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July 2009 Archive for Chip's Chore Time

RSS By: Chip Flory, Pro Farmer

Chore time for me isn't what it used to be when I was growing up on our eastern Iowa farm. In fact... I don't even have horse chores to do any more!

What about bean yields?

Jul 31, 2009
Chip Flory

 

Chore time for me isn't what it used to be when I was growing up on our eastern Iowa farm, but taking care of two horses in the morning before I head in for work gives me a little time to think about the day ahead. Each morning, stop at this spot to get a feeling for the "tone of the day" - and some attitude about agriculture and the markets.

I was thinking…

... about traders' corn yield expectations.

We spent a lot of time talking about traders' expectations for a national average corn yield in this week's Pro Farmer newsletter. Trade expectations continue to grow with non-threatening weather dominating the forecast.

That, however, does not mean we're in the same group that's expecting a record national corn yield. We can't rule it out... but it's far from a done deal. We explain why in this week's newsletter.

And climbing right along with the corn yield estimate are expectations for the 2009 bean crop. This is where I'm really struggling. Corn and soybeans are two completely different "animals." What's good for one, isn't necessarily good for another. The best example I've got tucked in my mental files about just how different these two crops are dates back to the late 1990's. That's when Nebraska growers were just starting to grow soybeans under pivot irrigation systems. We were on the Midwest Crop Tour and sampled from one irrigated soybean field with plants that were shoulder high -- seriously. The crop looked great and it was hard to figure what those beans would average when we looked at them from the road. We pulled three sample plants from that field, waded out to the road and started counting pods. Those three plants had an average of 10 pods per plant! The grower had watered his bean crop like he was growing corn. In reality, what he was growing one heck of a bean-hay crop!

Now when we sample from an irrigated soybean field in Nebraska, the beans are typically knee-high and carrying something in the range of 50 to 70 pods per plant. The irrigation pattern on the beans now is to nurse them along without letting the stress level get too high, but still putting some stress on them. Then when they start to bloom, these growers give them a good dose of water and follow it up with maintenance watering after that to fill the pods.

The first field I talked about simply didn't have any stress... it had more than enough water. The result: "Rank" beans. The reproductive phase was barely triggered on that crop. Light, timely stress seems to trigger a more aggressive reproductive phase in soybeans, which leads to more pods, more beans and more bushels per acre.

That's why I'm concerned about this year's bean yield. Not only was the growing season shortened by late plantings, the stress-free existence this year's bean crop has led may fail to trigger the aggressive reproductive phase.

What do you think?

 

Another fish story... and acres are "back in play."

Jul 23, 2009
Chip Flory

 

Chore time for me isn't what it used to be when I was growing up on our eastern Iowa farm, but taking care of two horses in the morning before I head in for work gives me a little time to think about the day ahead. Each morning, stop at this spot to get a feeling for the "tone of the day" - and some attitude about agriculture and the markets.

I was thinking…

... about getting back in the office.

I was at the Pro Farmer Leading Edge Conference July 12-14, and then I took my 13-yr-old son Thomas and a buddy of his and his dad to Ontario for a few days of fishing. Some of you know how I do the Canadian fishing trip. I won't tell you the lake we visit... it's too good and too secluded to let out a lot of information. I'd hate to see this spot "spoiled" by too much fishing pressure. And it is secluded... if you don't know the way, you could stumble across this lake, but it takes a lot of effort to get there (even in a truck). But, there's no resort on this lake... we set up camp on an island in an attempt to stay clear of bears. The island is about 4 miles out into the lake, so it's possible for a bear to swim out to the island to take up residence... but it's not very likely.

My son Thomas has to be one of the luckiest fishermen I know -- either that, or he's got a really good guide :). More than a year ago, I told you about the 54-inch red fish he caught on a family vacation to Orlando. What I didn't tell you was he also caught a 12-inch bluegill out of a buddy's farm pond back in April of this year the day before he took his first tom Turkey. To some of you southerners, a 12-inch bluegill might not sound like much, but in Iowa -- let's just say it was the biggest bluegill I've ever seen.

