Category: Wheat

15 Jan 2021

Harvest Market Updates: Jan 9 – 15

Corn had a huge boost this week as the USDA reported the US yield to be 172 bu/acre. This was a 3.8 bu/acre decrease from the Nov report that nobody was expecting. The average trade estimate heading into the report was 175.3 bu/acre, so this surprise played a large role in why corn was limit up following the report. This number is low when you think about the past several years of yields and the fact the USDA had estimated the crop to be 181.8 bu/acre in the August report. Now we had some weather events that caused damage to large areas of crops and a drier August, but not to the point that would cause a 9.8 bushel decrease. So, the drastic change over the last few months is a head scratcher, but the USDA does usually leave us with more questions than answers. The USDA also lowered both US and World ending stocks showing why corn has been going up over the past few months, less corn in the world than expected. US ending stocks were lowered from 1.702 billion bushels to 1.552 billion and world ending stocks were lowered from 288.96 billion bushels to 283.83 billion. Tightening ending stocks played a major role in the harvest to now rally in corn and will continue to play a role as all eyes will turn to South America and their corn crop. If their crop begins to struggle or comes out smaller than anticipated this will begin to push new crop ’21 prices up as farmers make their decisions on what to grow in 2021.

Via Barchart


Soybeans continue to go higher as March beans topped $14 this week. Like corn, the report was bullish for soybeans. The USDA pegged yield at 50.2 bu/acre after dropping them ½ bu/acre from the December report. They also raised exports and use while cutting ending stocks adding to the bullish news. Soybean’s news the last few months has been bullish as South America oversold their last crop and are now importing US beans on top of the picked-up demand from China. The USDA also lowered the production for South America from 183 million metric tons to 180.6 MMT. With the current South America weather problems (dryness) this number could continue to go down which would keep the weather as one of the bullish factors pushing the market higher. With Chinese demand continuing along with the imports into South America until their harvest, we will continue to see demand support the market. As always with this time of year pay attention to South American production numbers/weather as changes in those will also have major impacts on our markets.

Via Barchart


Wheat followed corn up after the report this week as there were no major changes to wheat. The news from the report was that the winter wheat seedings report increased for the first time in 8 years. All wheat acres were 31.991 million acres, up 1.576 million from last year. This was also slightly higher than the trade estimate. The Dec stocks number was not much of a surprise as it came in at 1.674 billion bushels. On the supply and demand side, supply was left unchanged while seed usage was raised slightly by 1 million bushels and feed usage raised by 25 million. This lead to a 26 million bushel reduction in the ending stocks , overall friendly for the market. As you can see in the chart below, despite the Nov dip the March chart is still bullish looking back to the contract lows in June.

Via Barchart


Dow Jones
The Dow has remained pretty flat over the last week as impeachment of President Trump hasn’t been a market mover with president elect Biden set to take office in one week. As vaccine rollouts continue to be slower than hoped for, states begin to ramp up their next phase to non-healthcare workers. Governor Cuomo has now come out against another round of lockdowns but we will see what the Biden administration has in store in the next two weeks.

Weekly Prices

Via Barchart

11 Dec 2020

Ag Markets Update: December 5 – 11

Corn was down a little on the week as there was not much news on either side. The USDA report came with a mixed bag of information as corn had minimal loses after it. The US corn stocks came in 11 MBU above estimates, but world numbers came in 12 MBU below making that news mostly a wash. They did not touch many numbers but did raise Chinese imports or corn by 16.5 mmt. Many experts still see 16.5 mmt on the lower end of imports and will probably end up being higher. Corn does not have quite the bullish news behind it of beans, but a sharp up move in beans will bring corn with it. Continue to keep an eye on exports to China and South American weather.

Via Barchart

The USDA report for soybeans came as a mixed bag of news. The US ending stocks came in higher than expected but still lower than the Nov report (190 MBU in Nov vs 175 MBU Thurs vs 168 mil bu expected). Thursday saw a wide range of trading from 18 higher to 8 lower as you can see in the chart below, and settled down a few cents post report. The main focus will now shift to world demand and South American weather as we head towards the end of 2020. In a La Nina year, drought conditions and warm temperatures can cause issues although recently SA weather has gotten some relief. Any surprise sales will be welcome news as well to push prices higher, but if South America has a production problem that will be the biggest market mover going forward until the January USDA report. Many experts are still bullish bean prices heading into 2021. We stand on our suggestion of not storing beans into the 2021 planting season to take advantage of great prices and potentially look at re-ownership strategies if it fits your risk profile as we look ahead to 2021.

