Category: Cash Basis

17 Sep 2023


The September USDA Report this week did not give the bulls much to work with, having yield come in above estimates at 175.8 bu/ac and increasing planted acres by 800,000. The increased acreage and yield would still result in a record crop of 15.134 billion bushels despite the drought conditions that bookended this growing season. The largest sale of corn to China since April occurred this week as they made a purchase at the lowest prices in months even with a strong USD. While the markets trade the USDA report, the cash markets in areas are telling a different story with strong seasonal basis and poor crop ratings. Combines will get rolling in the coming weeks and will tell the story of this crop.

Via Barchart

Soybeans fell following the report as well, with the numbers coming in close to expectations but not enough to spark high volumes of buying. The US soybean yield of 50.1 bu/ac following the brutal heat over the end of August and start of September did damage to this crop, but to what extent is hard to tell. The soybean balance sheets are tight for ending stocks and any lower yield from here would eat further into it. The soybean crush numbers were disappointing to end the week, but the stocks were low hinting at the lack of soybeans out in the market currently.

Via Barchart

Equity Markets

The equity markets have been mixed the past couple weeks with various economic data coming in including CPI of 3.7%, slightly hotter than expected, for the month of August. The markets will continue to process data now that earnings are mostly done with, and the Fed is unlikely to raise rates again. The soft landing is still in play, but any economic surprises could derail that.


Drought Monitor

The drought monitors below show the change in drought conditions over the last 2 weeks.


Contact an Ag Specialist Today

Whether you’re a producer, end-user, commercial operator, RCM AG Services helps protect revenues and control costs through its suite of hedging tools and network of buyers/sellers — Contact Ag Specialist Brady Lawrence today at 312-858-4049 or [email protected].


25 Jul 2023

Listen: Jody Lawrence recently joined Chip Flory on AgriTalk to discuss current markets

Recently RCM Ag Services’ director of research, Jody Lawrence, jumped on “AgriTalk with Chip Flory” after they both spoke at an event in Memphis for Helena Agribusiness. During the discussion Jody and Chip dive into the recent events in the commodities space hitting several topics including:

  • The war in Ukraine continuing to impact the world grain supply. The suspension of the export corridor and escalation of the war and its impact on markets.
  • Drought conditions in the US at the start of the year damaged the crop in many areas but how much? Is 177.5 bpa still too high?
  • The recent USDA Report numbers and did 94 million acres of corn really get planted?
  • Balance Sheets and the disconnect between them and what the cash market and basis tells us
  • And More

The audio is below to listen to parts of their discussion and get more insight into their thoughts on what to expect moving forward.

Contact an Ag Specialist Today

Whether you’re a producer, end-user, commercial operator, RCM AG Services helps protect revenues and control costs through its suite of hedging tools and network of buyers/sellers — Contact Ag Specialist Brady Lawrence today at 312-858-4049 or [email protected].

02 Nov 2022

So, Harvest is Done, and Your Grain Bins are Full, What Now?

Grain storage has expanded across the country over the last decades as farmers try and time selling to maximize profit potential. While holding the grain until you decide to make a sale is one option, there are several different strategies when it comes to managing the grain. In this short piece we will look at the 4 main strategies and talk about the potential benefits and risks.

1. Hold in bin

As stated above the “sit and hold” method is the most basic and long used method of grain storage. This method makes you long the market as you hope that prices go up from harvest levels over the course of the next year. You are long the market because you will only profit if prices go up, if prices go lower, you miss out on what a sale at harvest could have been.

Here are a few risks that come with this method:

  • Price deterioration
    • If prices for future months is lower, or moves lower before your sale, you miss out on the price difference between harvest price and sale price. There are numerous factors that can cause this making it your biggest risk.
  • Cost of storage
    • Running storage bins to keep the quality of the grain at deliverable levels costs money that will cut into the profit potential the longer it is stored.
  • Act of God
    • While insurance covers AOGs in most situations it is still very much a risk as many farmers face the threat of strong storms and the damage that comes with it.


