I confess that as 2010 came to a close, I felt exhausted. Maybe you did, too. There is nothing easy about grain markets, or the pricing decisions that must be made in a difficult environment. We should be thankful that the new year arrived, and with it a fresh start.
Last year was exhausting because of the familiar lament of a grain marketer in a bull market – “I was too early and too cheap. In hindsight, I could have sold higher-priced corn and soybeans if I had dragged my feet in pricing 2010 crop.”
Ditto for the start of pricing the 2011 crop. Now that our fresh start is here, how should we deal with those too early and too cheap sales?
We may be short grain stocks, but there is no shortage of bulls. Commodity bulls will advise you to re-own earlier sales of corn and soybeans with the purchase of futures contracts or call options. That advice may prove correct, but it is a trader’s approach to marketing. Are you a grain trader or producer?
Concerning pricing decisions made months ago, you have a choice. Will you look backward with re-ownership strategies, trying to correct earlier pricing decisions made on your 2010 and 2011 crops? Or will you look forward to decisions that must be made concerning the rest of your 2011 crop? And while you are looking forward, have you noticed the value of your 2012 corn crop is up over $1/bu. since early summer? Your 2012 soybean crop is up $2/bu. As a grain producer, too early and too cheap is the best of problems, if you choose to look forward.
Look forward. You’re a grain producer and seller, not a grain trader. A fresh start demands that you look forward.
Does the current market make you want to ignore a marketing plan written months ago? Great marketing demands discipline. Don’t abandon your plan – adapt it. Here are a few suggestions on how to adapt your marketing plan.
The opposite problem happened in summer 2008 – too many producers chose to lock in high-priced fuel and fertilizer, but waited to lock in a selling price for grain. A bear market ensued and, ouch. Tie these decisions together and you take a big step forward by turning price risk management into margin management.