New-crop December corn prices topped $4.30 per bushel in mid-week following a few bull signs from the Jan. 12 USDA crop reports. But that doesn’t generate a strong enough cash price to temp many farmers to make early sales, say two university grain-marketing specialists.
“Pre-harvest marketing is an opportunity we can take when prices are above breakeven or when we believe prices will not get any better,” says Chad Hart, Iowa State University Extension grain marketing economist. “While farmers might consider locking a small percentage of the 2015 corn crop, I'm not pushing too hard to make that move right now.”
“Midwest producers who can get a $4 harvest cash bid should consider selling some as a hedge against another large crop in 2015. They can’t get that price now,” adds Darrel Good, University of Illinois ag economics professor emeritus.
The December contact backed off to below $4.10 later in the week after information from the USDA projections set in. USDA said U.S. feed grain supplies for 2014-2015 are projected lower with a reduction in corn production more than offsetting an increase in sorghum. Harvested area for corn is increased slightly, but the national average yield is estimated 2.4 bushel per acre lower at 171.0 bushels.
USDA estimated corn production at 191 million bushels lower. Yield and production, however, both remain records, USDA indicated. Total projected corn use for 2014-2015 was reduced 75 million bushels, with lower feed and residual use only partly offset by an increase in corn used for ethanol production.
According to Farm Futures magazine, the reports show adequate supplies, though not as big as feared, which should shift the debate soon to lower planting intentions in 2015. Overhang from a bearish soybean market could spell trouble for corn, so continue to price inventory on rallies.
USDA raised the projected average corn farm price by 15¢ to $3.35-3.95 per bushel. Hart says the corn report was slightly bullish in the short term. “But events in other markets, such as crude oil, are overwhelming that impact,” he says. “In the long run, the report does indicate some optimism that demand will remain strong in 2015.”
Hart says he wouldn’t recommend that farmers get more then 5-10% of their new-crop corn priced on a cash basis just yet. “Putting in some price floors via options could be attractive now,” he notes. “That would allow producers to capture potential upswings in the market, while protecting against price drops.”