Got the rain gauge (and grain market) blues

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The rain gauge told the story yesterday. I finally limped out there with my shepherd’s crook leaving holes in the ground. (That’s another story: I am getting old and brittle, and couldn’t find a cane in the house.)

I knew it would be bad, since it had been more than a week, but I was not prepared to see the water level above the last mark, about to run over. Four and a half inches of rain! That’s what I dumped out, and it was still raining, even though the forecast the night before was for clear weather for a change.

I came back in the office and checked the computer for weather. Now the forecast said rain for Monday, also. Sounds more like an “after-cast” to me.

So, no corn and beans off over a very large area, and just a glimmer of hope for this week. The hardiest and most stubborn dairy farmers are still trying to chop corn and are leaving ruts a foot deep.

The voices on the phone sound grim, and don’t want to talk about selling grain.

Short memories

Sitting here in my office, with my income almost as dependent on better weather as the farmers I talk to, I am reminded that this is early October.

Check out the diaries. We often have a wet spell right now as the weather patterns change from summer to fall. It is just ugly when it comes after a wet end of September.

It could be worse — I could have a warehouse full of wheat seed like friends a few miles south of me.

I am also reminded that the last half of October is often beautiful. I remember days and days of corn picking when I started the day with five layers of clothes and got down to my T-shirt in the afternoon.

(When the tractor caught on fire and the flames licked over my shoulder, I still had on the Carhartts, so there was no pile of clothes to get burned before I got the fire out with my quart thermos. This was just before I bolted a five-pound fire extinguisher to every vehicle I owned.)

It remains to be seen if the weather does get better soon. We are supposed to have high 60s for the rest of the week, but we need a month, and 15 MPH winds to go with it.

Oblivious market

What is seen now is a market that does not act like there is any problem with harvest. The market continues to go south, driven by a perceived decrease in demand and increase in supply.

We have apparently been doing a good job of rationing demand as we watch our tight supply situation. As the tight supply made our prices jump back near all-time highs a month ago, we squeezed down on the usage.

Prices broke as USDA told us the crop was smaller than thought the month before, but not small. A couple of weeks passed, then, USDA informed us we had more corn than the most optimistic trading group had projected. That continued the push down on prices.

Trading like we’re short

A couple of months ago I said we were trading like this was a short-crop year. We were working on the second-highest crop in history, but with demand that was creating shortages. The last month has confirmed that idea.

Corn prices are down just three cents from $2. That includes nearly 12 cents off overnight as we go into Tuesday. Every time it looks like we have found support, we rebound a few cents, then collapse some more.

The soybeans are a similar mess, down more than $3 in the same time, since Aug. 31.

The bright spot in this, like the sunshine coming this week, is that we have not had enough harvest to know what is out there. The more the market declines, the more frantic the correction could be if the crop is smaller than projected.

This is a straw to grasp at, but it might be all we have right now.

About the Author

Marlin Clark trades producer and elevator grain from an office near Andover, Ohio for Town & Country Co-op. You can reach him for comment at 440-293-4055. More Stories by Marlin Clark

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