Priceless advice for cheap prices

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I call Amanda Price in our Ashland office “Miss Priceless.” Sometimes that is because her name is Price and I just want her to know who is calling. Sometimes her grain news, published by email every night, is priceless.
Sometimes her opinion is no better than mine.

Take last Monday, for example. I asked her is corn prices were going to zero. The answer, of course, was “no.”  I guess I knew that. Prices have never gone to zero. It just seems like that sometimes.

Last Monday, for example. Last Monday we were down again, and it was getting depressing. The phone doesn’t ring, even with truckers wondering where to pick up the next load.

You know prices are cheap when the truckers have given up. Corn futures were exciting when they were going up, and they went up on the December contract from $3.621⁄2 on June 16, to 4.541⁄4 on July 14. One month, almost 92 cents.

While it lasted

That was fun, while it lasted. Last Monday, we were back down to $3.741⁄2. Two weeks, almost 80 cents.

That was not fun, and the reasons given for it feel a little sickening. Yes, the corn crop is improving in the country, and the traders have stopped worrying about the crop and are just trying to figure how much corn we may produce.

I keep preaching local perspective, and here we are again. Locally, our crops are not as good as on the whole nationally.

Poor condition

Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri are the states that are seen to have the worst crops, and we are stuck producing a poor crop for poor prices.

It is hard to argue that the crops in Ohio, even, are improving, at least in Northeast Ohio.

The corn is greener, it is just that a lot of it is still three or four feet tall and it has now tasseled. The beans are knee high in many fields, except where they are shorter. We will leave a few pods tight to the ground when we combine.

Many evenings squeeze and I sit on the balcony and watch the deer eat the neighbor’s soybeans. The deer glow golden brown in the early evening light.

Their heads do not even disappear into the green growth because it is too short. The thin patches where the deer are feeding are noticeable even from a quarter-mile away now.

The beans are not growing fast enough to camouflage their grazing.

The deer are repopulating the slashing that was woods until they were driven out of it last summer. Now they are fattening up before the bean harvest and planning just where to hide before the deer harvest.

Population control

Bleeding hearts who can’t stand to see the deer shot are never the ones who planted the corn and soybeans to feed them. I have to admit that I have heard of rifle scabbards mounted to combines in Ashtabula County.

So, all those down days. Then comes this Monday.

This Monday, prices were sharply higher and analysts were struggling to find a good reason. December corn futures were up 171⁄2 cents at $3.90 1⁄4. November beans were up almost 36 cents, to $10.45. Even the December wheat was up 15 cents, to $5.23 3⁄4.

So, what gives? By the end of the day, when market letters are released and analysts produce reasons for the price swing, the reasons were all about the coming USDA reports.

Aug. 12, we received new crop production numbers, and the traders were starting to worry that they had pushed prices too low.

Maybe we really don’t have a 13 and a third billion-bushel crop. Maybe our average yield was not going to be almost 165 bpa.

How it worked

The market was actually pushed by soybeans first, then followed by corn. Traders were putting the average soybean yield at 44.7 bpa for a crop of almost three and three thirds billion bushels.

This all means that, after a horrible start to the season, we are having a huge crop. That is hard to believe in Ohio, and, on Monday, it was apparently a little hard to believe in Chicago, too.

Then came Tuesday, Aug. 11. This morning, corn is down more than six cents, beans are down 12, wheat is down eight, and the traders are saying they overdid it Monday. We will know a whole lot more when we get new numbers (Aug. 12) from USDA.

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