farm is located. For…

Did the summer weather rally occur? By: 06/22/2012 @ 6:57am

It rained in Cass County, Nebraska this week. At my farm, it was only a half-of-an-inch. Nonetheless, it is better than nothing. That is the third rain in a little over a week. The total is 3.8 inches. That is…

Rain event unsatisfying By: 06/15/2012 @ 3:21pm

We had two inches of rain last night, at my farm. Previously, there had been 1.50-inches of rain Sunday night. That rain was obviously welcome. But, it covered a very small area and resulted in almost nothing…

Don't bet on the weather - Roy Smith By: 06/08/2012 @ 2:49pm

In April I wrote a column entitled “Weather Woes." This column could easily be version 2 of that piece. I live and farm in a part of the grain belt where it does not rain every time the crops need…

Risk premium can fade fast By: 05/25/2012 @ 1:06pm

It is easy to make a case for the highest price of the new crop year to come in the April through June time period. That principle is true for both corn and soybeans. That phenomenon can be observed by…

'Experts' leave farmers holding the bag - Roy Smith By: 05/18/2012 @ 3:24pm

Again last week the grain markets were pummeled by outside financial markets that have almost nothing to do with agriculture. J.P. Morgan Chase, a large financial house, was apparently caught on the wrong…

May sales look good at harvest By: 05/11/2012 @ 6:46am

This is one of those weeks when I would like to concentrate on field work and forget the markets. I finally got a full day of planting in yesterday. Prior to that, planting amounted to bits and pieces between…

Know when to sell - Roy Smith By: 05/04/2012 @ 1:48pm

After a big run-up in prices such as has been the case in recent months in the soybean market, the logical question is “How do I know when to pull the trigger”? It should be so simple. Set a price and put…

Planting with markets in mind By: 04/26/2012 @ 4:32pm

I finished planting corn on Wednesday of this week. That is not a big accomplishment for someone with only a little over 100 acres. I started planting earlier than ever because the machinery was ready to go…

Watching cash basis habits By: 04/20/2012 @ 2:05pm

One of the keys to making good marketing moves is to follow clues given by cash basis. Having a good basis normally is a sign of good demand. It also should be a sign of good cash price outlook. Sometimes…

Sell signals in soybean market? By: 04/13/2012 @ 9:52am

I own a few common stocks in my IRA account. The brokerage firm that handles my investments occasionally sends me an e-mail. I got one of those messages on Wednesday. It starts by making a recommendation to…

Plan for an average crop season By: 04/06/2012 @ 12:47pm

I remember it well. There was a terrible blizzard. It snowed enough that some of the immediate family did not make it to the funeral for my neighbor. We wondered if the weather would ever return to normal…

Murphy's Laws at work By: 03/30/2012 @ 6:41pm

The response to today’s government report illustrates some of My Murphy’s Laws for Commodity Traders. The first is “Be right; sit tight”. For those holding cash soybeans in storage or who are long…

Positive signs for corn - Roy Smith By: 03/23/2012 @ 3:29pm

Now that the calendar has passed February and the season has turned to spring, it is time to look for opportunities to market the remaining corn from the 2012 crop. My old principal of never selling soybeans…

It's time for high prices By: 03/17/2012 @ 11:19am

The cash soybean market has had a nice run since the harvest low last fall. I have had a lot of questions from farmers wondering why soybean prices have gone so high recently. There definitely are some…

Classic is over, time to market crops By: 03/09/2012 @ 6:53am

My column was missing last week because I was at Commodity Classic in Nashville. I began attending this meeting when it was called Soybean Expo and held in New Orleans in August 1980. Since that time I have…

February price seasonals fade - Roy Smith By: 02/24/2012 @ 4:15pm

There are only five more days in February. Most of us in the Midwest are probably happy to see this month pass. I have some friends that go so far as to move to Arizona for the winter. I am not that anxious…

