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Serving: IN

Would-be Commodity Marketers Sit and Wait

Psychology continues to affect how farmers sell crops.

One Indiana farmer recently told Indiana Prairie Farmer he still had corn in the bin to sell. He nearly pulled the trigger when it was over $4 per bushel last winter, but thought it would go higher. It's a refrain that repeats itself over and over again. Waiting for prices to go higher sometimes results in selling for less.

This farmer's dilemma now is when to let go of the corn in the bin, and when to forward contract crops to be grown in '09. The marketing opportunities at reasonably positive profit margins haven't been as numerous as they were a year ago.

Look elsewhere on this site for marketing information. This column is more about the psychology behind selling. What will farmers do? Some are already wondering if its possible that a wet weather delay here early in the season could give a boost to prices. While it's still April, mid-to-late April plantings have produced the highest corn yields over the past few seasons in much of the central Corn Belt. This planting period, once considered risky, is now accepted as one that produces the highest yields, year in and year out, at least most of the time.

While there's no crystal ball to go to, past history would indicate that the markets might get edgy if this wet spell continues. However, corn yields don't begin to slip on most agronomists calendars until around May 10. So there's still time for the weather systems to clear and a desirable planting period to show up. With 16 and 24-row planters becoming more numerous, and with the aid of auto-steering and GPS-guidance that allows planting at night, lots of acres can go in the ground quickly whenever conditions clear,. The bottom line is that it may be too early to conclude there will be a bump in market prices of any lasting consequence due to wet weather delays.

An article by Arlan Suderman in the May issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer, hitting mail boxes this week, will indicate that the fundamentals for stronger crop prices are in place. What's missing is investors feeling confident enough to pour money back into the markets. How soon that happens may depend on several factors, but overall confidence in the economy will likely be one of them.

Meanwhile, the farmer with corn in the bin waits for a pricing opportunity. Whether or not he should sell soon is likely no clearer than it was in mid-winter when he passed on a chance to sell at more than $4 per bushel.

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