And now... in his second trip to my favorite fishing spot that I've visited at least a dozen times in the last 18 years... he caught the biggest jack fish (northern pike) I've ever laid my hands on. I've caught more than a few in the 38- to 39-inch range... but I've never broken the 40-inch barrier. Thomas landed a 42-inch northern... and not only that, he saw the whole thing happen! He saw the fish come out of the weeds (we call it cabbage), hesitate, Tom stopped the spoon, pumped it once... and this fish smacked it from behind. And even though he saw the fish take it in, he waited until he felt some pressure on his line before he set the hook. Then... well... let's just say the water pretty much exploded. It ran up to the shore, back under the boat, around the motor... it was quite a battle. And in the end, he's got another fish checked off his list of "bigger fish than dad's!"

... about what happened in the markets while I was gone...

Pro Farmer Members at the 2009 Leading Edge Conference learned that when I'm out of the office, the grain markets typically rally. Well... that didn't happen over the last few trading days -- at least not until my first day back in the office. So the question is... why didn't the market rally while I was gone?

Number one... the weather sure didn't do much to threaten yield potential... unless you want to call record low temperatures in Iowa a "threat" to yields. Which, in the long run, it could turn out to be. Cooler-than-normal temps are usually a "good thing" for the corn crop after pollination. But when temps get too cool, the delay in crop development just increases the chances of getting nipped by an "early" frost. And because of the slow development of the corn crop in wide-spread areas of the eastern Corn Belt, odds are bigger-than-normal that some corn yield will be lost to an early frost. (That doesn't mean the odds are "high," just that odds are bigger-than-normal.) But... no immediate threat to yield was one of the big reasons corn failed to rally when I was out of the office.

Another reason... traders were still working to factor in bigger-than-expected corn and soybean plantings and the impacts on carryovers in the June Supply & Demand Report. While the market does move quickly, it still takes time to factor in new information. Price pressure last week was simply some hangover from the bigger-than-expected corn and soybean plantings.

So... why the rally today? Because acres are once again in question. USDA announced they'll resurvey for planted corn acres in seven key states to use in the August Crop Production Report. As we said immediately after the June Acreage Report, Pro Farmer believes the June planted acreage tallies for both corn and soybeans were likely the biggest we'll see this year. That means, very simply, the acreage resurvey will likely show planted acres below the June Acreage Report -- by a bit. I wouldn't count on a huge drop in planted corn acres, but acres will very likely be lower.

... about what makes the new profarmer.com different from other web sites. You know... why you should subscribe to Pro Farmer newsletter to maintain access to profarmer.com.

First, I know what many of you might be thinking: "I won't pay for access to any web site... there's plenty of free sites out there that are 'good enough.'" And you're right... there are plenty of free sites out there, including the wonderful AgWeb.com! But don't think about profarmer.com as the only thing you get with a Pro Farmer Membership. In fact, the Pro Farmer web site is a Member benefit that comes with your Pro Farmer newsletter. If you're not familiar with Pro Farmer newsletter, check out our latest issue.

So... what makes the site different? As I said, access to the site comes with your Membership. That means it's a site where Pro Farmer Members can gather in the cyber-world to share ideas, participate in discussions, and get daily insights from the editors and consultants of Pro Farmer.

Daily services available to Pro Farmer Members on profarmer.com:

News From Around the World: This is an executive briefing produced by PF news editor Roger Bernard each morning. Roger gets you ready for the day with a summary over overseas trade, links to all the day's reports, gives you a summary of the previous day's and overnight trade action and gives you a link to the National Weather Service 6- to 10-day forecast. He also scans The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post and regional newspapers like the Des Moines Register, the Omaha World-Herald and the Fargo Forum and gives you the top headlines from these papers each day to keep you on top of the news (including the spin each new outlet is putting on that news!).

Inside Washington Today: PF Washington consultant Jim Wiesemeyer is the Dean of Washington ag reporters. His coverage and analysis of pending legislation and policy issues is so on-the-mark that farm-state lawmakers are Pro Farmer Members just so they can access Jim's IWT each day. They know if they don't read IWT, they could be caught off-guard on some important issues. If you don't read IWT, the same could happen to you!

From the Bullpen: PF Sr. Markets Editor Julianne Johnston's daily report is a great place to start your day. She'll give you an update on overnight trade and the factors moving the markets overnight. She'll also preview the day ahead, including opening calls for the day's trade. But she doesn't stop there... you'll also find calls for the day's cash cattle and cash hog trade and she'll preview any report that's due for release that morning. (Note: Julianne is on vacation this week, the next "fresh" Bullpen will come July 7, but you can scan what she's done in the Bullpen archive to see what she offers Pro Farmer Members everyday.)

