A Deeper Look Inside The 2014 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour: Our good friends over at Pro Farmer are going to be kicking off their highly anticipated and heavily monitored "2014 Midwest Crop Tour" this next week. Our buddy Chip Flory will be heading up the Western leg of the tour and Brian Grete will be leading the Eastern leg of the tour. Since social media has become such a driving force in the market, I felt it was important to play this out a bit. Below are my thoughts and a few inside details:
My Thoughts Regarding "The Western Leg of the Tour"
Sunday participants gather in Sioux Falls, SD to begin the tour.
Day #1 - Monday the tour heads from Sioux Falls, SD southwest to Grand Island, NE. I'm thinking the tour won't start far enough east to see much of the major flooding and won't go far enough west to see much of the hail damage on Day #1. This might leave the bulls a bit disappointed as the Tour tweets about record yields in various locations. The nightly meeting will be held at Grand Island, NE Riverside Golf Club, 2820 Riverside Dr. Grand Island, NE 6880
Day #2 - Tuesday the tour heads from Grand Island, NE southeast to Nebraska City, NE. I'm thinking this might end up being the most promising leg of the Western tour, not far enough north to see the hail and storm damage, and not far enough west to see the non-irrigated dry land problems. Hence, there could be some mammoth irrigated yield numbers being tweeted and talked about. The nightly meeting will be held at Arbor Day Farm/Lied Conf. Ctr 2700 Sylvan Rd Nebraska, City, NE 68410
Day #3 - Wednesday the tour heads from Nebraska City, NE northeast to Spencer, IA - This part of the tour could go either way just depending on the various samplings. You could start to see some flood, high wind and hail damage in NE and once you get up towards Spencer, IA there might be some disappointment as well. There are some areas up in northwestern IA that have taken a bit off the top-end because of conditions being a little dry. My point is, some folks might be looking for huge record yields during this leg of the tour, but I bet when you add it all up its not overly impressive. Could be some disappointment. The nightly meeting will be held at Clay County Events Ctr, 800 West 18th St. Spencer, IA 51301
Final Day #4 - Thursday the tour heads from Spencer, IA northeast to Rochester, MN - I'm thinking the crop is going to look fairly good but well behind schedule. There are some talks many parts of MN might not see corn black layer until early to mid-Oct. The problem with that is they generally tend to see a freeze by mid to late-Sept. Might cap the top-end. The nightly meeting will be held at Rochester Event Center, 7333 Airport View Dr. SW Rochester, MN 55902 CLICK HERE for my daily report.....
Putting it ALL Together... From where I sit, Day #2 (Tuesday) and perhaps early in Day #3 (Wednesday) look as if they could provide the trade with the most dangerous bearish headlines. The beginning of Day #1 and the majority of the Final Day #4 (as the tour moves from IA into MN) may end up being a bit of a disappoint. This final leg this years might show some extreme variability amongst fields, but overall one that is MUCH later developing (some areas 30-days behind). Remember the Western Leg will be in NW Iowa during the second half of Day # 3 and the first part of Day #4. This is where producers got a ton of rain in June then the spigot shutoff until just recently. This means the fields where producers put ALL the nitrogen on before the corn came up are going to be much worse than the fields where producers waited to apply half the nitrogen after the corn came up. Similar type story for Day #4 on the Eastern Leg of the Tour. My hunch is they see more extreme variability as some areas in NE Iowa have been much drier than normal. My fear is that tour participants, after rolling out of the bin busting areas during Day #2 and parts of Day #3, may feel a bit of a let down or disappointment into the final home stretch. If these assumptions are correct, you might see the market pressured as we digest the big social media data Day #2 and into Day #3, then bounce a bit after the final numbers are released and some of the shorts decide to cover. In fact, if we get some major downside pressure I might even start peeling off a few of our longer-term hedges that we have been parked in for downside protection. Bottom-line, I'm still thinking a national yield right around 170 makes the most sense. The guys who are talking 175 plus still seem a bit too high for me. My contention is to get the US average yield at or north of 175, you will need to see the #1 corn producing state of Iowa averaging closer to 200 bushels per acre. Right now the USDA has them pegged about right at around 185-187 bushels per acre, which I believe is close. There are some areas that could struggle moving forward without a steady stream of additional moisture. In fact I see no way the areas in NE Iowa will harvest the record yields they recorded last year. Hence I'm not thinking Iowa really blows it out of the water. The state of Illinois is obviously very good right now (especially in Central Illinois), but since the state runs more north to south there is a much larger variable in soil types and conditions. My fear is some of the southern areas are not having the same bin busting record crops like the guys in the central part of the state. There are also a few other pocket areas that the Tour won't be getting into that are less than ideal. Moral of the story, yes the USDA may still need to push yields higher, but I'm not so sure we get much over 170 once the dust settles and the smoke clears. In fact I'm starting to think we are going to need really good finishing weather to pull of the 170-172 type yield that so many are currently trading. Any wrinkles in the sheets and I'm thinking the yield is less. Does this mean we have reached a bottom in price? I doubt it, but it does mean we might be close to hearing or seeing the highest yield estimates of the season already revealed. *If you plan on attending the nightly meetings, just remember the reception generally starts around5:30pm; Dinner at around 6:30pm; and the Tour presentations will start around7:15pm (hoping to end around 9:00pm). CLICK HERE for my daily report....