From The Editor
March 22, 2013
Hello Pro Farmer Members!
Don't say the 2013 growing season is off to a "late start" -- yet. But it sure feels late after 2011's early start and 2012's ultra-early start. I was in Ontario this week visiting with the guys at Southwest Ag Partners and the farmers I talked with expect to get started in about 2 weeks. Here in northeast Iowa, conditions could be absolutely perfect for the next two weeks and I don't think we'd see much activity in the field; three weeks of really good conditions would probably get the activity started.
There's also growing consensus in the market that much of the drought from last year is over for the central and eastern Corn Belt, but still in place in the western Belt. That's exactly right on the western Belt, but the central Belt (Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri) are still very dry. And the rain that Iowa saw March 9-10 didn't do as much good as the market seems to think. I left northeast Iowa on March 9 and drove in rain almost all the way to Oklahoma City. The rains were clearly soaking in the further south I traveled, but when I returned home on March 15, the first think I noticed were farm ponds that were overflowing and creeks and rivers that were running nearly bank full. Just one week later, the level of the Cedar River is falling again... and falling fairly quickly. That tells me a lot of the rain we saw March 9 ran off and didn't get a chance to soak into the frozen ground. We've still got some dry-soil problems to fix in Iowa before I'll start to get comfortable with crop prospects this year.
We've got big reports coming next week. The Quarterly Grain Stocks Report will give us a better idea of just how quickly we're using up the 2012 corn, soybean and wheat crops. The Prospective Plantings Report will give us the first survey-based estimate of 2013 plantings. Informa Economics released its updated plantings estimates this morning and the corn acreage estimate was a bit surprising. Compared to the Memphis-based consulting firm's January estimate, Informa reportedly cut the corn planting peg by 1.6 million acres. It now sees plantings up just 600,000 from last year. We've been working with a corn planted acreage estimate of 98 million for several weeks.
The Informa estimate, and other slight-increase-from-year-ago estimates, might make it difficult to get a bullish estimate from USDA next Friday. And it will probably be tough to get a bullish stocks estimate for corn, too. The reason has been well documented -- we're just not using corn very quickly and in the last three months, livestock feeders have been using alternative feeds.
If you haven't checked out My Grain Trades on your homepage yet, please do that this weekend. This is an exceptionally valuable tool that will help simplify your marketing efforts in the year ahead. Click here to go to the introductory page. It's a free service for Pro Farmer Members that helps you keep track of your grain sales and figures your profit potential on the fly. Just check it out...
Pro Farmer's Marketing Education Series is also now available. It is what the title suggests... a series of workbooks designed to help you make better marketing decisions. Click on the link to learn more about this new project we're putting together.
That's it for now...
I'll be in Jackson, Minnesota, on Tuesday, March 26. If you're coming to the meeting... we'll see you there!
Follow me on Twitter at @ChipFlory
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