Marketing Toolbox: PF Sr. Market Analyst Brian Grete's daily blog has become one of my favorite spots to go every morning. He starts with "What Traders Are Talking About" where he details some of the things traders are talking about that might not be making headlines... yet. When you see something in this section of Toolbox, you know it's something Brian believes will become an important factor in grain and livestock price action. He wraps up Toolbox with "The Long and Short of it" -- a quick summary of where he sees prices headed for the day (maybe longer).

Your Precious Land: LandOwner Editor Mike Walsten talks the land markets -- values, rental rates, rental agreements, trends, factors impacting the outlook, etc... -- in his blog. He doesn't update the blog every day... just when he's got something important enough that he thinks all of you interested in the land market should know about. It's a great way to stay in tune with the land market and to get a peak at the kind of news, information and analysis he delivers in LandOwner newsletter twice each month.

Chip's Chore Time: You know about this one... but it's on profarmer.com as well as AgWeb.com to give you easy access.

Pro Farmer's Tech Talk: PF technical consultant Jim Wyckoff is one of the most respected chart-watchers in the business... and just happens to be my first boss at Pro Farmer! (Well... one of them... I had a lot of bosses when I started with the company!) When a market makes a major move, this is the spot to go to get an idea of what it means from a technical point of view... and what impact the day's action might have on upcoming trends in the commodity world. Jim doesn't cover just grains and livestock... he'll also comment on the energies, currencies and metal markets in Tech Talk.

And speaking of price action and charts, if you haven't seen the Streaming Quotes and Interactive Charts available at profarmer.com yet, you've got to take a look. This (seriously) is one of the best price and charting packages on the web... and you get it as a Member benefit when you join Pro Farmer. (Note: We're still working with our web developers to improve the site. One of the things on our to-do list is to make the "Grains" page the "default page" for streaming quotes. For now, financial market quotes are the default page. Just scroll to the bottom and you'll find a link to the Grains page. We'll also add livestock quotes to this offering later. Oh - and a "hint" on how to use the streaming quote page. In the morning when you fire up the web, open the streaming quote page first, then minimize it and open another browser to use for your information gathering. That way, the quotes page will continuously run in the background and will pull in quote updates for you throughout the day -- all you have to do then is "maximize" the page from the tiles at the bottom of your screen for a quick check of the quotes.)

All the quotes you see on profarmer.com are from the electronic trade. That's where at least 80% of the volume takes place in ag market trade.

Top Stories: All of your Pro Farmer editors are responsible for this section of profarmer.com. And while it's "just" another news feed... this one is different. We really don't mind if our news feed is updated with one or 100 new headlines each day. What we really do care about is the quality of the news on profarmer.com. The news you see on profarmer.com really matters -- or it won't be on our site. And the news comes with a twist. The top of new stories is just that... news. But, at the bottom of the item one of the Pro Farmer editors might add a note to explain why this news is important and what it might mean to the markets. It's news with analysis.

Weather: There is a lot of weather on profarmer.com... too much to detail it all. But, I will mention the interactive radar at the bottom of the home page. This is the coolest radar map! After you click on the map, hold the hand of your mouse over your hometown and roll the "roller" on your mouse up -- it will zoom right in on where ever you're pointing. And it gets tight... some of you might even be able to find a fence row of yours! (Just kidding... but it does get tight!) Roll the "roller" down, and it widens the view.

That's a lot of Member benefits! Check all this stuff out. If you are already a Pro Farmer Member, you'll be getting your password and ID from us very soon so you can maintain access to the site. If you're not a Member, our "Classic" (subscription to the weekly Pro Farmer newsletter) Membership starts at $189 per year for 52 weekly newsletters and full access to profarmer.com. (More information on all Pro Farmer services.)

Does Congress have time to 'fool' with index funds?

Jul 08, 2009
Chip Flory

 

Chore time for me isn't what it used to be when I was growing up on our eastern Iowa farm, but taking care of two horses in the morning before I head in for work gives me a little time to think about the day ahead. Each morning, stop at this spot to get a feeling for the "tone of the day" - and some attitude about agriculture and the markets.

I was thinking…

... about where we're headed from here -- on many different levels.