Via Barchart


Cotton had a good week boosted on Thursday by the USDA report which provided some bullish news for cotton prices. It lowered production by 1.1 million bales (900,000 bales of which came from a reduction in Texas). Mill use was unchanged, but they raised exports 400,000 bales to 15 million as world consumption and US exports rise. Ending stocks were also 1.5 million bales lower to 5.7 million (or 33% of use). The USDA also lowered world ending stocks by 3.9 million bales expecting lower production and higher consumption. The 2.2 million bale decline in global production comes from the US reduction as well as 1 million bale reduction between India and Pakistan. China is also expected to import more cotton than the previous report. All of these are bullish news for cotton as well as continued drought conditions in west Texas that could cause problems come the spring if the conditions continue for too long. Another bullish factor looking to 2021 crop is with bean and corn prices where they are and cotton prices still trailing we could see acres used for cotton switch to beans or corn in areas where the soil allows. There is still a pandemic raging throughout the world with a second wave in full effect so consumption in the near future may be holding cotton prices back.

Via Barchart


Wheat had solid gains this week on Wednesday and Thursday after falling the previous trading days. The USDA report provided some bullish news with smaller supplies, higher exports, and lower ending stocks with no change to the domestic use. The 20/21 global wheat outlook is for larger supplies, increased consumption, higher exports, and reduced stocks. This probably comes on the heels of vaccines rolling out hopefully easing lockdowns as life gets back to normal throughout 2021.

Via Barchart


Dow Jones
The Dow has traded up and down over the last week making small gains as the market seems to have priced in the COVID vaccine being rolled out in the next week after FDA approval (hopefully) in the coming days. The approval of the vaccine and Operation Warp Speed going into effect could help support this runup of stocks into the new year, however, if Congress can’t get a stimulus bill together, we could see another pullback. There are still many questions about what a Biden presidency will look like for taxes and regulations coming to Wall Street at the start of 2021 as well.

Water Futures
The CME began trading water futures on Monday as yet another way for farmers to hedge their production if they use irrigation. Water will not require any physical delivery like other futures contracts. This will allow farmers to hedge against water scarcity or shortages that could hurt their crop. Read the entire article here.

Weekly Prices


08 Oct 2020


Corn followed beans higher this week as exports continued and Brazil’s weather is still questionable as their season starts. Corn harvest in the US is 26% complete as favorable weather looks to allow for harvest to continue across the country. As Chinese buying continued following holiday, markets are keeping an eye on their purchases as the Chinese government changed laws in what can be fed to hog herds as they continue to recover from ASF. By not allowing for swill (food waste and garbage) to be fed to hogs anymore the demand for corn and meal for feed looks to increase, but it is hard to tell how much swill feed will need to be replaced. Ethanol demand has remained lower than normal as the pandemic continues, but with lower demand has also lowered production. The lower production has lead to tightening in stocks to their lowest level in 8 years. If/when ethanol demand rebounds, look for a boost in corn purchases for ethanol use to replenish stocks and meet demand. Keep an eye on the USDA yield estimates on Friday.

Via Barchart


Soybeans kept the rally going this week on weather concerns in South America and exports continued in large amounts. South America remains in a dry pattern that could turn into a drought if they do not get the much needed and forecasted rain in the next couple of weeks to get the beans in the field in some major growing areas. Harvest continued across the US this week as harvest is seen 36% complete as favorable weather across much of the US has allowed farmers to get off to a great start. As China came back from holiday the buying continued as feed demand in China has started to pick up despite herd sizes only being about 65% of what they were before ASF. Fund buying has also continued this week as funds now are long 1.4 billion bushels (about 10% of the expected world production in 20/21) of beans. Prices will once again be paying attention to the USDA report on Friday but do not expect anything like the last report. As you go through harvest we suggest not storing any beans as the market is currently inverted (Nov prices being better than anything in ’21) showing the market wants your beans now. Not seeing a carry in the market makes it hard to hold the beans when selling the physical and getting long futures if you believe the markets are going higher is an option.


Via Barchart


Funds continued to get long wheat this week, with some profit taking on Thursday, helping fuel the rally that other grains have seen. Weather problems in other areas of the world are helping markets move as parts of Russia remain dry and the Black Sea area has been dry but is forecasted to get much needed rain this week. Argentina like Brazil has been dry but looks to continue their dry pattern unlike Brazil. Stocks are expected to be lower in the report on Friday from the September report.

Via Barchart


Cotton prices rallied this week as Hurricane Delta heads toward the Mississippi Delta. The fact that there is still plenty of time for another storm before harvest after Delta worries farmers that one storm may be fine but another would present major issues. Cotton has seen a steady rise in prices since the lows back in April. Exports were good this week as there were little cancellations and strong sales to Vietnam.