Playing marketing games By: 02/16/2012 @ 3:27pm

When this week is over, the University of Nebraska teaching team will have completed four of the marketing workshops we named “Marketing in a New Era”.  I was on the team for two of the meetings, at…

Costly inputs require max production By: 02/10/2012 @ 2:12pm

In the “Marketing in a New Era” workshops this year, I go into detail about the five steps I see as necessary when a farmer is putting together marketing plans for the coming year. The first of these steps…

Valid seasonal price patterns By: 02/03/2012 @ 7:10am

The first of a series of meetings entitled “Marketing In a New Era” was held in Geneva, Nebraska, on Wednesday of this week. It is based on a similar computer simulation game similar to the original…

A February peak for corn price? By: 01/27/2012 @ 11:09am

My last class in statistics was in the summer of 1967. That was 44 years ago. Most of what I know and use is based on some very general principles I learned back then. For instance, I know that sample size is…

Develop your seasonal strategy By: 01/20/2012 @ 10:42am

Some of my readers call me an analyst. Others have less complimentary words to describe what I do. I personally prefer to be called a strategist. Supply and demand numbers confuse me. More often than not, they…

Weather rally rules By: 01/06/2012 @ 11:58am

This is the time of year when the grain markets are likely to be flat. Harvest is over and the next crop is only in the planning stages. Those factors were relevant years ago. That is not the case…

Looking way back on prices - Roy Smith By: 12/30/2011 @ 11:10am

Every year I update my long-term seasonal charts to reflect the most recent price changes. Until this year, I always charted December corn futures and November soybean futures going back to 1980. For…

Defying farm market odds By: 12/10/2011 @ 7:39am

This week, I have been busy updating my seasonal price charts in preparation for my first marketing meeting on December 13 at Friend Nebraska. I keep charts of the cash grain bids at my local elevator…

Dead cat bounce continues By: 12/02/2011 @ 2:11pm

Being a retired farmer, I should be looking at the calendar and relaxing a bit now that the  2011 harvest is in the bin and fall field work pretty much all done. Being a no-till operator, my post…

Hedging + Spec'ing=Quandry By: 11/18/2011 @ 12:49pm

Those of you who have been reading my column for a long time know that I trade a small speculative account to test my seasonal strategy theories with real dollars. My system uses calendar dates to make trades…

Push, pull corn markets By: 11/11/2011 @ 3:36pm

I hate it when market analysts give both the bullish side of price outlook and the bearish side. Most farmers can understand that there are two sides to almost every situation. However, there is no way of…

Third party risk rears its head By: 11/04/2011 @ 3:29pm

In the yearly 1980’s, I became the client of a young broker who was with a major multi-national trading firm. He and I hit it off well so I continued to use his services for hedging and later on an…

Soybean harvest: The count goes on By: 10/28/2011 @ 2:55pm

Soybean harvest is mostly finished here in Cass County. Corn harvest is winding down and some are about done. My small acreage has been done for over a week. This early harvest probably accounts for some of…

The basis movement is on By: 10/21/2011 @ 6:27am

Soybean harvest is about over in Cass County, Nebraska. Yields range from the low 40’s to the mid 60’s.  The wide range of yields will make for interesting coffee shop talk this winter. Personally, I…

Is it 'dead cat bounce' time? By: 10/14/2011 @ 7:55am

With the drop of $3.25 per bushel in the cash soybean market during the month of September, farmers are understandably watching the markets very closely to detect any sign of a rebound. Most hope they will get…

Don't be impatient! By: 10/07/2011 @ 1:56pm

After watching soybean prices drop two dollars and a half in a month, farmers are understandably anxious for a rebound. I had several calls this week asking if the harvest low is in. Surprisingly, most were…

Roy Smith-Is this it? By: 09/30/2011 @ 10:36am

This is the time during the marketing year when farmers start watching prices for the selling tool I call “The Dead Cat Bounce”. Key to the success of this tool for timing sales is the harvest low on the…

