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From the Editor

RSS By: Brian Grete, Pro Farmer

Pro Farmer Editor Brian Grete takes time to talk with Pro Farmer Members about some of the key issues in each week's Pro Farmer newsletter.

It's July 4th and introducing Inputs Monitor

Jun 22, 2012

Chip Flory

From The Editor

June 15, 2012

Hello Pro Farmer Members!

It's the Fourth of July. I don't care what the calendar says... it IS the Fourth of July. The corn crop looks like it's the 4th; the markets are acting like it's the 4th; the weather is kind of acting like it's the 4th. Therefore... it's the Fourth of July. And that makes this weekend critical to this summer's performance in the grain markets. If you haven't read the lead item in this week's Pro Farmer, here it is again:

Weather markets heating up — Corn and soybean futures are knocking on the door to a weather market. If June 24 weather updates don’t hold a chance for rain in the eastern Corn Belt, corn and soybean futures will knock down the door to that weather market. We’re on the edge — early planted corn fields in central Illinois are starting to tassel and silks will arrive by the end of this week. That’s when irreversible damage to corn yield potential is possible. Bean yields can still recover, but beans would be a willing participant in the rally and wheat futures would “tag along,” too. That’s especially true with what appears to be a “more stable” situation in Europe that should prevent a “risk-off” attitude in commodities this week. But — IF the pattern changes and surprise rains appear in the forecast, be ready to make aggressive 2012-crop sales. Another potential roadblock to a weather rally will be position-evening ahead of USDA’s June 29 Acreage and Quarterly Grain Stocks Reports.

There are too many acres on "the edge." They're on the edge of severe stress and on the edge of pollination at the same time. That's going to lump a bunch of acres into downtrending yield potential by the end of next week if soil moisture levels aren't recharged soon. That's why this weekend feels like the Fourth of July. The "edge" of stress and pollination is normally reserved for that pivotal time period. But we've still got a full week left in June... so the risk to the crop is very real.

As we said in the newsletter, supply-scare (or weather) rallies are normally furious and short-lived. That's why you've got to be ready to pull the trigger on 2012-crop sales in the week ahead.

And we're proud to announce... Pro Farmer's new Inputs Monitor

When fertilizer prices exploded in the fall of 2008, risk on the input side of your business blew up along with those crop costs. At that time, fertilizer dealers were caught holding huge amounts of high-priced inventory just as farmers backed away from the market. That changed the market forever.

Most fertilizer dealers now don’t hold inventory — they send orders to suppliers only when customers place orders (and pay ahead). That change in how fertilizer retailers manage their inventory changed the structure of the market, adding volatility to prices.

And with volatility comes opportunity. On one hand, you now have more opportunity to lock in attractive prices and delivery periods — but you also have more opportunities to make purchases at exactly the wrong time.

After watching the new structure of the fertilizer markets the past few years, many Pro Farmer Members have asked for help in identifying “good” and “bad” pricing opportunities. And now we’ve got the product and the process to help.

Bringing transparency to the market —

You told us you want and need clarity in the crop input markets and to do that we’ve enlisted the help of hundreds of ag-retailers throughout the Midwest. They’re helping Pro Farmer shine a light on fertilizer and fuel prices. We have a team surveying retailers each business day to gather and update as many fertilizer and fuel prices as possible. The results are published online in a way that provides both buyers and sellers with an anonymous method to check high, low and average prices for key inputs.

The price-discovery system of Inputs Monitor is very easy to navigate. Just click on your crop district on the map and it will take you to a page displaying the high, low and average price of the nine crop inputs we update each week.

This is timely and locally relevant information — all price quotes expire after 30 days and each table summarizes your selected crop district and state. And if Nebraska corn growers are curious about Ohio growers’ fertilizer and fuel costs, they can check that out, too.

Our Inputs Monitor price survey already includes more than 300 retailers in 12 Midwest states. As the information gains density and more history, we will start offering charts and graphs for your local input costs in much the same way that we currently show graphs for economic trends and the futures markets for agriculture commodities.

We’re enlisting plenty of help to analyze trends in the fertilizer and fuel markets, and we’ll summarize that analysis in easy-to-follow (and specific) buying advice. It’s tough to break the analysis down to regional advice, but if we see regional opportunities, we’ll bring those to your attention, as well.

We’ll treat the advice for inputs the same as Pro Farmer handles ag market risk advice: We’ll give you all the information, analysis and perspective you need to make a good decision on your own, and then add our advice and back it up with fundamental and technical arguments.

It will be your spot for fertilizer industry news —

Only the important “stuff.” Your time is valuable... we know that. That’s why PF newsletter includes only the news, information and analysis we think is important. We’re a “human filter” for the mountains of news that hits the grain and livestock markets every week.

We’ll do exactly the same in Inputs Monitor. Don’t expect a huge volume of fertilizer industry news when you come to the site, but you should expect to see the news that really matters.

Grain market coverage (with a twist) —

Most fertilizer analysts realize the price of key crop inputs like nitrogen, potash and phosphorus follow the price of corn. More specifically, these input prices follow revenue potential from corn. There is a short lag as fertilizer prices follow corn revenue higher... and a much longer lag following corn revenue lower.

Grain market coverage in our Inputs Monitor will feature revenue charts for each of the major corn-growing states. That will bring some perspective as to what price regional markets will accept without disrupting overall demand for these key products.

Check it out now... for free!

Pro Farmer’s Inputs Monitor service will be free for Members during the next six weeks. Visit us online at to try the service. This new transparency in the marketplace — coupled with Pro Farmer-style news, analysis and advice — will help you manage the huge risks associated with today’s input costs.


That's it for now...

... have a great weekend!

To join Pro Farmer, click here!

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