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Preliminary report: Corn prices hold steady
October 08, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Photo by Lisa Betz/Gering Citizen - A cornfield south of Gering awaits the harvest.

Although some high moisture corn has been delivered to feedlots, the area’s corn harvest isn’t expected to get rolling for another two weeks.

Jon Calanan, grain merchandizer with Crossroads Cooperative, said most of the crop is still in the 20-25 percent moisture range. Dryland acreage, which is down this year, should come in first.

“We don’t have a killing frost showing up in the forecast until about the end of October and that should speed things up quite a bit,” Calahan said. “While some fields are lagging in maturity, the forecast should give them the opportunity to mature out.”

Calahan said he expects to have a good harvest starting around the end of October. Normally, the area’s heaviest corn harvest dates happen in early November. This year’s forecast frost date was the third and fourth week of September, so the harvest is running about a month behind predictions.

Shain Shimic, manager of West Plains LLC in Gering agreed that most producers are optimistic about the yield potential for this year, although it might not be as good as last year. He said because of wet weather in the spring, there’s a good four to five week window for harvest this year. Usually it’s a two to three week window.

“I still think the harvest will work out great, in spite of the planting problems we had this spring,” Calahan said. “Some fields were planted late because of the wet weather and some acres had to be replanted because of early season hail. Those areas will be down on total crop.”

From fields in the Scottsbluff, Gering and Bridgeport areas, Calahan said some will have excellent yields. He expects the local crop to be about the same as last year.

While producers will know more once they get into the fields, prices are always a concern with so much corn being grown throughout the Midwest.

“The abundance of corn will hamper any big rallies right now,” Shimic said. “The price range should continue in that $4 a bushel price range and that’s not good. Four dollars a bushel is about the break-even point for most producers.”

Calahan of Crossroads Cooperative is also seeing an abundance of corn across the nation. “The export market had been really weak lately,” he said. “As far as the U.S. in general, I think the ethanol and renewable fuels quota will be a big driver of corn prices. Corn prices have been kind of range-bound for the last couple of years. I don’t see anything that will push prices up over the edge. I don’t see a huge jump in corn prices.”

Calahan added there may be some short-lived price rallies, but producers should realize prices won’t be up to the price support of two years ago.

Jessica Groskopf, extension educator with the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center, said there are about 1.7 billion bushels of corn nationwide that were carried over from last year, which will suppress prices.

“We’re also looking at some fairly significant production in the U.S., about 13.6 billion bushels,” she said. “When you add that together, we have a lot of grain out there and it will tend to keep prices low unless we see some big movement of grain.”

Groskopf added the local futures market for corn is trading just under four dollars a bushel. Once basis (cost for the elevators) is deducted, the price is in the $3.60 range.

“We’re not seeing much change in supply or demand locally, based on what the elevators are telling us,” she said. “The futures market aren’t giving producers the dollars they need to carry over their grain, so they might be better off selling. We’re not seeing a future demand for that grain at this point.”

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