Wish I'd been wrong about the beans By: 09/23/2011 @ 3:34pm

For the past two weeks I have discussed how the day before the September crop report has traditionally been a good time to sell soybeans. This is one time when I wish I had been wrong. Market action since…

Tough decision on selling soybeans By: 09/23/2011 @ 10:46am

For the past two weeks I have discussed how the day before the September crop report has traditionally been a good time to sell soybeans. This is one time when I wish I had been wrong. Market action since…

Amazing price action By: 09/16/2011 @ 12:50pm

Price action the last two months in the soybean futures market is one of the best examples in recent memory of how the long term seasonal price charts work. In a typical year, there is a seasonal low the last…

Don't be surprised -Roy Smith By: 09/09/2011 @ 1:10pm

The much awaited government crop report will be released at 7:30 am Monday.  Because of the importance of harvesting a big crop this year, this report has been anticipated more than most crop reports. My…

Keeping a good market down By: 09/02/2011 @ 1:50pm

Somewhere in an earlier life I was exposed to the phrase “You can’t keep a good man down”.  I am not sure where it came from, but it seems as if it could apply to the current soybean and corn…

Basis game By: 08/26/2011 @ 3:23pm

As harvest approaches grain marketing has turned into a basis game. Futures markets have held together very well in the face of approaching harvest. New crop soybean futures have made their fifth challenge of…

Right or wrong? -- Roy Smith By: 08/12/2011 @ 4:05pm

I wrote last week’s column after what I thought was a volatile market in grain futures. There were several things I had on my mind that I thought would provoke reaction from my readers. In fact so far all of…

The debt crisis out on the farm - Roy Smith By: 08/05/2011 @ 1:19pm

Here we are already in August. Unless you irrigate you should be ready to relax a bit and enjoy being a farmer. It seems as if it does not work that way most years. Something always comes up to generate…

A sure market signal? -Roy Smith By: 07/29/2011 @ 1:22pm

Today is the last trading day of July. Many years of watching markets leads me to the conclusion that not much good happens in August. In many years, the soybean market puts in a minor low the last week of…

Sell rallies, or no?-Roy Smith By: 07/22/2011 @ 12:47pm

The weather rally is the most widely known of the seasonal moves in the soybean and corn markets. There is also probably no time when it is more difficult to make good selling decisions.  Anyone who has…

Strong basis a rare bird By: 07/15/2011 @ 1:31pm

Eastern Nebraska is home to two endangered species, the Least Tern and Piping Plover. These birds nest on the sand bars of the Platte and Missouri Rivers. Whenever there is a flooding problem, the talk quickly…

Surprise! A rebound-Roy Smith By: 07/08/2011 @ 7:02am

Last week, I discussed the bearish crop report and the possible affects on grain prices. I warned that there was a good possibility of a 50 percent retracement of the move down some time before harvest. Little…

Farmers stuck with report-Roy Smith By: 07/01/2011 @ 1:47pm

The crop report that was released Thursday was a real shocker. Stocks and planted acres of the three major grains all were bearish when the results were known. In these reports, the final numbers are not as…

Market fireworks after July 4th -Roy Smith By: 06/24/2011 @ 1:52pm

One of the long time marketing principals I discuss in my marketing workshops is the importance of the Fourth of July weekend in the grain markets.  In many instances, this holiday seems to be a pivotal…

Don't look down-Roy Smith By: 06/17/2011 @ 7:06am

The other day I saw an interview with an individual who was about to participate in a celebrity circus. His act was to walk the tight wire. When asked how he could take part in such a risky venture, he said…

Roy Smith-Golden years, prices By: 06/10/2011 @ 1:52pm

The first full week of June has traditionally been a busy time on the Smith farm. In my days of being a full time farmer from 1969 to 2003, I was sometimes still planting soybeans when June 10 rolled around. A…

Soy sales theory intact-Roy Smith By: 06/03/2011 @ 9:49am

One of the principles I try to teach at my winter marketing meetings is to never sell soybeans in February. I base this on the research showing that the high price of the year never comes in February. I have…

