Election news dominating the grain markets

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New Holland corn combine
Harvesting corn.

Writing about the grain market is a challenge on the day the nation goes to the polls to vote for a new president. Reporting on recent price changes and about thoughts for the future does not seem important this morning compared to events of the day to come.

Today, we do something we have not done for eight years, and it feels momentous. The commentators all tell us this is the most crucial election in our lives. I seem to remember they told us that last time.

John Quincy Adams probably heard the same thing.

Maybe the momentous and critical nature is true this time. What is true is that we have never chosen from candidates so obviously flawed, although we have chosen before from candidates with comparable hidden flaws.

In a few years we may know how our choice did. We hope that our experiment as a representative democracy survives our political process.

Grain prices

With that cheerful backdrop we look at grain price movement. Harvest progress is an old story. The harvest has gone well.

Our pace is well ahead of normal for corn and soybeans. It is just not as good as last year. The corn crop is 93 percent harvested in the country, and 91 percent done in Ohio.

Last week, the country was at 65, the state at 75. Our average for the U.S. at this time is 85 percent, although Ohio’s is only 67 percent.

The soybeans are a similar situation. Ohio is at 95 percent harvested, up from 88 a week ago. The national stats are similar, at 93 for this week and 87 for last. The average for Ohio is 85, but we were at 98 last year.

The U.S. has a 91 percent average harvest at this date, and was at 94 last year.

Harvest order

Some parts of the country run the beans first, some parts do them late. Right now we are doing all the remainder at the same time. In Northeast Ohio and Northwest Pennsylvania, a Sunday drive revealed areas of complete harvest, areas of corn fields still standing, and areas with both.

In some cases the beans were not ready when most farmers were combining in good weather. Sometimes this was because of local showers, or planting date. In some cases it was the maturity.

Some food-grade beans are still standing in my neighborhood. An area north of Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania, has more than half of the crops standing.

Market enthusiasm

Last week I was enthusiastic that we were seeing good gains off early harvest lows During the last ten days; however, we have seen some setback. Prices for corn and soybeans got to levels not seen since the summer, then declined.

They have gained the last two sessions, however.

Look at the December corn futures. The recent low was $3.25 on Sept. 30. The recent high was $3.591⁄4 on Oct. 20. The low was put in again at $3.441⁄4 on Nov. 2, a drop of 14 cents. Then, we recovered a little to the current, on Nov. 8 morning, $3.47.

Look at the chart and it is mostly sideways right now. Look carefully and you see the changes.

Soybean charts are a little more dynamic. The November futures show a high on Oct. 27 at $10.31. By the 2nd of November, we had lost 48 cents, to a low of $9.83.

However, this morning we are trading at $10.06-3⁄4, which is up more than eight cents for the day so far.

Good exports

The soybeans have benefitted from good export news. This week we sold 132,000 tons of beans to China and 135,000 tons of meal to the Philippines.

We exported 2.6 million metric tons last week, the third best inspection number of the year. This was also the four week in a row of exports over 2.5 million metric tons.

This export pace has us ahead of last year and ahead of the five-year average. It has, however, been predicted in the export surge USDA has predicted for the year.

While the pace has helped current prices, exports need to continue to be fast in order to not become a negative on prices instead of the current positive.

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Marlin Clark is an associate of Russell Consulting Group, with a local office in Williamsfield, Ohio. Comments are welcome at 440-363-1803.

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