I know where I'm headed next week... the 2009 Pro Farmer Leading Edge Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. The focus of LEC is going to be the economy and it's impact on ag markets and agriculture in general. A favorite Pro Farmer presenter will be back to talk economic conditions -- Dr. Vince Malanga, president of LaSalle Economics, Inc. This guy nailed the outlook for the economy last year... including the push for economic stimulus from Washington.

Which got me thinking about the "stimulus package." You know how you sometimes have to live through something -- or at least "get into a scenario" -- before the outlook becomes more clear. We're well into the stimulus package... and there is still time for the package to actually provide stimulus. But now there's talk the "states" are finally starting to use the stimulus money the way they are supposed to. Question... How were the states using the money up to now!?!

But then I thought about the infrastructure spending that has started... and is yet to come. That should help the economy... right? Except for the fact these jobs will be temporary jobs and cost billions of dollars that eventually need to be paid back. How does that help the long-term economic security of this country?

And lost in the economy and a national energy policy and a national health policy and a new nuke treaty with Russia and North Korea's bad-boy actions and everything else a well-intentioned and (overly?) enthusiastic President Obama is tackling is an economic train wreck that USED to be a front-burner policy issue... saving Social Security. What happens when more Baby boomers call it quits (if they can) and turn to Social Security to at least supplement retirement? Will there be "actual" money in the system to write checks -- or will the Treasury Dept. fire up the printing press again?

And with all of that going on... Congress has decided to crack down on speculators in the commodity markets. Is there a need to put limits on how speculators "play" in the commodity markets? Well... it depends on the speculators. You know by now there's a difference between "traditional commodity funds" (these funds will trade on both sides of the markets), large specs, small specs, individual speculators, local traders and (look out!) "index funds." The "problem," if there is really a problem, is the index funds.

One of the best definitions of index funds I've heard is "Zombie Funds." These funds don't know what the fundamentals of the markets are... they don't know the technical conditions of the markets... they don't care. And these funds are long only. They only buy futures... the only time they sell is when they are liquidating long positions. Oh... and they will liquidate contracts held in the front-month contract ahead of the delivery period and roll the long positions out a full year. When these index funds entered the scene, they were forced to trade with the same position limits as traditional commodity funds, large specs, small specs, individual speculators and local traders. Over time and because there was a huge demand for investment in these index funds, the exchanges continually increased position limits to allow the money into the market. Now, Congress wants to limit the positions the Zombie Funds can hold. Which is fine... except for the fact there could be a long transition period in which the index funds are liquidating long positions without rolling those positions forward. That, my friends, will bring some hefty pressure to futures.

Or... should I say, is bringing hefty pressure to futures. The Congressional hearing yesterday that included a mention of potential position limits for index funds in commodity futures was enough to spur a round of liquidation -- and that liquidation probably didn't include any Zombie liquidation. What's happening now is the liquidation of long positions held by traditional commodity funds, large specs, small specs, individual speculators and local traders... the traders that pay attention to market fundamentals, technicals and policy changes that could impact trade. They may be exiting the long side of the market before the index funds start a liquidation phase. I know... scary!

On a side note, the impact of yesterday's hearing is being felt in the stock market, too. The exchanges are publicly traded companies... and the value of exchange stocks are falling today in anticipation policy changes will result in lower volume (and profits) for the exchanges. And lower volume means lower liquidity in the markets. It's going to be a tough transition... with a long list of unintended consequences this Congress will undoubtedly (once again) deny it caused.

... about what makes the new profarmer.com different from other web sites. You know... why you should subscribe to Pro Farmer newsletter to maintain access to profarmer.com.

First, I know what many of you might be thinking: "I won't pay for access to any web site... there's plenty of free sites out there that are 'good enough.'" And you're right... there are plenty of free sites out there, including the wonderful AgWeb.com! But don't think about profarmer.com as the only thing you get with a Pro Farmer Membership. In fact, the Pro Farmer web site is a Member benefit that comes with your Pro Farmer newsletter. If you're not familiar with Pro Farmer newsletter, check out our latest issue.

So... what makes the site different? As I said, access to the site comes with your Membership. That means it's a site where Pro Farmer Members can gather in the cyber-world to share ideas, participate in discussions, and get daily insights from the editors and consultants of Pro Farmer.

