Old Man Winter heats up the grain market

LANSING — We don’t usually expect to have a weather market for grains in November, but that is what we had in mid-November. Corn and soybean harvest both got off to a slow start due mostly to wet conditions and, in many areas, a late-maturing crop.

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s Nov. 13 Crop Progress report showed both corn and soybean harvest finally catching up with the five-year average pace nationally — and about on par with last year’s harvest.

As of Nov. 10, corn harvest was 80 percent complete and soybean harvest was 90 percent complete nationally, both basically dead-on the 5-year pace.

But more recently, a harvest that has been challenging from the beginning appears to be running into winter weather that is developing a good deal faster than normal.

Extremely cold weather accompanied by snow (significant amounts in some areas) worked its way across the country, creating some concern about how much longer harvest will be delayed in parts of the Corn Belt.

Nearby corn futures gained around 20 cents between Nov.11-13 on harvest concerns. By mid-session Thursday, December corn was trading at its highest level since last July.

“Michigan is one of those northern states yet to complete harvest with some 15 percent-20 percent still in the field exposed to the elements,” said Bob Boehm, Manager of Michigan Farm Bureau’s Center for commodity, Farm and Industry Relations. “The extreme cold weather and large wet corn harvest even put a temporary strain on natural gas pipeline capacity in the Thumb, which forced a slow-down in dryer operation.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “the near-term forecast is calling for more cold weather, making it a continued challenge to complete this year’s harvest.”

This year’s crop is still record large, and the portion of it that is still in the field will find its way into a bin eventually (for the most part, anyway). In the meantime, this weather market has handed farmers the best pricing opportunity we have seen in four months.


Posted by Lonnie Allen

Lonnie is the Pioneer's city/county reporter. He also coordinates the Gardens and Growers page. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8328 or by e-mail at lallen@pioneergroup.com.

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