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Grain marketing

Agriculture.com Staff 11/28/2006 @ 7:53am

Harvest may be over but we are still moving corn. Now the first deliveries have been made to the ethanol plant across the road plus another ethanol plant about 20 miles away.

In fact, enough corn has been hauled away that one bin is now empty. It had corn in it for about 30 to 40 days and will now be empty until next October. It is a relatively small bin and this year only required the corn from about 100 acres to fill it.

There are two larger bins filled and waiting for delivery over the next months but when a bin goes empty, it feels like a death in the family. Well, maybe I am exaggerating a little, but once the bin floor is swept and there is not enough corn left on the floor to fill a coffee can, it makes me want to say, "The good die young."

An empty bin means I have used up all my chances. There is no more crop to sell at any price. It is also means no more checks for grain sold will be coming from this bin.

The corn that has been delivered was earmarked for fall delivery. I sold for fall delivery in case I had more corn than I had storage for and needed to make room. The lack of rain in July eliminated that problem. It was sold last winter when prices were looking good.

Unfortunately, no, make that fortunately, corn prices have improved by about a dollar bushel since those first sales. I tried to be the wise grain merchandiser so I sold ahead of the market when the wise thing to do would have been to do nothing and let the market come to me.

My book of Grain Marketing Rules, the source of advice and decision making for the past years, is being re-written. In fact, it seems to be changing on a day-to-day basis. Right now, the rule seems to be "Don't do anything. The market is going up, enjoy the ride."

Of course, what I really want to know is "Where will the ride end so I know when get off?" That is a multi-billion dollar question with many people wanting to know the multi-billion dollar answer.

My remaining soybeans are at the elevator with storage paid until the first of the year. Their ride will end before the first of the year because I do not want to pay for any more storage. The clock is ticking as I try to determine the best price I can get in the coming weeks.

Of my remaining two bins of corn, the contents of one bin are sold, as is half of the second bin. That leaves a half-bin of corn to ride this market where it takes us. Isn't this exciting?

All I know for now is that grain prices are at some spectacular heights and I am getting dizzy, or maybe, it is the lack of oxygen that is getting to me. The ride up has been wonderful but the ride down, if it happens, will not be anywhere as much fun.

Like any trip to a new place, I would like to stay awhile and get acclimated. I would like to see how much I like it and hopefully, linger there awhile before making the trip back. If there is a trip back down, I hope it is leisurely, as it will be done with great sadness and many regrets.

The grain market is in a place I have wished for, but never thought I would see. It is a new place with new rules, rules that are still being written because the old rules do not apply anymore.

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