Market Monitor: Rain on plain starts to make grain

I laid awake for a long time in the middle of the night, listening to the rain. I am not sure why I do that. It should be a soothing sound to put me to sleep.

Memories

Maybe I am listening for wind, with a vestigial memory of the night the elevator blew off the corn crib. Maybe I am remembering the storm that gave us 7 inches in half an hour and cut Knapp Road in 11 places in the three miles between home and the farm.

Perhaps I am the victim of life in Ashtabula County, where the blessing of rain has often been overdone. Rain brings life and rain brings mudholes. Only those of us who eventually gave up and finally planted buckwheat the first week of July will understand that.

Monday and Monday night we had 2 inches of rain in most parts of the North Coast. Five miles of Interstate 80 in Trumbull County had 3 inches while I was driving on it Monday night. At 20 miles an hour. With my flashers on. With Squeeze begging me to pull over.

Let it rain

The rain most places was just what the grain doctor ordered, although I suspect there is still an occasional bean field here and there that is unplanted. Those who started planting very early finished up this week after a two-week break of wet weather. Those who said it was too early to plant in the middle of April were struggling to finish the last week of May.

For those of us who have converted to suburbanite living in the country, the rain meant the worst thatch of the decade was finally pushed into my lawn. I mow six acres, partly because it makes the house look like a country estate, and partly because I gave up a thousand acres and I haven’t quite adjusted. The only reason I have a five-foot mower is because I haven’t scraped up the money for a six-footer, and if I had the money I would build a pond instead.

The rain soaked in with no puddles and only some damage to the peonies from five minutes of hail. A walk with Jack the Wonder Westie and the Lumbering Lab early this morning revealed a beautiful day and the realization that I have never mowed my 100-meter rifle range and it is now waist high.

Market reacted

And, I am reminded that “rain makes grain.” It is one of the strongest axioms of the grain trade, and it will hurt the chance of price recovery from the bearish market we are experiencing.

Grain prices continue to decline on the Chicago Board of Trade. The corn and soybeans are now near the February lows, while the July wheat futures made a new contract low of $4.48 3/4 this morning on the overnight electronic trading.

The wheat low continues the down trend line which has a low at $4.83 3/4 in October, a low of $4.60 1/2 in early April, and the low this morning.

Major news is needed to stop this train wreck, and what we have instead is perfect weather for wheat.

News from abroad

All grains are continuing to be hurt primarily by European economic and political news. This is an old story, but continues as the dominant one.

This week focus was on another country, Spain this time, with critical debt issues pushing toward insolvency. The result was more erosion of the value of the Euro versus the U.S. dollar. This is a mixed blessing that gives us cheaper fuel, but also cheaper grain.

Crude vs. Corn

Crude was down $20 in the last week, but corn was down 28 cents in the last month. I don’t want to see corn be the same price as gasoline, no matter how cheap that makes it to get to the grandkids.

July corn futures had a low of $3.51 1/2 the end of April, bounced in two weeks to $3.85, but hit $3.53 early Monday morning. July soybeans spent three months, in three stages gaining a dollar from $9.20 on Feb. 4 to 10.20 on April 26.

This Monday morning they were back to $9.30 1/2 and still skidding.

Profitable farmers

Good crops at cheap prices are better than poor crops at good prices, so enjoy the rain.

I am ambivalent about the dollar value. As a good American, I want it strong. As a retired farmer, I care more about good prices and profitable farmers feeding the world.

Oh, and don’t call me after 2:15 p.m. this afternoon for awhile. The market will close, and I will be replacing the sleep stolen by the rain last night with a power nap in my chair. When the phone rings I snap my neck, and that gives me something else to complain about.

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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