Market shifts to crop condition watch


With planting caught up, the traders on the Chicago Board of Trade are switching their attention to the condition of the crop.

In recent times, the trading has been based on the fear that corn acres would be switched to beans as the planting was delayed. (Traders on the CBoT assumed that we really could find the seed to make this happen!)

As it became apparent corn was probably getting planted and beans would be eventually, the emphasis shifted to the condition of the crops.

Looking good

It was assumed that the wet conditions that had delayed planting would have resulted in poor conditions. That assumption would be wrong, according to USDA.

USDA released the first Crop Conditions Report along with the Planting Progress this week, after the close of trading Monday. If you believe them, the conditions are better than normal.

A comment on DTN this morning reminds us that, at this time of year, USDA is always willing to assume the best.

Let’s look at that a minute: To my eye, although it is limited to Ohio, we have not had the delayed planting conditions we sometimes have. That would be heavy rains, standing water, corn that was planted but has not emerged, slugs, you name it.

Remember 2006? We replanted most of the early crops in some areas.

Instead, we have had regular showers that limited planting, but did not hurt the planted acres much, except for slowing them.

(Full disclosure requires that I remind you I live in Ashtabula County. We got the hang of planting in April here 25 years ago. We have also gotten used to that one year in three when the corn planted in April emerges the last few days of May, or even in June. So, this year, the conditions are a lot better than that.)

Better than normal

The farmers have been complaining, but most of the early corn has good rows, but has been light yellow and not growing. The last few days of higher temperatures have it back growing and turning green.

I would say the conditions here are better than normal, just not what we want for ideal corn.

Looking at the USDA numbers, Ohio’s corn crop planting pace was no surprise to those of us watching lights in the fields at night. We went from 64 percent planted to 98 percent in one week.

At the same time, we got in nearly half our beans. We are at 78 percent as of Sunday night, and planted most of the rest, I would think, the two days after that.

For the nation, we are 95 percent on the corn, up 7 percent, and 69 percent for the soybeans, up 17 percent.

It is raining here this morning, Tuesday, June 3, and most of the farmers need the break and the rain.

Erratic prices

Prices have been erratic over the last few days of planting. The beans have followed crude oil prices more than planting. This is a new twist that we will have to get used to.

The corn broke well off the fear-stoked high of May 9 at 6.55 December futures. That was back when the market thought we would not get corn planted. We made a low on May 29 at 5.99 3/4, more than 55 cents off the high. Then, we rallied wildly Friday and Monday.

The nearby July futures gained 17 cents Friday and 16 1/2 Monday, June 2.

It is significant, technically, that July futures had good support at 5.83 1/2, having traded close to that four times in the last six weeks. Thursday we fell through that, to 5.73. That would have been a very bearish signal, except for the reversal of the last two days that sent us soaring back higher.

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