Daily services available to Pro Farmer Members on profarmer.com:

News From Around the World: This is an executive briefing produced by PF news editor Roger Bernard each morning. Roger gets you ready for the day with a summary over overseas trade, links to all the day's reports, gives you a summary of the previous day's and overnight trade action and gives you a link to the National Weather Service 6- to 10-day forecast. He also scans The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post and regional newspapers like the Des Moines Register, the Omaha World-Herald and the Fargo Forum and gives you the top headlines from these papers each day to keep you on top of the news (including the spin each new outlet is putting on that news!).

Inside Washington Today: PF Washington consultant Jim Wiesemeyer is the Dean of Washington ag reporters. His coverage and analysis of pending legislation and policy issues is so on-the-mark that farm-state lawmakers are Pro Farmer Members just so they can access Jim's IWT each day. They know if they don't read IWT, they could be caught off-guard on some important issues. If you don't read IWT, the same could happen to you!

From the Bullpen: PF Sr. Markets Editor Julianne Johnston's daily report is a great place to start your day. She'll give you an update on overnight trade and the factors moving the markets overnight. She'll also preview the day ahead, including opening calls for the day's trade. But she doesn't stop there... you'll also find calls for the day's cash cattle and cash hog trade and she'll preview any report that's due for release that morning. (Note: Julianne is on vacation this week, the next "fresh" Bullpen will come July 7, but you can scan what she's done in the Bullpen archive to see what she offers Pro Farmer Members everyday.)

Marketing Toolbox: PF Sr. Market Analyst Brian Grete's daily blog has become one of my favorite spots to go every morning. He starts with "What Traders Are Talking About" where he details some of the things traders are talking about that might not be making headlines... yet. When you see something in this section of Toolbox, you know it's something Brian believes will become an important factor in grain and livestock price action. He wraps up Toolbox with "The Long and Short of it" -- a quick summary of where he sees prices headed for the day (maybe longer).

Your Precious Land: LandOwner Editor Mike Walsten talks the land markets -- values, rental rates, rental agreements, trends, factors impacting the outlook, etc... -- in his blog. He doesn't update the blog every day... just when he's got something important enough that he thinks all of you interested in the land market should know about. It's a great way to stay in tune with the land market and to get a peak at the kind of news, information and analysis he delivers in LandOwner newsletter twice each month.

Chip's Chore Time: You know about this one... but it's on profarmer.com as well as AgWeb.com to give you easy access.

Pro Farmer's Tech Talk: PF technical consultant Jim Wyckoff is one of the most respected chart-watchers in the business... and just happens to be my first boss at Pro Farmer! (Well... one of them... I had a lot of bosses when I started with the company!) When a market makes a major move, this is the spot to go to get an idea of what it means from a technical point of view... and what impact the day's action might have on upcoming trends in the commodity world. Jim doesn't cover just grains and livestock... he'll also comment on the energies, currencies and metal markets in Tech Talk.

And speaking of price action and charts, if you haven't seen the Streaming Quotes and Interactive Charts available at profarmer.com yet, you've got to take a look. This (seriously) is one of the best price and charting packages on the web... and you get it as a Member benefit when you join Pro Farmer. (Note: We're still working with our web developers to improve the site. One of the things on our to-do list is to make the "Grains" page the "default page" for streaming quotes. For now, financial market quotes are the default page. Just scroll to the bottom and you'll find a link to the Grains page. We'll also add livestock quotes to this offering later. Oh - and a "hint" on how to use the streaming quote page. In the morning when you fire up the web, open the streaming quote page first, then minimize it and open another browser to use for your information gathering. That way, the quotes page will continuously run in the background and will pull in quote updates for you throughout the day -- all you have to do then is "maximize" the page from the tiles at the bottom of your screen for a quick check of the quotes.)

All the quotes you see on profarmer.com are from the electronic trade. That's where at least 80% of the volume takes place in ag market trade.

Top Stories: All of your Pro Farmer editors are responsible for this section of profarmer.com. And while it's "just" another news feed... this one is different. We really don't mind if our news feed is updated with one or 100 new headlines each day. What we really do care about is the quality of the news on profarmer.com. The news you see on profarmer.com really matters -- or it won't be on our site. And the news comes with a twist. The top of new stories is just that... news. But, at the bottom of the item one of the Pro Farmer editors might add a note to explain why this news is important and what it might mean to the markets. It's news with analysis.

