Market Matters Blog

To Tweet, or Not to Tweet

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Actually, it was only decades ago in my little home town of Lewis, Kansas. Farmers would meet early each morning at the café on Main Street, one of the few paved streets in town, waiting for the sun to burn off what little dew there might be so another day of wheat harvest could begin.

In the center of that little café was a round table where a group of these farmers would congregate, boasting about yields from the day before. When the café finally closed down, as so many businesses in small towns do, these Farmers of the Round Table moved their coffee talk to the co-op, just outside the little nook I used as an office as the company commodity broker.

But time and technology have largely done away with roundtable chatter, replacing it with global social media sites like Twitter where information can be instantaneously shared with the world. Rather than bragging of one's 60 bpa soybean crop to your neighbor Carl over a cup of black, no sugar you now share that incredible information with Bob from Brazil and Richard from Russia. And anyone in between who happens to be following you or monitoring discussions of yield with a simple hashtag search.

Speaking of hashtags, #noyieldtweets is a growing debate on Twitter and the basis of this blog. Let me be absolutely clear: You have every right to boast about yields in any format you like. Heck, just as in the days of old, your tales don't even have to be completely true. But you also need to know that Watson (my name for large, global, algorithm-driven computer investment trade) is watching.

Twitter, and other social media sites, are something relatively new to agriculture, but global ag has embraced it as the way of sharing and obtaining crop information from around the world. The interesting thing about the site is it came along during the evolution of Watson that began its accelerated stage back in 2006. Watson is now a goliath with some of its trades established in the nanoseconds it takes to digest the wording of news headlines or bits of big data it is constantly being fed.

And that's where yield tweets come in. I've seen the argument that an individual tweet telling everyone how great yield is shouldn't, won't, influence trade. That's true in the same sense that one vote usually doesn't swing a presidential election one way or the other, unless it's Florida circa 2000.

But what about the conglomeration of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of these individual bits of information that Watson can monitor and trade off of?

Farmers are in the business of disseminating big data concerning yield and production information, whether they willingly share on social media or not. Most combines are equipped with yield monitors that record data, and those that are connected to the cloud in some way can be transferring yield data to storage there. If these numbers are known electronically, they are available to others. It's the way the game is played these days.

We just have to decide how much additional information, info that can be used to move markets, we feel like giving away for free.

To track my thoughts on the markets throughout the day, follow me on\Darin Newsom



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