Via Barchart


Crude Oil
Crude saw a boost this week as Hurricane Delta has shut down production in many parts of the Gulf of Mexico. This is typical of prices whenever a hurricane is in the gulf as reactions to what may happen is usually worse than the outcome.

Dow Jones
The Dow continues its bounce back despite back and forth tweets from Trump and Pelosi regarding a new relief bill and what it should look like. Big tech stays in the news as Amazon and Facebook are continuously being looked at for anti-trust violations by a bipartisan group, not much is expected to come from this but worth noting.

World Weather
Brazil has been dry causing some delays in planting but some rain this week and cooler temperatures are in the forecast so markets will keep an eye on any changes there. Hurricane Delta barrels toward the US as farmers in the south look to try and get their crops out ahead of any rain that could cause damage, especially to cotton in the Delta.



25 Sep 2020

Ag Market Update: September 19 – 25

Corn was hit hard on the week as grains pulled back from their great run over the last month. As equity markets fell this week with a rise in Covid-19 in European countries, grains followed. Pullbacks this year are normal as harvest gets going. Harvest should get off to a fast start as weather in most areas looks good with no widespread rain, although it does not appear to be enough to delay harvest too much – even as cooler temperatures roll in. The lack of export news on Thursday did not help as this week’s drawback continued, and fell back to levels we saw last week. New sales heading into the weekend will give the bulls some good news, but everyone will be looking to the weekend to see how much progress is made on harvest and the yields we see. The Dec ’20 chart is below.



Just like corn, soybeans fell this week as a pullback on the grains hit them hard. Like mentioned above for corn, beans face pressure as harvest begins and the great weather outlook for it. The lack of any sales Thursday put more pressure on the markets, and beans felt the full weight of it as they will need continuous bullish news to keep them high after such an impressive run in the last month. Friday will be important as the bulls need purchases to continue and the bears are looking for large numbers to come out of harvest over the weekend and lower sales. China also believes they will be able to have another crop in some areas not flooded, so they may look to continue restocking their reserves with a mix of Chinese grains and imports. The Nov ’20 chart is below.



Wheat followed the lead of corn and beans this week as it sunk lower after solid gains the past month. It is still in the same area as it was trading last week so it has not seen near the pulldown that other grains have. Keep an eye on the Black Sea area for any surprises that could give them a boost or further reason to fall as export news seem tired on the market.


Dow Jones
The Dow fell on the week as a market-wide pullback/correction hit hard along with Europe beginning to face Covid-19 struggles again. The tech pullback continues after its incredibly strong run since the market collapse this spring. As we know with any election year, and maybe this one the most, expect volatility in the market along with the 2020 volatility we have seen. The chart below shows the daily volatility/ranges we have seen along with the drawbacks.


17 Jul 2020

Ag Markets Update: July 11 – 17

Despite one of the largest single export sales to China ever, prices for the week fell. After some welcome rains in the past week in areas that were dry, favorable outlook during pollination has the potential to help make this crop large. Ultimately, as yield potential continues to look high, big bumps in corn are looking slim unless there is a surprise in forecast changes or export sales. The crop conditions continue to look strong as you can see in the chart below. We are not near/at record conditions, but still have very strong numbers at this point in the year. A dip in condition would factor into price movement as well, but don’t don’t plan on that for a big boost towards the end of the month.

Soybeans had a flat week price-wise as steady sales continued to China and forecasts didn’t change too drastically. We started out the week with some prices drops, but a solid midweek bounce helped get back to flat as we head into the weekend. Look for any big forecast changes or unexpected purchases to be the only thing to move bean prices in the near future. As world demand has seen an uptick, the U.S. may find more buyers as South America has been so busy selling up to this point, they may have trouble fulfilling any additional large exports.


Large purchases from China gave Wheat a big boost halfway into the week. Wheat did have to give a good chunk of that boost back the following day due to a lack of confirmation on purchases, but any Chinese purchases at this point are beneficial to the markets as other Wheat growing countries are seeing lower yield numbers. As you can see below, markets are well off the lows that we set a few weeks back as Wheat has made a solid rebound. Just like with Soybeans, more confirmed purchases, or any purchases for that matter, would be beneficial to U.S. Wheat.


Dow Jones
The Dow saw positive numbers overall for the week with a few days of solid gains and small losses. Americans continue to keep their eyes on places that are reopening and spikes in major metropolitan areas. Retail spending was up +7.5% last month, but some experts think we may see that shrink as some states have rolled back their opening phases where cases have spiked. President Trump wants schools to open this fall as he sees that as a way to get more people back to work, so the rolling out of back-to-school plans be an important factor on the economy heading into election times.