Now the potential benefits:

  • Price appreciation
    • The price for future months could go higher, by either improving futures prices or improved basis, and you could potentially profit making a sale at a higher price (minus the extra costs of storage)
  • Taxes
    • The timing of sales obviously affects your income, meaning there will always be taxes involved. Pay them now or pay them later…Uncle Sam always wins, but if you can write off against income, DO IT.


These are the basic costs and benefits of this method. While this is the most popular method it does carry the risk of prices falling below your breakeven from factors completely out of your control. Now let’s look at the other methods that involve active risk management.

2. Sell and re-own the board

This strategy is for farmers who do not want to store the grain, or do not have the storage, but don’t want to miss out on the potential of higher prices. You can sell the grain to your preferred elevator (lock in a future delivery or current) and buy futures or options to try and take advantage of a price increase. The downside to this is that if the prices move lower, you lose whatever difference is between your sale and the future price.


You sell 10,000 bushels of corn for $6.50 Dec contract with +$0.20 basis for a $6.70 sale. You think prices are going to go up over the winter, so you purchase 2 March futures contracts at the current market value of $6.60. Your hunch was correct and March futures goes up to $7.00 and you take profit on your trade by selling them to capture the $0.40 profit minus fees and commissions*. This makes your corn sale equal to $7.10 ($6.50 sale + $0.40 trade profit + $0.20 basis – minus fees and commissions* = $7.10).

Now suppose you were wrong, and prices go down. Using the same information above but prices of the March contract go lower to $6.20. This would result in a loss of $0.40 plus fees and commissions making the value of your corn sale equal to $6.30 – fees and commissions* ($6.50 sale – $0.40 cent trade loss + $0.20 basis – fees and commissions* = $6.30).

*Fees and commissions vary by broker

If the thought of large losses of sales scares people there are other options, such as using options. You can use option trades to limit the capital risk using specific strategies (not all will limit capital risk as some will increase the loss potential). These strategies are not suitable for all investors and each farmer should discuss the risk associated with such trading with their broker or elevator where they offer. For more information on options click here.

3. Sell for delivery in future month

Some farmers will store the grain themselves after selling it for a future delivery month. This strategy is used by farmers when the price difference is worth the cost of storage or they like the futures price but believe basis will improve. Historically, in a “normal market”, the future months will offer some premium to the current month for the crop marketing year. This is because of the risk and unknowns that are present in the market.


The March contract for corn is trading 15 cents higher than December. If the farmer can store the grain for less than 15 cents leading up to the delivery period, they would consider this sale to capitalize in the margins.

The other way farmers try to maximize selling for future delivery and storage is basis. Elevators change their basis based upon demand in the area. If farmers like the futures price, but no the basis, they may elect this method hoping basis improves.

4. Hold and sell futures against

The final strategy we will discuss is storing grain, while selling futures against it. Farmers will do this if they think the market price is strong, but the basis is poor, or they are unsure of the price direction but do not want to miss out on current levels. This is a way of locking in the futures price on the bushels while allowing time for basis improvement, but not total price risk. If prices move up from when you sell the futures, what you get paid when you decide to sell the physical grain will make up the difference in what your trade lost. On the other side if the price goes down your trade profit makes up for the difference in the cash price come time of sale.


A farmer believes basis, currently -$0.20, will improve over the next couple months but is happy with a $6.50 price. They sell $6.50 March futures while storing the grain. They were right and basis is flat come February, but the price fell to $6.40. This would result in a final price of $6.50 for the farmer minus fees and commissions ($0.10 trade profit + $0.00 basis + $6.40 cash price – fees and commissions). If they had just made the sale at the time when basis was -$0.20 they would have only received a price of $6.30.

On the other side if prices had gone up to $7.00 and basis had remained at -$0.20 the farmer would receive that $6.30 price minus fees and commissions ($7.00 price at time of sale to elevator -$0.50 loss from trade – $0.20 basis – fees and commissions = $6.30). If they were right about basis and if did improve to $0.00, then the price they would receive is $6.50 minus fees and commissions ($7.00 price from elevator – $0.50 loss from trade + $0.00 basis – fees and commissions).