Remembering Memorial Day-Roy Smith By: 05/27/2011 @ 10:50pm

The Memorial Day weekend is anything but a relaxing holiday at the Smith Farm. That has been the case since I started farming full time in 1969. Until I partially retired in 2004, I was planting soybeans over…

Roy Smith: Still looking By: 05/23/2011 @ 9:16am

I titled my column for last week “Looking for Clues” to the future direction of the grain markets. I think I could call this week’s title “Still Looking”. Markets do not seem to be any more certain…

Roy Smith: Managing basis By: 05/13/2011 @ 12:09pm

This is the time of year when markets are historically very active. The seeds for the upcoming crop are just being planted, so there is a world of production risk still ahead.  This year, the production…

Market procrastination can cost you-Roy Smith By: 05/06/2011 @ 6:44am

Some days I find it difficult to find something to write about. Not so today! The problem this week is in knowing what to leave out. I will start out with the simple stuff. I finished planting corn Wednesday…

Spring weather pricing fading? By: 04/29/2011 @ 1:44pm

In the original version of Winning the Game we use comments from the commodity page of the Wall Street Journal as one of the factors that farmers could use when making out their marketing plan for pre- harvest…

Roy Smith: Market crash? By: 04/29/2011 @ 9:47am

In the original version of Winning the Game, we use comments from the commodity page of the Wall Street Journal as one of the factors that farmers could use when making out their marketing plan for pre-…

Weather market already underway - Roy Smith By: 04/22/2011 @ 2:10pm

Grain market action this week confirms a weather market before the growing season even starts! Around here there were a few planters in the field on April 12 and 13.  Very few acres were planted before…

Roy Smith: Sell new-crop By: 04/15/2011 @ 11:24am

A big advantage to being a very small farmer is that I can plant my corn crop in three days. I do not even have to work very long days to accomplish that.  A big disadvantage is that I spend a lot of…

Roy Smith: Only in marketing By: 04/08/2011 @ 10:49am

Looking at the comments on the “Marketing” talk page, after this morning’s report, could be a study in psychology! Only in marketing would a report that did not change the numbers from the last report be…

Roy Smith: Want to buy some hay? By: 04/01/2011 @ 4:55pm

The primary crops on my small, retirement farming operation are soybeans and corn. There are also three small fields around the farmstead that were pastures when I raised livestock. Since I quit feeding cattle…

Roy Smith: Good economic news? By: 03/25/2011 @ 5:27pm

I am not an economist. Maybe my economic views are distorted by my dependence on farming for a living. Maybe my economic views are distorted by the fact that I live between Omaha and Lincoln. Maybe I don’t…

Roy Smith: Market knows more By: 03/18/2011 @ 12:32pm

In the future, if one were to look up volatility in the dictionary a chart of today’s grain markets would probably come up. I do not remember a time in my farming career when there have been so many forces…

Roy Smith: Market knows more By: 03/18/2011 @ 12:32pm

In the future, if one were to look up volatility in the dictionary a chart of today’s grain markets would probably come up. I do not remember a time in my farming career when there have been so many forces…

Earthquake disrupts markets By: 03/11/2011 @ 10:44am

Any good technical or seasonal system can be disrupted by a worldwide cataclysmic event. Such things as the Chernobyl nuclear explosion in Russia or the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001caused the markets…

Roy Smith: Longterm care insurance By: 03/01/2011 @ 3:12pm

A thread on the “Farm Business” talk page concerned long term care insurance and whether it was appropriate for farmers. I will share my experience on the subject from a farmer’s standpoint. Sharon and I…

Roy Smith: Bipolar markets By: 02/25/2011 @ 9:41am

A Facebook friend who lives in Kansas City said that the weather in her area was “bipolar”. I could say the same about weather here in Cass County Nebraska. Wednesday it was sunny and the temperature was…

Always an exception By: 02/21/2011 @ 8:07am

One of the principles in grain marketing is that the words “always” and “never” do not apply. Researchers look for 95 percent probability when doing agronomic investigations. In marketing…

