Likening the corn market to a teeter-totter, the board may be in that middle zone where it’s neither up or down on one side (bullish) or the other (bearish), but it’s closer to teetering toward bullish at this time.
“The corn market is actually quite a bit more exciting than the soybean market,” said Betsy Jensen, Northland Farm Business Management and a farmer/marketer from Stephen, Minn. “I’m not going to say it’s bullish – it’s not bullish – but it’s certainly not as bearish as soybeans.”
One of the things that the market is considering at this time is the number of acres that will be planted to corn in 2019.
“We started off kind of anticipating that we would have a lot of corn acres planted in 2019, and now, with fertilizer prices going up some, analysts are starting to pull back on their initial acre estimates,” Jensen said. “Maybe we’re not going to have quite the corn acres we thought we were going to.”
The new crop soybean-to-corn ratio is something the market should also be looking at and at this time it’s not overwhelmingly favoring corn, according to Jensen.
“It’s about 2.4 right now ($8 soybeans and $3.30 corn per bushel) and that’s not a huge favor to corn. Plus, there still is some incentive to plant soybeans as well, so the corn market might need to be pretty aggressive at buying new crop acres,” she said. “I say that because corn stocks are relatively tight. We certainly don’t need soybean acres, but we do need corn acres for 2019.
“So, I am still hopeful that there will be a chance to make some corn sales here, especially for new crop, as the market attempts to buy some acres,” she added.
One of the things that makes the corn market a little more exciting than soybeans and leaning toward bullishness is that demand for corn has remained fairly steady. That’s also one of the reasons that corn ending stocks numbers are tighter.
Because demand has remained steady and stocks are tight, Jensen said producers may want to consider the possibility of making some corn sales.
“One of the things I want to encourage farmers to look at is December corn,” she said. “It seems like traditionally we can get $4.25 in the winter. So, if a farmer is looking to price some 2019 corn keep in mind $4.20-$4.25, and if prices get in that range I think it’s definitely a time to sell. So mark that down in the back of your head. If we can get up in that $4.25 range, you might want to start pricing some 2019 corn.”
There may also be some potential for old crop corn as well.
“When it comes to old crop corn I’m somewhat optimistic on basis levels as well,” Jensen said. “We could see a bump in the futures, absolutely, but a bump in the basis might actually happen as well so keep that in mind farmers.
“I don’t know that I would be quick to do a futures fix or a basis fix for old crop corn. I’d be more inclined to look at the cash price overall.”
Right now cash prices to producers is under $3.50 per bushel in most locations. At one local elevator in west central Minnesota regularly followed in this column, as of Feb. 5 February cash price was $3.40 and basis was 39 cents under. October 2019 cash price was listed at $3.47 and basis was 55 cents under.