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Mother Nature Is Still In Charge, Analyst Says

This year, Argentina's farmers are being reminded of who is in control.

While at the Commodity Classic held in Anaheim, California this past February and early March, the author of this Perspective had plenty of opportunities to visit with producers.

We talked markets, farm policy, politics, and the world at large. One theme seemed to surface, the suggestion that crop production is nearly bulletproof and that weather plays little role.

While listening patiently, it became abundantly clear that memories are sometimes short-lived. Production challenges exist every year, and weather is still the dominant factor affecting supply and price direction.
Of course, new equipment, better tillage practices, genetics, and most importantly, better farmers are increasing the odds of generally good (if not great) crops in most years. Yet, when you think you have Mother Nature figured out, you're probably in for a rude awakening. Ask the Argentine farmer this year, who is struggling with dry weather and has been since early fall. The USDA figures on this month’s Supply and Demand report indicated a significant crop production change. Argentina’s soybean production in February was estimated at 54 million metric tons and is now at 47 million. Last year's production was 57.8 million. The Argentine corn crop was also downgraded from 39 million metric tons in February to 36 million tons. Last year's figure was 41 million metric tons. Not only does weather play the most critical and important role, it will also determine the fate of commodity prices worldwide. After successive years of large crops worldwide since 2012, the marketplace has become complacent and is used to cheap and abundant supply. While this helps the demand base grow for commodities, it is painful for producers because margins are squeezed.
Often after a short crop, as was the case in 2012 when droughts struck the U.S., prices rally and consequently demand diminishes. Production usually increases as high prices create a rush to produce more. Ultimately, once this rush has occurred, oversupply exists. As 2018 unfolds, the expected shortfall of production in Argentina sets the stage for world corn production to be less than world demand. This increases the need for the U.S. to produce another banner crop. Six in a row? Is this pushing the bounds of luck?
Corn producers should not necessarily turn bullish, at least not yet. They should be aware that prices are potentially on a springboard. Yet, we've been down that road before, and prices, which seem poised to rally, can quickly fall apart. This is particularly true if weather cooperates, as was evident in 2016 and 2017.
The key for you is a balanced approach. Sell into the highest probability price window for December corn futures, which is between $4.00 and $4.50. Cover these positions with call options. On the production you intend to not forward sell, purchase put options to establish a price floor. As summer unfolds, weather will determine price direction. Be ready. A balance of cash sales, re-ownership with calls, and a flooring mechanism with puts will prepare you. Anything can happen. When I hear absolutes, like I recently have, something big is likely to happen.
If you have questions or comments, contact Top Farmer at 1-800-TOPFARM, ext. 129. Ask for Bryan Doherty.
Futures trading is not for everyone. The risk of loss in trading is substantial. Therefore, carefully consider whether such trading is suitable for you in light of your financial condition. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.
Carol Tillmann Front Desk Administrative Assistant | Stewart-Peterson Office: 800.334.9779 | Fax: 262.334.6225
Futures and options trading involve significant risk of loss and may not be suitable for everyone. Therefore, carefully consider whether such trading is suitable for you in light of your financial condition. Hypothetical performance results have many inherent limitations. No representation is being made that any account will or is likely to achieve profits or losses similar to those shown. No representation is being made that scenario planning, strategy or discipline will guarantee success or profits. The data contained herein is believed to be drawn from reliable sources but cannot be guaranteed. Reproduction of this information without prior written permission is prohibited. This material has been prepared by a sales or trading employee or agent of Stewart-Peterson and is, or is in the nature of, a solicitation. Any decisions you may make to buy, sell or hold a futures or options position on such research are entirely your own and not in any way deemed to be endorsed by or attributed to Stewart-Peterson. Stewart-Peterson refers to Stewart-Peterson Group Inc. and Stewart-Peterson Inc. Stewart-Peterson Group Inc. is registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as an introducing broker and is a member of National Futures Association. Stewart-Peterson Inc. is a publishing company. A customer may have relationships with both companies. Accordingly this email is sent on behalf of the company or companies providing the services discussed in the email.

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