This is one of the more straightforward strategies as it establishes the price of the sale limiting market factors to only effect basis.

While there are many strategies farmers employ with their stored grain, these are the most common. Each farmer faces their own unique challenges in producing a crop but the decisions about when and how to sell effects everyone. There is no cookie cutter plan as one strategy may make more sense for one farmer than another, therefore it is important to have a plan. Knowing your breakeven and having a marketing plan and sticking to it are how farmers can be successful year in and year out.


RCM Ag Services offers customized risk management solutions for both cash markets and forward pricing opportunities through futures and options.  Contact one of our risk managers today:

28 Sep 2021

Ag View Solutions – Here’s what you need to know about the Outlook for the first week of October

Jody Lawrence, RCM Ag Services’ head of research, joined Shay Foulk on his podcast “The Ag View Pitch” for this week’s market outlook. Jody hits on some major points, including harvest, basis, the upcoming USDA stocks report, and storage decisions that need to be made.

Jody makes the point of discussing what the cash market has been telling us vs. what the futures market and USDA are. Basis has been historically strong while the USDA has not had drastically tight balance sheets showing us some disconnect. Should we expect this week’s report to lower ending stocks as the cash market would hint at?

A harvest update from what Jody and Shay are hearing from their people, both agree that there were many unknown/under-reported issues early in the year that we may be seeing played out combined with the dry and hot finish.

The basis discussion starts with ethanol and how the plants are affecting many different commodities. Currently, margins for ethanol allow them to have a better basis, which forces elevators to do the same to remain competitive.

Should you store soybeans or corn this year? Jody and Shay dive into the margins and spread in the futures markets and basic considerations. No matter what you decide, allowing yourself the opportunity to still participate in the market via futures and options will allow you to not miss out on upside possibilities.

Jody has some final thoughts on the oats market that he leaves us with and what it could mean for the corn and grain markets in countries with major oats markets.

09 Apr 2021


The grains have started to separate themselves from each other as they begin to have their own trades tied to the US growing season coming into view. After last week’s plantings intention report, corn had a couple down days but has climbed back to the post report level heading into Friday’s USDA April report. Corn’s exports this week were better than expected along with news that China may buy up to 80 million bushels into late summer (bullish news for old crop corn). Basis is showing us that supplies are tightening despite the lagging data from the USDA stocks report.   Even if Friday’s report does not show this expected change, will the market believe the USDA or the cash market? Brazil’s safrinha crop is under stress as it continues to be dry with no immediate relief which is expected to cause even more damage to a crop that has had its issues coming down the home stretch. Brazil’s corn production according to this week’s CONAB report is still expected to be a record 4.29 billion bushels despite the stress. The US forecast is dry in many areas as early planting looks to be available across multiple regions.

Via Barchart


Soybeans had a tough week following last week’s rally post acreage announcement. World vegetable oil prices have been falling and have pulled beans down with it. The markets are trying to figure out how to price beans.  ASF in China is still a problem while world demand continues to rise outside of hog feed. US consumer demand coming out of Covid-19 lockdowns has been supportive to bean prices, despite the reopening issues in other parts of the world. Looking at new crop beans, they continue the slow climb higher, as the US crop is expected to play a major role in meeting the post lockdown demand towards the end of 2021. The USDA report on Friday will show the updated stocks and, like corn, soybean demand should be higher than the last report based off continued exports since the last report.

Via Barchart


Dow Jones
The Dow gained on the week as interest rate anxiety is calming down and funds reposition themselves away from tech and into more cyclical sectors following tech’s run to end 2020. The Biden administration announced their plan for a $2+ trillion-dollar infrastructure plan this week that covers many different areas. Investors will keep their eye on the implementation of the plan and what sectors will be the best benefactors.

Cash basis levels in many areas continue to move higher even on days when futures prices rally. The cash market is reminding us that demand is still strong and many farmers have sold most of their old crop, so finding corn and beans is not as easy since farmers have sold with the rally of the last several months.

Weekly Prices