Even as our early harvest is drizzling away with regular rains, the nation as a whole is making record progress.
As this is written, we can only speculate as to the exact progress, since USDA took Monday off for Columbus Day.
The market expects the delayed report this Tuesday afternoon to show corn around 70 percent harvested and soybeans to be in the 60s. The five-year averages are 29 percent for corn and 40 for soybeans.
That seems ridiculous for early October, but it has been that kind of year. The hot start to the year pushed early planting, then the drought accelerated the crop.
Locally, we have good crops of corn, but the deer in my back yard are going to suffer when they scratch through the snow this winter looking for apples. The Northern Spy that rubs against my office window has not one apple on it.
In a normal year, we anticipate frost and hope the crops get mature before the first killing night. I can remember getting up to white yards and hearing my dad say, “Well, the corn got ripe last night!” This morning we had frost for the first time in Wayne, and it was a ho-hummer. Maybe we should have moved a few plants into the house, but the crops were finished long ago.
With the harvest so far along, the market is acting like it is November.
Thursday morning USDA will release the Crop Production Report and the Supply and Demand Report. Normally, we would be anticipating that news to indicate market direction, but this week it does not matter so much, except in principle. So much harvest has been done that we are not looking for any surprises.
Still, we will have to respect the USDA numbers if there is any surprise.
Markets are still dealing with the sharply lower prices that have come as we have been harvesting what have been termed “better-than-expected” crops. The big bounce in corn came from the Sept. 28 Grain Stocks surprise that added 40 cents to prices in one day.
A little follow-through and a couple of sideways days still have the December futures trading at 7.45 on Tuesday morning. The high was over 7.67 on the fourth before we got a little correction to the bounce.
November soybeans have had a long downturn. The high was 17.89 on Sept. 4. The low was Oct. 3, at 15.04. That is a loss of $2.85 in a memorable month. A good bounce the last three sessions has up trading 15.65 this morning.
These drops in prices can tempt the farmer to think that there is plenty of room for a rebound. There is room, but my view is that we are seeing a return to reality as we see the crop come off.
The fear that drove the market was that we would run out of corn, but now that does not seem likely. Even the carryout of less than 1 billion bushels at the end of the year was blunted by the early harvest and the assumption at this time of year that we just go out and plant in the spring and reload the bins.
My fear at this point would be that farmers would regret missing the high prices and wait for them to return. They should not forget how historically high our prices still are.
It was one thing to be afraid to sell a crop that was not in the bin. That can be a good reason or a good excuse to delay sales. It is another thing to start into a wishful thinking phase with prices this high.