Cash Market Moves

Burning Question: When Will Old Crop Move?

Mary Kennedy
By  Mary Kennedy , DTN Basis Analyst
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Buyers and transportation companies are anticipating a large movement of stored old-crop grain starting in mid-June. (DTN photo by Elaine Shein)

Flat price increases in the last few weeks have begun teasing some old-crop soybeans and corn out of storage -- more beans than corn, according to my sources. Buyers and transportation companies are expecting a large movement of stored old-crop grain starting in mid-June.

On April 18, I wrote a column about the amount of old-crop corn, soybeans and other grains that had not been priced. Here is a link to that story for comparison to what the situation looks like now: https://goo.gl/…

From April 18 to May 18, the DTN cash corn index price gained 15 cents and the cash soybean index picked up a whopping $1.07. DTN National Average corn and soybean basis weakened by 3 cents since April 18, but given the rise in the cash prices, it didn't seem to matter; unless you had set the basis prior to the rise in futures, which put you ahead of the game.

"In my neck of the woods, what I like to call the 'easy bushels' have been moved when it comes to corn. By easy bushels I mean the grain that needed to go to ensure bin quality, cash flow and other needs were taken care of prior to planting season. The rally in the market combined with reasonably solid basis values at the start of said rally really helped make that decision much easier for guys," Angie Setzer, vice president of grain at Citizens Elevator in Charlotte, Michigan, told me.

Setzer said her "draw area" runs throughout Michigan and into northern Ohio and Indiana. "Going into summer, the corn bushels that are on the farm will likely be a bit harder to buy. We'll either need to see basis improvement start to kick in or see another leg up in the market to get much of what is left on the farm to move in June or early July. Of course that won't apply to everyone, but many of the guys I work with are now wanting to see if their bet on holding bushels into the summer will pay off. That combined with the slow start to planting pace in Michigan has some holding back on additional old-crop sales until they feel confident the crop they're planting this spring will be worthwhile."

On the bean side of things, Setzer said, "Most old-crop beans that have been sitting on the farm have been shipped. There may be some sitting out there just in case this market gets even crazier than what it has been, but for the most part, at least with the guys I work with, the bean bins are relatively empty. At this point on the side of the buyer, the movement in grain April into May has provided more than enough available supply in the short term with many feeling comfortable on the purchase side through June.

"I am starting to see some feeders poke their heads up inquiring on summer values, with some plants also inquiring what it will cost to get late-summer bushels bought. At this point with our shorter crop last year and the late start to planting, we could see things in this area get extraordinarily interesting, value-wise, late in the summer into harvest. The tale of two very different worlds when it comes to values in the Eastern Belt versus the Western Belt will continue."

Tim Luken, manager of Oahe Grain, in Onida, South Dakota, said, "I can tell you I bought more grain 30 days ago in one week than I did in the last four months before that. Ever since then, farmers have been selling off and on. We get a rally, some gets sold. A fair amount of corn has moved already and put into position via DP or contract."

A grain merchant in northeast Illinois told me that farmers in his area are generally 80%-90% sold on beans and 50%-60% sold on corn. "There is a lot of old-crop corn to move off the farm yet. Unpriced, farm-stored beans are hard to find right now. Most sold beans early to create cash flow needs this winter."

PRODUCERS WEIGH IN

DTN Managing Editor Cheri Zagurski maintains a reader advisory group of producers/grain merchants that she gathers information from on a regular basis throughout the growing and harvest season. I asked her to pose these questions to them: How much grain do you have left to sell? Of that amount left to price, how much of that grain is stored on farm and needs to be moved to the elevator? Is some of it on delayed price storage and already moved?

Mark Israel from southern Georgia said: "I would say that we have approximately 100,000 bushels corn left to sell. It is all stored on our farm in bins. We also have wheat and a few beans, but I'm not really sure how much."

Bob Birdsell of Stanberry, Missouri, replied that he only had a small amount left. "We still have one-third of our '14 corn because we got very little '15 corn planted. We have sell orders in, but they just can't quite get there. It is stored on the farm. We just about got there and they widen the basis out, then the market dropped ... just about there again. We have 20% 2016 corn priced. The beans are gone; about three weeks too early but they are gone. Thirty percent of '16 crop is priced."

Jason, Willemarck, of Baraboo, Wisconsin, said: "I still have 1,500 bushel of corn left in storage. Soybeans have already been sold back in February. Corn I have is in storage at the elevator, which makes it easier to sell when I need to. Yes, storage fees apply but that is small and just easier when I sell. Plus I don't have to worry about getting it to market and spoilage. The goal in mind is to make an average price for the crop as time moves on. That price, though, has to take into consideration all the input costs and storage. Usually by the end of summer I have the rest of the old-crop sold already. I always have new-crop contracts already in place for fall delivery. Again it all plays a role in risk management and I take a long look at the overall price and breakeven point for the year."

Loren Hopkins, Deerfield Farms in northeast Ohio, said: "Here in northeast Ohio, farmers seem to be emptying their bean bins since the cash price went over $10. The elevator I manage is receiving more beans than corn. Farmers are still hoping for $4 cash corn. We also filled a lot of new-crop bean targets over $10."

"This is a hot topic as far as what is left in the country," Luken told me. "Railroads call and ask, grain buyers calling and asking, newspapers calling and asking ... everyone wants to know when old crop will hit the road. Here it is almost the end of May, corn is in, beans being put in and only 45-60 days from harvest. I still feel we will get some big movements in June."

It appears that most of the industry is anticipating the same thing. But for now, until farmers are done with all of their planting, it is a waiting game.

Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @MaryCKenn

(CZ/AG)