SOYBEAN MARKET
The soybean markets continue to have a high degree of volatility. In recent weeks it has not been unusual to have daily price swings of 20-30¢/bu. or more, either up or down. This can be a very difficult time to make marketing decisions on a day-to-day basis. However, if a person looks at the “big picture,” the marketing decision may be easier. The current cash soybean prices are the highest since the drought year of 1988. Before that, you need to go back to 1973 for soybean prices above current levels. Local cash soybean prices have been above $9/bu. less than 1% of the time in the past 30 years. A farmer told me last week that he couldn’t believe that he was holding out for $10/bu. on his 2003 soybeans, when he hasn’t had a chance to sell at these prices in over 15 years. Professional grain market analysts appear to be getting nervous about the continued strength of the cash soybean market. It may be a good time to make some marketing decisions on remaining 2003 soybeans.

Many farm operators have already sold all of their 2003 soybeans and are now focusing on selling their 2004 soybean crop. Al Kluis, of Northstar Commodities, in St. Paul, focused on new-crop soybean marketing strategies at the recent “Grain Strategies Forum” in North Mankato. He encouraged soybean producers to have a marketing plan in place that is protected with CRC or RA-HP Crop Insurance policies, and to make incremental sales to take advantage of the current strength in the new-crop soybean market. New-crop soybean prices at the local level have been near or above $7/bu. in recent weeks. Local soybean prices have been above that level less than 15% of the time in the last 10 years and less than 20% of the time in the past 30 years. Don’t miss the opportunity to “lock-in” some of the current profit potential in the soybean market. There are other marketing strategies to keep some upside potential in the soybean market, while still taking advantage of the new-crop price opportunities.

CORN MARKET
Chuck Lundquist, of the FC Stone Company of Omaha, NE, discussed current strategies for the corn market at the “Grain Strategies Forum” on March 11. The market fundamentals for corn remain very strong. USDA is now projecting the corn stocks carryover at under one billion bushels, which is the lowest projected carryover since following the 1996 corn crop. Of course, that is when cash corn prices rose sharply and reached $5/bu. for a short period of time. It is also important to remember that corn prices in 1997 peaked by early spring and dropped back to near corn loan rate by the fall of 1997. Most market analysts are not anticipating that type of dramatic drop in the 2004 corn prices, because of the current tight carryover stocks and the anticipated strong usage and world demand for corn. However, it is important to note that during times of higher market prices, the cash corn price usually peaks by around corn planting time and has a “long tail” until harvest. Local corn prices are around $2.60/bu. for new crop and $2.75/bu. cash price for remaining 2003 corn, which are both in the top 20% of local corn prices offered in the past 10 years. Again, don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of the current corn marketing opportunities. Currently, there really isn’t a bad day to sell corn or soybeans, it’s just that some days are slightly better than other days!

Editors note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.