10 Jul 2020

Ag Markets Update: July 4 – 10

Corn had a choppy week only to end $0.09 lower after last week’s shockingly bullish USDA report. The main price mover this week was the uncertainty in the weather outlook. The weather post July 15th has been in limbo of hot and dry or cooler with some rain. Hot and dry would hurt the crop for the long run lowering yield, which is when we saw the prices rise on certain days. The post July 15th to August 1st period is very important to keep an eye on moving forward as the weather will be the key mover and the August 10th USDA report is worth keeping an eye on. The eastern corn belt looks to have extreme heat and dryness over the next week after a round of rain earlier this week…but let’s be honest, the weather man is only right 10% of the time = changes to the forecast are expected and prices will react.

“Supply side for corn ad beans adjusted due to the changes in planted area, so nothing too exciting there. But corn demand got cut quite a bit. Even so, the ending stocks are below trade expectations,” Scoville says (


Soybeans had a similar week to corn with some up and down price movement after the rally last week. The hotter and drier outlook in parts of the Midwest will have an adverse effect on the crop like it will for corn. The lack of sales to China is are still holding back the market as Phase 1 continues to trail behind trade goals. Like corn, keep an eye on weather moving forward but as mentioned before. And big purchases from China would be a promising sign, but it doesn’t seem like that’s bound to happen any time soon:

Meanwhile, trade relations between the U.S. and China remain relatively frosty. President Donald Trump noted earlier today that relations are “severely damaged” after each has accused the other of mishandling the coronavirus pandemic. Trump indicated a planned phase-two trade agreement is still on the table but is not a priority right now. (


Wheat got a boost this week (+$0.42) as Russia and Europe’s wheat crops look to come in well below pre-harvest estimates. Low harvest numbers from the rest of the world is bullish for U.S. wheat prices as our growing season continues. This boost is very welcome following the last few months of declining prices. The markets will keep an eye on Russia and Europe as they progress through harvest.


Via Barchart

Dow Jones
The Dow continues to move on any news related to COVID-19. A lot of uncertainty hangs over the U.S. and the markets as spikes in cases continues around the country. An important thing to keep an eye on for the markets will be what schools decide to do in the fall, as going back to school is being used as a tool to also try and continue to reopen the economy.

September lumber futures reached a multi-year high this week and are now up +82% from their April multi-year low. The best way to sum up the market place is by watching it print. It was up $48 – $498 since Wednesday. There isn’t enough wood to supply the needs, and mills are raising prices at will. It is a market squeeze that only ends once the pipeline is filling or prices shut down purchase order books.

02 Jul 2020

Ag Markets Update: June 27 – July 2

Corn finally got some positive news in the USDA report this week with planted acres coming in well below the March estimate and below the trade estimate. Planted acres came in 92.006 million which is about 5 million acres less than the estimate in March of 96.990 million. One thing of note from the USDA NASS Farm Labor survey that took place between May 30 and June 16, is that there was still 2.24 million acres of corn to be planted of the 92.006 million. This means that the acreage could still be lower if the entirety of that 2.24 million gets planted.  Even with the bullish acres news there was still some bearish news in the report when it came to the quarterly grain stocks report. Something that is also important to keep in mind that just because 92 million acres are planted does not mean there will be that many harvested. Even with a solid trend line yield north of 178, these acreage numbers should help. As always, keep an eye on exports and weather as the fundamental market movers in the short term.

Quickly touching on the weather outlook, there looks to be heat and dryness for the next couple of weeks in many areas. This will put some stress on the crop and this kind of forecast along with the USDA numbers from this week are the 2 catalyst moving corn higher.

Dec ’20 Chart

Via Barchart

Soybeans prices, like corn, saw a big bump from the NASS report, even though there wasn’t as much obvious bullish news from the acreage report. The acres did not change much from the March estimate of 83.510 million to 83.825 million acres. The trade estimate had it higher, trading at 84.716 million, which allowed for prices to jump up along with corn. Many people think that the acres are higher as a possible landing spot for those 5 million acres of corn that disappeared. Do not be surprised if we see more acres down the road. Soybeans in the long run still need as many exports to China as we can get going forward. The trend line yield of 50 bushels per acre is still in play with the start we have had but like mentioned above for corn the heat and dryness in the upcoming weeks could impact yield.

From speaking to farmers, it seems many farmers who planted in April and got washed out switched their acres from corn to soybeans. We are not sure how widespread this, is but don’t be surprised if soybean acres is higher when all is said and done.

