Ed Usset

Marketing specialist,
University of Minnesota Center for Farm Financial Management

Ed Usset is a marketing specialist at the University of Minnesota Center for Farm Financial Management. he authored "Grain Marketing is Simple (It's Just Not Easy)"; helped develop "Winning the Game" grain marketing workshops; and leads Commodity Challenge, an online trading game. He also blogs about grain marketing at Ed's World
Ed also writes a monthly column for the print edition of Corn+Soybean Digest.

Old-Crop Strength

Old-crop grain prices have tread water for months. Many traders believe that a market that cannot establish a clear uptrend is a market poised for a setback. I don’t agree. Old-crop corn and soybeans prices will hold steady and trade higher in the next few months. I read the same bearish news that you do. Let’s walk through the problems.

Take the Pricing Leap

Talk of the fiscal cliff wore me down. It reminded me of the buzz surrounding Y2K at the new millennium. What happened on January 1, 2000? The sun rose in the East and I had a cup of coffee. Life as we know it continued to march forward. I expected the same from a fiscal cliff.

2013 Market Questions

Every new year is an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and look to the future with a fresh eye. Higher and higher land prices indicate that grain production has been a good way to earn a living over the past few years. But as I look forward I have questions.

Checking it Twice | A Naughty and Nice List For Corn, Soybeans

With a nod to jolly St. Nick, I’m going to double-check my own naughty and nice list from another incredible year in the world of corn and soybeans. In January, I wrote of worry (naughty) and opportunity (nice). Naughty was a market searching for direction in a world with some enormous economic problems. Nice was new-crop grain prices above production costs. Sound familiar? With a new year just weeks away, the same worries and opportunities remain on my list.

Still a Basis Bull | Stocks Continue to Remain Tight Through Current Marketing Year

USDA reports confirm a poor corn crop. Relative to trend-line yield expectations, I consider 2012 one of the five worst years in the last century. We started the current crop year with the lowest corn supply in a decade. On the demand side, something has to give, and the pace of exports has plummeted. But feed and ethanol demand is surprisingly resilient. The net result is a projection for even tighter ending corn stocks by next summer.

Short Crop Pricing?

What type of market are we facing? Is the main feature of this market the butt-kicking drought that started the current crop year, or is it the tight stocks that will end it? The answer might help me do a better job in pricing.

Inverse Market Options

Harsh droughts are not fun. And, relative to expected yields, the 2012 corn crop will go down in history as one of the five worst in the last 100 years. Drought-damaged crops and early harvests go hand in hand. Maybe this is for the better – finish harvest quickly and put this year of disappointment in the rearview mirror.

Drought Marketing

This year has all the signs of producing a corn crop that could fall short of trend-line yields by 20% or more. I call this a butt-kicking drought. Our last butt-kicking drought occurred in 1988. Yields were about 25% below trend. The drought of 1983 was nearly as severe. Beyond these years, we have to go back to the Dust Bowl. In 1934 and 1936, corn yields fell 30% short of trend.

Hedging with an Opinion

Last month I explored the hedging practices of merchandisers, exporters and processors, and how it is more than avoiding risk. These are basis traders who employ the purest form of hedging - placing long and short hedges regardless of price expectations or market opinion.

Hedging is More than Avoiding Risk

My course on “Agricultural Futures and Options” is 15 weeks of painfully dull lectures. With glassy eyes, my students endure talks on basis and carrying charges, speculation and spreading, balance sheets and options. Of all the topics covered, however, none is more important than hedging with futures contracts.

More Big Changes in Canada

Change is coming to the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) and with it, big changes for grain producers and the entire grain-marketing system in Canada. Predicting change is perilous territory. I’ll take a shot.

Big Changes in Canada

Last spring, the newly elected government in Canada announced its intention to do away with the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB). Even though the CWB operates as a marketing system for different commodities (wheat and barley) in a different country, this will impact corn and soybean markets. I’ll use the next two columns to tackle this question, starting with a little background and some reflections on my own dealings with the CWB.

Worry… And Opportunity

Turning the page on a new year should be a time for hope and renewal. But all I got are worries. Here’s one worry: price direction. Do you remember the great September market collapse in grain prices? In hindsight, that was a warning shot across our bow that said “the bull market is over.”

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