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Long, Bumpy Road Ahead for Grain Prices

November 16, 2013
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
gravel rural road
  

Markets cycle and looking forward, Jerry Gulke says grain prices are on the downward slope. It’s time to focus on profit potential, over price.

Grain farmers have had some good times in the last few years and unfortunately that party may be coming to an end.

"All markets go in cycles," says Jerry Gulke, president of the Gulke Group. "When there is an oversupply, prices will get long enough, causing more to be used. Conversely, in times of short supply, prices will rise, incentivizing a supply increase."

Hear Gulke's full audio analysis:

 

For example, when the ethanol industry started to grow, the market asked farmers to grow more corn to meet the new demand. "We responded with a 15-million increase in corn acres," Gulke says.

While negative weather events curtailed production capabilities, U.S. farmers still continued to expand acreage. "Now we are in full production," he says. "We did what the market system told us to do, but now that production has expanded in other parts of the world, we have to think about what can come and eat up our extra production."

With an average yield, Gulke says 92 million acres meets our corn needs – not 99 or 100 million acres. "At a reasonable good yield, you can supply ethanol, livestock and exports," he says.

Basically, there’s just too much corn. He says that the droughts of 2011 and 2012 just stalled the price reaction to too many acres.

In looking at a monthly corn price chart, Gulke says we may be sitting at a new plateau. "We may not see $1.80 and $2 corn again, but it is highly feasible that we could go back to where we started and that’s about $3.33 to $3.65."

For farmers who were able to sell corn above $6 and $7 in the past few years, that’s a pretty dismal outlook. According to the current AgWeb poll, more than 70% of the more than 470 votes say their 2014 breakeven corn price is above $4.

See full poll results:

AgWeb breakeven price poll

Gulke says now it’s not about price, it’s about profit. "We’re going to have to start learning how to make money the hard way again – through basis gains, storage gains and being a merchandiser," he says. "Easy money is gone."

Now that the corn and soybean pipelines will be refilled, Gulke says the livestock industries can start to rebuild. There’s also a chance that with these lower prices, the U.S. may start earning back a higher portion of the export pie.

In acknowledging that markets cycle, Gulke reminds everyone that these aren’t uncharted waters. "I’ve been through this a couple times," he says. "I bought land in 1982 and waited 20 years for it to get back to the price that I paid for it. Now the value as tripled." Time will tell.

Read more about the market cycles in Gulke’s November Top Producer column: The End of an Era Starts a New One

 

Have a question for Jerry? Contact him at 815-721-4705 or jerry@gulkegroup.com.


 

For More Information
See current market prices in AgWeb's Market Center


 

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COMMENTS (1 Comments)

PullMyFinger - Chappell, NE
I find it interesting that the only grain price rally in recent memory was during the government shutdown when the USDA crock reports weren't coming out. Go figure.
11:51 AM Dec 16th
 



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