As I travel around Ohio, I can’t escape the feeling that crops are improving rapidly. The beans have boomed in my neighborhood, and the corn finally got some rain. In fact, the crops look great if this were, say, July 15!
The haves got a lot a rain the last 10 days. The have-nots, not so much. We got 1.3 inches one night in Wayne, in Ashtabula County, and that doubled our July total.
The corn has been under a lot of stress, but is now tasseling and looking better. Just south, and in a streak over through Mercer County, Pa., the rains have been much heavier and the stress never appeared.
Farmers around Mansfield are talking about the best corn of their lives after 4 inches of rain last week.
So, where does that leave us? I am not sure. I told one feed mill owner yesterday that I put the Ohio crop at 85 percent of normal. That is, I don’t believe that USDA is right about how many acres we planted. I think they are way high.
And, the road-side surveys that look so good right now hide the bare spots that we were all talking about in June.
Still, the casual view is of good crops. The reality is that we are very late, however, and that exposes us to less yield and fears of maturity. A frost scare the end of September would change things a lot.
The USDA Crop Progress Report out Monday after the close had some snippets of interest. 62 percent of the corn crop is rated good and excellent, the same as last week. The beans are at 62 percent, down two from last week. The trade called this bearish, and I am not sure why.
I am concerned about the part of the report that graded maturity. The Ohio corn crop officially has no corn in the dough. That is not strictly true, but is scary when the average is 15 percent and last year we were at 28 percent at this time.
The nation as a whole was at 9 percent, with 23 being the five-year average.
With that said, the traders feel the corn is catching up with the current hot weather. The forecast has that going to hot and dry, so stay tuned. Maturity is the real wild card this year.
Prices were firmer on the Chicago Board of Trade the last two weeks, even as they fight off the influence of the rallying dollar. September corn futures put the low in the first of July at 6.03, then made a high at 7.22 1/2 less than three weeks later. We are now 44 cents off that high, but 75 cents above the low.
The December futures were similar, with the low at 5.76 on July first. The high was also the 19th, at 7.03. Now we are trading under 6.85 going into the Tuesday day session.
Soybeans show a similar pattern. The low was the last day of June, at 12.88 for November futures. The rally was to 14.08 on the 19th, then a break, and current trade of 13.64 1/2. The beans are actually up on the overnight, while the corn and wheat are lower.
September wheat futures have not had as big a range, but they just had a harvest, so there are fewer unknowns. The low was 6.10 on July 1st (there is that date again!), and the high was (surprise!) July 19th, at 7.19. We are now trading around 6.75.