A sure sign of when it's time to sell corn By: 02/11/2011 @ 1:56pm

I am getting a lot of questions from farmers and others about when and how high the corn market is going to go. That has been especially true following the bullish crop report this week. Trying to predict the…

Roy Smith: Dog days By: 02/07/2011 @ 7:38pm

The month of August is sometimes referred to as the “Dog Days of Summer”. This is because of the normally uncomfortable hot and humid weather before conditions start to get more favorable in September. The…

Roy Smith: Looking for a low By: 01/28/2011 @ 3:15pm

One of the first things I learned when I began studying the grain markets in the 1980’s was that it was very common to see a major low in the corn and soybean prices in February. At the time, I referred to…

Roy Smith: Here we go again By: 01/21/2011 @ 8:18pm

January is a logical time to be making marketing plans for the coming year if you have not already done so. As I start seeing commentary about how to write a marketing plan, I observe that again this year many…

Roy Smith: A new plateau By: 01/14/2011 @ 9:27am

My schedule of winter meetings starts next week with “Winning the Game” Workshops at Wilcox and Franklin NE on January 18. In preparing for these educational meetings the team is always looking for ways to…

Roy Smith: Repeating market history By: 01/07/2011 @ 6:50am

There is a popular belief in grain trading circles that an event never repeats from one year to the next. I have pretty well discounted that theory in my own marketing research. I agree that history never…

Roy Smith: Year in review By: 12/30/2010 @ 3:48pm

What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time I was shoveling out from one of the numerous snow storms of the season. I was worried because my bins were piled high with corn that was a little too wet…

Roy Smith: Drop dead dates By: 12/23/2010 @ 10:40am

 My field of expertise in the soybean and corn markets is in studying seasonal price patterns. For the most part this consists of looking at historic grain prices and trying to find a pattern that repeats…

Markets ignore cost of production By: 12/10/2010 @ 12:47pm

A comment on the Agriculture.com Marketing Talk forum this week by Jim Meade brought a lot of response from readers. I have known Jim since Agriculture.com started some 15 years ago. He has a lot of…

Improve your marketing odds with seasonal trends updates By: 12/06/2010 @ 8:32am

This is the time of year when I begin preparations for winter meetings. The first step in that process is to update charts for 2010. These charts include December and March corn futures, November and May…

Seasonal trend updates help your marketing odds By: 12/03/2010 @ 3:32pm

This is the time of year when I begin preparations for winter meetings. The first step in that process is to update charts for 2010. These charts include December and March corn futures, November and May…

Roy Smith: Time flies By: 11/24/2010 @ 10:41am

Ten years ago this week, I wrote what turned out to be the most popular column of my writing career. It was published in the mid-February 2001 issue of Successful Farming. It was entitled “The Kitchen…

Grain markets on roller coaster ride By: 11/19/2010 @ 11:15am

Last week’s column about horse trading looks amazingly appropriate looking back at what has happened since the government crop report on November 9. Initially corn futures put in a key reversal down that day…

Roy Smith: Horse trading? By: 11/12/2010 @ 10:37am

The soybean market, in recent weeks, reminds me of the story of two farmers trading an old, worn-out horse back and forth. Each time the horse changed hands the price got higher. Finally an outsider came to…

Roy Smith: It's time to make sales By: 11/05/2010 @ 2:44pm

Most of the time, timing soybean sales according to the dead cat bounce is a matter of counting days above the harvest low and subtracting the harvest low price from the current bid to calculate the size of…

Roy Smith: Torn between a good price and a better one By: 10/29/2010 @ 1:46pm

I sold some cash soybeans last week. To be technically honest, I lifted the hedges I had placed early in the year and at the same time priced the 40% of my 2010 crop that the hedges covered. Because of the…

Typical 'dead cat' bounce? By: 10/22/2010 @ 9:12am

The soybean market has completed all of the necessary elements of a normal dead cat bounce. With the passing of ten trading days since the October 4 harvest low, we are now into the territory where a top in…

