Winter blues with Sgt. Schultz grain market


The basic problem with writing a grain marketing column for (gulp) 22 years is that readers start to assume the writer knows something. The danger is actually that the writer starts to think he knows something.

This morning I am back reminding myself of the Sgt. Schultz rule of grain marketing: “I know nothing!” Actually, the real quote is, “I know nah-tingk!”

You remember Schultz from “Hogan’s Heroes” fame. Col. Hogan would pull a scam, usually with the bumbling accidental aid of the sarge. He would get called on the carpet and swear his innocence to Col. Klink.

‘I know nothing!’

I have spent the last month on the phone playing Schultz to every farmer wanting to know why the corn prices are not back over $4.

On Jan. 20, we had March Chicago corn futures at 4.07. After a dip, they were back over 4.02 on the 26th. Last night, Monday/Tuesday, we dropped over 3 cents again to erase the Monday gains. We are now at 3.48-1/2, and all my optimistic targets seem oh so far away.

I went to bed last night wondering what I had to say today. Another wonderful chance to talk about the disappointing market that had become the sickening market was at hand.

Soybean futures had dropped over $2 in just over a month, to go along with the 60-cent break in corn prices.

Wheat had dropped a buck and a half since early January, but had not made a new low, only because the old low was clear down at 4.71 March Chicago futures, still 34 cents lower.

Life around us

I woke up this morning to the most beautiful day in the year, and the grain prices didn’t seem so important. Today is the prettiest day of the year in Wayne, Ohio, and is a reminder of why Florida is not an option. I could play golf today in Winter Haven, but I wouldn’t break 125, and I would miss the best day of the year here.

In Wayne today we have hoarfrost a quarter of an inch deep. Every tree is covered. Every bush and dead plant is suddenly encrusted with jewels that only God can make. The ground is twinkling with little gems of light.

I can hear a downy woodpecker beating his brains out in my river birch. He digs out a grub to eat, and shards of ice-jewels drift around him.

All the birds flushed from the feeder when I came out of the house with Jack the Wonder Westie, but the bravest chickadees are coming back to the sunflower seeds. They will let me stand within 10 feet, and will only move to an overhanging branch when I refill the feeder, which is three times a day right now. The big feeder is still waiting to be hung up.

Once this winter, a cold-soaked goldfinch let me slide my finger under his feet until he was perched on it. He complained to me that my thistle feeder had been broken and not replaced. A bear broke it off, and it, too, has a replacement in the garage.

The apple trees next to the house are surrounded with fresh deer tracks. By spring all the drops will be gone.

Grain prices are depressing, and later today I will worry about that. Right now, God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world.


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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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