The recent story of the soybean market is “this is something else,” in that producers haven’t seen these kinds of prices for some time.
“Soybeans are incredible. If you look at the soybean market, this is something else,” said Ed Usset, professor emeritus and grain marketing economist with the University of Minnesota. “November soybeans bottomed in the third week in April at around $8.30 a bushel, and today (Sept. 15) we’re having a bad day because we’re off a nickel and we’re at $9.95. That’s $1.60 over the lows of just five months ago and now we’re up $1.60.
“And not only that, yesterday (Sept. 14) the November 2020 contract got up to $10.08 and three-fourths for a high. We got over the $10 mark. That’s a life of contract high,” he continued. “I don’t think people realize that.”
Usset said he had to go all the way back to late November or early December of 2017, almost three years ago, the last time the price was as high was $10.05.
“We just made a life of contract high in November beans. Now today we’re pulling back a bit, but it’s really an impressive move higher,” he said.
Looking at local prices, at one local elevator in west central Minnesota regularly followed in this column, as of Sept. 15, the September cash price for soybeans was $9.26 and basis was -65 cents under. The December 2020 futures price was listed at $9.96 and basis was -7 cents under.
The rally is being driven by a number of factors, including good export demand, some dry weather in some key producing areas like Iowa, and there’s even talk in parts of Minnesota that this crop is not going to be what it once could have been.
“The demand is good. We’re back well over 2 billion bushels in exports. That’s good stuff,” he said, adding that sales to China are going well.
“Also, Brazil is apparently running out of beans to export and is slowing down their export program,” he continued. “And if Brazil is not exporting beans, or Argentina, we are plan B. That’s where you come. It’s not like there’s a whole list of countries you go to in order to get your soybeans from.
“I’m guessing that Brazil and Argentina have made their sales and that’s good for us. Sales are good,” he added.
As is the case with corn where good demand, coupled with some weather related issues, is helping with the rally, it’s similar for soybeans. But with both, Usset said it’s the good demand that best helps sustain a rally.
“Strong exports, strong sales makes for a persistent market,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful rally.”
The rally also makes for some good opportunities for producers who have struggled with low prices and lower demand when the U.S. and China were in the midst of a trade war.
“My recommendation to producers is to say ‘do not just sit back and watch this.’ When you get an opportunity like this you’ve got to take advantage,” he said.
“I’m not calling the high, I’m not saying it can’t go higher, maybe it can,” he continued, explaining that not only are current prices $1.60 off its lows, but they’re $1.30 over the prices back on Aug. 10 when November beans were at $8.60.
“That’s in five weeks. You’ve got to wake up and take advantage of that, make a sale or two and hope to hell you’re wrong,” he said. “Hope to hell you’re griping at that university economist who tried to convince you to get something done because you’ll have more to sell.”