Weather: There is a lot of weather on profarmer.com... too much to detail it all. But, I will mention the interactive radar at the bottom of the home page. This is the coolest radar map! After you click on the map, hold the hand of your mouse over your hometown and roll the "roller" on your mouse up -- it will zoom right in on where ever you're pointing. And it gets tight... some of you might even be able to find a fence row of yours! (Just kidding... but it does get tight!) Roll the "roller" down, and it widens the view.

That's a lot of Member benefits! Check all this stuff out. If you are already a Pro Farmer Member, you'll be getting your password and ID from us very soon so you can maintain access to the site. If you're not a Member, our "Classic" (subscription to the weekly Pro Farmer newsletter) Membership starts at $189 per year for 52 weekly newsletters and full access to profarmer.com. (More information on all Pro Farmer services.)

Was that worth a 30-cent butt-kicking?

Jul 01, 2009
Chip Flory

 

Chore time for me isn't what it used to be when I was growing up on our eastern Iowa farm, but taking care of two horses in the morning before I head in for work gives me a little time to think about the day ahead. Each morning, stop at this spot to get a feeling for the "tone of the day" -- and some attitude about agriculture and the markets.

I was thinking…

... about yesterday's USDA reports.

Well, we've had a little time to let the new acreage estimates from USDA sink in -- what do they mean today? Was a 2-million-acre increase in corn plantings really worth a 30-cent butt-kicking? Here's a preview of what we'll be talking about in this week's Pro Farmer newsletter:

USDA’s corn harvested acreage estimate is now 80.107 million, up 2.307 million acres from the June Supply & Demand (S&D) Report. At 153.4 bu. per acre, the acreage increase adds 353.9 million bushels to 2009 corn crop potential. At USDA's harvested acres and USDA's June yield projection, the crop outlook stands at 12.288 billion bushels. Pro Farmer is currently looking for 2009-10 total corn use of about 12.6 billion bushels, so USDA currently sees a crop about 400 million bushels short of what Pro Farmer sees for new-crop demand. Translation... 2009-10 corn carryover (based on what we know right now) is still headed down. (Price translation... adding 350-million-bushels-plus to the crop outlook probably was worth a 30-cent butt-kicking! But with that out of the way, the market should now refocus on new-crop fundamentals... and on figuring out just what yields will be in 2009.)

USDA’s bean harvested acreage estimate is now 76.547 million, up 1.547 million from the June S&D Report. At 42.6 bu. per acre, the acreage increase adds 65.9 million bushels to 2009 soybean crop potential. At USDA's harvested acres and USDA's June yield projection, the crop outlook stands at 3.261 billion bushels. Pro Farmer is currently looking for 2009-10 total soybean use of about 3.1 billion bushels, so USDA currently sees a crop about 150 million bushels bigger than what Pro Farmer sees for new-crop demand. Translation... 2009-10 bean carryover (based on what we know right now) is still headed sharply higher.

 

... about what makes the new profarmer.com different from other Web sites. You know... why you should subscribe to Pro Farmer newsletter to maintain access to profarmer.com.

First, I know what many of you might be thinking: "I won't pay for access to any Web site... there's plenty of free sites out there that are 'good enough.'" And you're right... there are plenty of free sites out there, including the wonderful AgWeb.com! But don't think about profarmer.com as the only thing you get with a Pro Farmer Membership. In fact, the Pro Farmer Web site is a Member benefit that comes with your Pro Farmer newsletter. If you're not familiar with Pro Farmer newsletter, check out our latest issue.

So... what makes the site different? As I said, access to the site comes with your Membership. That means it's a site where Pro Farmer Members can gather in the cyber-world to share ideas, participate in discussions, and get daily insights from the editors and consultants of Pro Farmer.

Daily services available to Pro Farmer Members on profarmer.com:

News from Around the World: This is an executive briefing produced by PF news editor Roger Bernard each morning. Roger gets you ready for the day with a summary of overseas trade, links to all the day's reports, a summary of the previous day's and overnight trade action and a link to the National Weather Service 6- to 10-day forecast. He also scans the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post and regional newspapers like the Des Moines Register, the Omaha World-Herald and the Fargo Forum and gives you the top headlines from these papers each day to keep you on top of the news (including the spin each new outlet is putting on that news!).

Inside Washington Today: PF Washington consultant Jim Wiesemeyer is the dean of Washington ag reporters. His coverage and analysis of pending legislation and policy issues is so on-the-mark that farm-state lawmakers are Pro Farmer Members just so they can access Jim's IWT each day. They know if they don't read IWT, they could be caught off-guard on some important issues. If you don't read IWT, the same could happen to you!

