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.

2015 Pre-harvest marketing plans 1

Corn and soybean prices are higher today than they were in early October. However, despite an impressive “dead cat” bounce, prices remain below production costs. Marketing plans are difficult to write when prices are below costs, but write one we must. Here are my pre-harvest marketing plans for 2015.

Christmas wishes for corn, soybean marketing

Santa has been very generous over the past few years. Last year I looked under the tree and found $13 soybeans and $4 corn; not quite as big as the gifts in 2012 (or 2011, or 2010), but they fit well and I was grateful. Rumor has it that Santa will not be as generous this year. Here is my corn and soybean marketing wish list for 2015.

What can boost corn, soybean prices?

Your harvest is late and, like it or not, the holidays are coming. This is a good time to think of all the things we should be thankful for, but $3 corn and $9 soybeans have me in a Grinch-like mood. Higher prices would take the Grinch off my back and put me in a thankful mood. What will it take to put a little zoom into grain prices?

Simplify your grain marketing 3

The lowest corn and soybean prices in five years are creating bad conditions for grain producers. This might be a good time to simplify our corn and soybean marketing strategy to see if we can’t recapture a winning approach.

Better corn, soybean prices by spring? 1

Despite my concerns, I continue to read marketing strategists who are urging producers to store grain at harvest and wait for better prices. Be stubborn! I disagree because I think the odds of a large price rise in the first-half of 2015 are small. The burden is on me to explain my outlook.

Difficult marketing decisions: Sell corn, soybeans now or store? 1

Harvest is back and it’s time to make some marketing decisions. Should I sell now or store grain to sell later in the crop year? Maybe I should sell the carry in the market. Our alternatives are limited and, with prices at four-year lows, the choice will not be easy. Let’s look at the cards we’ve been dealt.

Game Change: Grain prices falling  1

Corn prices, as measured by the national average corn price received by farmers, are sinking below the $4/bu. mark for the first time since summer, 2010. By harvest, cash corn prices could be $3.50/bu. or less. Old-crop soybean prices have stubbornly held their ground much better than corn, but new crop prices of $10/bu. or less are a real possibility by harvest. Like corn, we need to go back to 2010 to find sub-$10 soybeans.

Spring corn, soybean marketing: Hard questions  1

The long winter is over and your mind has turned to corn and soybean planting. It’s a convenient excuse to put corn and soybean marketing on the back burner, but I’m not going to let you do it. Here are some hard questions you need to answer in the next 10 weeks.

Corn prices and costs 1

Despite lower prices, I am reluctant to call this a bear market. The distinguishing feature of a bear market is a trend of persistently lower prices. That is not an accurate description of the current market.

5 Common mistakes in grain marketing

Ed Usset spoke to a ballroom full of farmers at Commodity Classic in San Antonio about the five most common mistakes made in grain marketing. From reluctance toward pre-harvest pricing to lack of an exit strategy, Usset offered scenarios of those mistakes, as well as what they cost, and some advice for 2014.

The patient grain marketer 1

Pricing some of your expected grain production before harvest is important and valuable. Early sales often beat the harvest price: for three out of four years in corn, and two out of three years in soybeans since 1990. Despite the favorable odds, I don’t like pricing new-crop grain at prices below production costs.

Green light for soybeans

Planting season is just a few months away, and producers are thinking about the economics of planting soybeans versus corn in 2014. It’s all about relative prices and, relatively speaking, new-crop futures prices strongly favor soybeans over corn.

Start 2014 with a preharvest marketing plan

Corn producers started the new year with prices too low and too much in the bin. Corn at $4 is a problem but, to be fair, this is not a problem that started at harvest.

A bearish outlook for corn in 2014?

A few weeks ago I gave my class an exercise on the balance sheet for grains. The assignment asked them to crunch the numbers on different supply and demand scenarios for the next crop year. Imagine my surprise when a simple exercise, designed to enlighten students, instead enlightened me with a bearish outlook for corn in 2014.

Celebrate another golden age of agriculture

I believe we are in the midst of another Golden Age of Agriculture, for two reasons: Farmers and ag companies are thriving, and we have a new generation of ag producers who don't know the "bad times."

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