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Across the editor's desk: November 2006

Agriculture.com Staff 10/28/2006 @ 7:43pm

October 9 and 12 met every criteria for me to repeat one of my favorite sayings: Today is a good day to be a farmer. On those days, combines in most areas of the Midwest marched through bountiful corn and soybean fields. Best of all, cab radios sang "Market's Up!"

In many years, prices would be plunging and basis widening as the midpoint of harvest approached. "Harvest rallies are so rare that one hasn't occurred since 1995," says Agriculture Online Markets Editor Mike McGinnis.

October 9 and 12 were, therefore, harvest days to remember. December corn futures were up more than 18¢ on the 9th and up the 20¢ limit on the 12th. Prices had soared an amazing 80¢ from lows seven weeks earlier.

"That is a big move in corn," Ray Grabanski of Progressive Ag Marketing tells Agriculture Online. "Especially when you are at the beginning stages of harvesting an 11-billion-bushel crop. The rally (through October 9) equates to an extra $5.5 billion."

Corn growers can thank the wheat market for helping drive the rally in grains. By October 12, wheat prices had soared nearly $1.75 a bushel from their lows in August.

Wheat futures had enjoyed several limit up days while rocketing beyond decade highs. The market seemed to be begging moisture-short Great Plains growers to find a way to plant every acre they could. The market certainly was looking for help anywhere in the world to make up for the short crop from drought-stricken Australia.

While wheat and corn prices in October were speeding like sprinters on steroids, soybeans were slower to catch fire. By October 12, November futures had climbed 53¢ from late-summer lows. Prices were still stuck in the bottom third of the 10-year chart.

For soy sellers, patience is the number one virtue. Just wait. As with corn and beans, things will change, perhaps surprisingly, as crop acres and size in South America soon factor in.

While demand keeps growing for multiuse crops, production is always uncertain. Would anyone be surprised if some year soon we see ships delivering wheat, corn, or soybeans to U.S. ports to meet our domestic needs?

I know you have a bumper crop of demands on your reading time. Still, this winter I urge you to add a new novel, Deadstock, to your reading list.

Deadstock is about a bioterrorist plot, motived by money, to create a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. Futures trading is the means to the payoff.

I love Deadstock (I wrote the book's foreword) not only because it is a great story, but also because of the author's attention to scientific detail. Kate Iola has a master of science degree in molecular pathology and has been issued three patents. She contributes occasionally to Successful Farming magazine and to Agriculture Online.

I know you'll be entertained by Deadstock. More importantly, you'll learn about science, food safety, and our food system's vulnerability.

Deadstock sells for $14.95. To order, call toll free 800/678-5752 or go to www.farmhomecollection.com.

October 9 and 12 met every criteria for me to repeat one of my favorite sayings: Today is a good day to be a farmer. On those days, combines in most areas of the Midwest marched through bountiful corn and soybean fields. Best of all, cab radios sang "Market's Up!"

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