Watch for 'dead cat bounce' clues By: 10/18/2010 @ 9:26am

We finished soybean harvest at my farm on Wednesday of this week. It was a very quick run of 15 days with the longest weather break amounting to about one hour on the Morning of October 4. The beans plants…

Watch the 'dead cat bounce' for cash sale clues By: 10/15/2010 @ 9:34am

We finished soybean harvest at my farm on Wednesday of this week. It was a very quick run of 15 days with the longest weather break amounting to about one hour on the Morning of October 4. The beans plants…

Time to start counting! By: 10/08/2010 @ 12:50pm

At this time of year I get questions from farmers concerning whether it is time to look for the dead cat bounce in the soybean market. Until this week, I have replied that there has been nothing that even…

Roy Smith: Delayed frost rally? By: 10/01/2010 @ 9:17am

It is October 1 and harvest is almost in full swing here in Cass County, Nebraska.  The farmer I harvest with started on soybeans Monday. He raises seed beans and always gets started as soon as the beans…

Roy Smith: Seasonal highs in cash corn By: 09/17/2010 @ 11:49am

Two week ago, I shared the results of my study on the seasonal highs in the cash soybean market. Today, I will explain the results of a similar study of cash corn prices. Unfortunately, the results are not as…

Psychology will rule the grain markets until harvest By: 09/10/2010 @ 2:22pm

The much awaited September crop report did not have any big surprises. It looks as if the corn numbers were a little positive and the soybean numbers a little negative to price direction. Trade during the…

Psychology will rule the grain markets until harvest By: 09/10/2010 @ 2:10pm

The much awaited September crop report did not have any big surprises. It looks as if the corn numbers were a little positive and the soybean numbers a little negative to price direction. Trade during the…

Roy Smith: Seasonal highs, cash vs. futures By: 09/03/2010 @ 9:01pm

It is normal to see a seasonal high in the soybean futures market either just before or just after the September crop report. My rule of thumb is to sell cash soybeans the day before the September crop report…

Roy Smith: Strange times By: 08/27/2010 @ 10:00am

Last Friday, August 20, Sharon and I drove to Wichita for one of our mini vacations. We returned home on Monday afternoon. While eastern Kansas is not known for being a major grain producing area, it was…

Roy Smith: Frost scare By: 08/20/2010 @ 2:57pm

This is the time of year that shows, on my long term seasonal charts, as the “frost scare” period. With the early planting and heat we have had so far this year, convincing the soybean markets of a frost…

Roy Smith: Frost scare By: 08/20/2010 @ 9:00am

This is the time of year that shows, on my long term seasonal charts, as the “frost scare” period. With the early planting and heat we have had so far this year, convincing the soybean markets of a frost…

Roy Smith: Psychological markets By: 08/13/2010 @ 2:58pm

One of the 'Murphy’s Laws' for commodity traders says, “The market is not logical; it is psychological. The market’s reaction to the government report yesterday seems to prove that…

Roy Smith: Is this the year? By: 07/29/2010 @ 11:00pm

One of the techniques I use to study seasonal trends in grain markets is to plot cash soybean and corn prices at my local elevator over a period of years. Using this information I look at the actual prices…

Roy Smith: Is this the year? By: 07/29/2010 @ 11:00pm

One of the techniques I use to study seasonal trends in grain markets is to plot cash soybean and corn prices at my local elevator over a period of years. Using this information I look at the actual prices…

Roy Smith: The future of agriculture By: 07/22/2010 @ 11:00pm

A few weeks ago there was a program on Iowa Public Television that I found very interesting. It had to do with the proliferation of microbreweries in the state. I am not a beer connoisseur or…

Roy Smith: Rethinking rent rates By: 07/12/2010 @ 11:00pm

I finished the last of my corn sales for the 2009 crop on July 1 as I had told farmers at my winter marketing meetings I would. I caught 33 cents of the most recent price improvement by waiting until the last…

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