Grain markets: It was a quick trip from cry to dry


Most of the spring the talk has been about how wet it has been. Farmers have been struggling to plant crops between the raindrops. There were some close-your-eyes days when the ground got worked wet because the forecast was for wetter.

Now is the spring of our discontent. Now, we are starting to talk about how dry it has gotten. Now, we are wishing we had not poked seed into mud that might crust over it.

Now, we are remembering the year we planted 80 acres of beans behind Dad’s house when he was adamant that it was two days too early. Well, at least I am remembering it. The beans crusted over and we hit the field with a rotary hoe twice trying to get some plants through the ground.

Dad was never much for “I told you so,” but the beans put out 35 bushels per acre and I got a lesson in patience.

One-week wonder

Last night Squeeze and I returned from a day of wandering to finish celebrating her “birthweekend.” (birthday is not enough!). As we turned in the drive, she asked if her white lilac had ever bloomed, so I just turned left and drove by it. We ended up taking a crop tour of the yard, checking out the late-budding trees and some new plantings in our little arboretum.

The lawn that I was churning holes in with my ZTR mower last week is bone dry this week. I could not hurt it, even with my All-American land yacht. It was a nice drive. I mow 6 acres, which is my way of downsizing from 1,200 acres of farming.

How dry is it?

So, if it is dry, is the party over? The Board crashed overnight, with corn down 7 and beans down nearly 10 cents.

But, that might just be a reaction to the gains going into the long weekend. It feels like the crop is still late, and we will know more this afternoon.

There are several more days of rain in the forecast, though we are sneaking through with overcast and no rain right now. And, even if we dry off and finish planting in the west, continued dry weather would just change the focus of a continued weather market.

We can focus on damage from lack of rain, which is the favorite game on the Chicago Board of Trade. Nothing gets the attention of the guys in the pits and (these days) at their computer trading terminals as a good dry spell.

Reading the charts

A look at the charts shows gains in beans that are surprising, and gains in corn more than make sense.

July soybean futures have gained nearly $3.50 since early March. The high was on last Wednesday at 11.89 1/2, but we have slid 33 cents off that since.

July corn futures gained nearly 65 cents from the end of April to last Wednesday. We hit at or near the same high four times, which is a sign of a top. We have lost 11 1/2 cents off the high to the overnight close on this Tuesday morning.

July wheat futures have rallied into the harvest, a common phenomenon for wheat. We hit the same low on the Chicago Board of Trade three times, on March 3, March 20, and April 20. Since then we have rallied from 5.10 to almost 6.20 on the overnight this morning.

The last leg is being pushed by wet weather that is holding up the harvest in the Southern Plains.

Price movement

All this means that, as usual, there is a lot of price activity this time of year. There may be more.

If the crop gets finished and normal rains come back, the prices will decline. Don’t miss this opportunity, but beware of more to come in June.

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