From the Bullpen: PF Senior Markets Editor Julianne Johnston's daily report is a great place to start your day. She'll give you an update on overnight trade and the factors moving the markets overnight. She'll also preview the day ahead, including opening calls for the day's trade. But she doesn't stop there... you'll also find calls for the day's cash cattle and cash hog trade and she'll preview any report that's due for release that morning. (Note: Julianne is on vacation this week. The next "fresh" Bullpen will come July 7, but you can scan what she's done in the Bullpen archive to see what she offers Pro Farmer Members every day.)

Marketing Toolbox: PF Senior Market Analyst Brian Grete's daily blog has become one of my favorite spots to go every morning. He starts with "What Traders Are Talking About," where he details some of the things traders are focusing on that might not be making headlines... yet. When you see something in this section of Toolbox, you know it's something Brian believes will become an important factor in grain and livestock price action. He wraps up Toolbox with "The Long and Short of It" -- a quick summary of where he sees prices headed for the day (maybe longer).

Your Precious Land: LandOwner Editor Mike Walsten talks the land markets -- values, rental rates, rental agreements, trends, factors impacting the outlook, etc... -- in his blog. He doesn't update the blog every day... just when he's got something important enough that he thinks all of you interested in the land market should know about. It's a great way to stay in tune with the land market and to get a peek at the kind of news, information and analysis Mike delivers in LandOwner newsletter twice each month.

Chip's Chore Time: You know about this one... but it's on profarmer.com as well as AgWeb.com to give you easy access.

Pro Farmer's Tech Talk: PF technical consultant Jim Wyckoff is one of the most respected chart-watchers in the business... and just happens to be my first boss at Pro Farmer! (Well... one of them... I had a lot of bosses when I started with the company!) When a market makes a major move, this is the spot to go to get an idea of what it means from a technical point of view... and what impact the day's action might have on upcoming trends in the commodity world. Jim doesn't cover just grains and livestock... he'll also comment on the energies, currencies and metal markets in Tech Talk.

And speaking of price action and charts, if you haven't seen the Streaming Quotes and Interactive Charts available at profarmer.com yet, you've got to take a look. This (seriously) is one of the best price and charting packages on the Web... and you get it as a Member benefit when you join Pro Farmer. (Note: We're still working with our Web developers to improve the site. One of the things on our to-do list is to make the "Grains" page the "default page" for streaming quotes. For now, financial market quotes are the default page. Just scroll to the bottom and you'll find a link to the Grains page. We'll also add livestock quotes to this offering later. Oh -- and a "hint" on how to use the streaming quote page. In the morning when you fire up the Web, open the streaming quote page first, then minimize it and open another browser to use for your information gathering. That way, the quotes page will continuously run in the background and will pull in quote updates for you throughout the day -- all you have to do then is "maximize" the page from the tiles at the bottom of your screen for a quick check of the quotes.)

All the quotes you see on profarmer.com are from the electronic trade. That's where at least 80% of the volume takes place in ag market trade.

Top Stories: All of your Pro Farmer editors are responsible for this section of profarmer.com. And while it's "just" another news feed... this one is different. We really don't mind if our news feed is updated with one or 100 new headlines each day. What we really do care about is the quality of the news on profarmer.com. The news you see on profarmer.com really matters -- or it won't be on our site. And the news comes with a twist. The top of news stories is just that... news. But, at the bottom of the item one of the Pro Farmer editors might add a note to explain why this news is important and what it might mean to the markets. It's news with analysis.

Weather: There is a lot of weather on profarmer.com... too much to detail it all. But I will mention the interactive radar at the bottom of the home page. This is the coolest radar map! After you click on the map, hold the hand of your mouse over your hometown and roll the "roller" on your mouse up -- it will zoom right in on wherever you're pointing. And it gets tight... some of you might even be able to find a fence row of yours! (Just kidding... but it does get tight!) Roll the "roller" down, and it widens the view.

That's a lot of Member benefits! Check all this stuff out. If you are already a Pro Farmer Member, you'll be getting your password and ID from us very soon so you can maintain access to the site. If you're not a Member, our "Classic" (subscription to the weekly Pro Farmer newsletter) Membership starts at $189 per year for 52 weekly newsletters and full access to profarmer.com. (More information on all Pro Farmer services.)

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