Nov ’20 Chart

Via Barchart

Wheat got a boost out of the report just like corn and soybeans. Wheat’s gains came mostly as a result of following corn and beans higher as the report was not as bullish for wheat. Wheat acres were down 400,000 from the March estimates. It was welcome for wheat prices as they have been on a losing streak the last month as we look towards July for some help. If corn and soybeans continue to find support and prices go up look for wheat to be a benefactor of that as well.

Sep ’20 Chart

Via Barchart

The report was bullish for cotton as well as we have seen a rally because of it. Planted acres were down over 1.5 million acres from 13.703 million to 12.185 million acres. This is also down 11 percent from 2019. Cotton prices got a boost when these numbers came out as many acres were not planted due to a wet spring or prices being too low. Knowing the acreage number now moving forward weather in the major cotton areas will be important to keep an eye on. A tropical storm or drought, depending where, could cause cotton to jump like it has from this report.

Dec ’20 Chart

Via Barchart

Planted Acreage for principle crops dropped 7.2 million acres from the March report, 5 million of which came from corn. The big question is where did these acres go? We may see a lot go to prevent plant as only 3 million acres are estimated for PP but it is possible that a lot of acres were not planted because of depressed prices as a result of loses from the trade war the past couple years and the disruptions from COVID-19 pandemic all could be factors. Click here for the acreage report.

12 Jun 2020

Ag Markets Update: June 6 – 12

The 2020 June USDA Crop Report came out Thursday and contained little surprise for the corn market. The report did trim off some ending stocks from 19/20 as they adjusted for the corn that was lost in ND that was never harvested until this spring due to weather problems. Corn seems to have little news to drive it significantly higher in the near term as there is favorable weather in most areas that have corn already growing. We should keep our eye on the lack of rain in the 7-14 day window as an early lack of rain could effect pollination in areas. The USDA put 20/21 corn price at $3.20, the same as last month, and $3.60 for 19/20. The stocks numbers can be found on the chart at the bottom but, like we said, little surprise. Funds continue to hold large short positions.


Soybean prices stayed steady this week after gains over the past couple of weeks. Continued confirmed Chinese buying along with sales to “unknown buyers”, more than likely China, have given beans the support they need. The buying has slowed down some but as long as decent purchases keep coming from China that will support soybeans. Like corn, the USDA report was pretty much a non-event for beans despite some bullish news. The ending world stocks for both 19/20 and 20/21 were both lowered enough to see some slight gains in bean prices before coming back down to finish trading Thursday about unchanged. The rally over the past couple weeks helped keep the bullish news from moving the markets much as most of the news seemed to be factored into the price already.


Wheat has had a hard week, losing over 20 cents in the July contract. The USDA report was definitely bearish for wheat as the outlook for the southern hemisphere 20/21 growing season was bigger. USDA is forecasting a 11 mmt gain in Australia wheat crop and 1.5 mmt gain for Argentina. There are some trade concerns that the Russian wheat crop may be trimmed which would allow for more US wheat exports. The demand for US wheat looks to be strong for the remainder of this year but when the southern hemisphere starts harvest the smaller demand for US wheat should pull prices down. In the short run keep an eye on any weather problems and trouble in Russia as US spring wheat is off to a great start with 82% rated good to excellent.


DOW Jones
The Dow Jones had a major selloff Thursday as concern over COVID-19 begins to ramp back up. Cases/hospitalizations in some places have started to go back up the last week. This could be a result of the easing of restrictions but many states who have been open are not showing major changes despite a small up trend in cases. The government earlier this week also admitted they made a mistake, shocking I know, when calculating last week’s unemployment rate. They have admitted they were off by 3% stating it should have been at 16.3% instead of the reported 13.3% that lead to a market rally.

Crude Oil
Crude took a hit on Thursday with the market selloff, as it fell over $3 a barrel. This comes as a result of similar reasons for the fall in the DOW Jones as consumer’ optimism about COVID-19 may be put on hold for a little bit. If consumers do not plan on travelling as much this summer and fall anymore and people continue to not go in the office consumer consumption will stay low.

22 May 2020


Farmers in the Midwest are saying what we’re all thinking – “enough of the rain already!” There has been major rainfall, and even flooding, across most of the Midwest including Michigan, Illinois, and Southern Ohio over the past month, and without a drier outlook over the next week, there’s the potential for planting to be pushed back up against the “prevent plant deadline” in those states. Across the rest of the country, planting is still on a good pace and flat prices week-over-week show little news in the markets. Ethanol production ticked up last week but will need a much larger demand to use up the massive amounts in storage. With exports falling within expectations trade looks to remain calm as we head into Memorial Day weekend and the start of summer.

U.S. Soybean planting, like corn, has continued its good start in most areas except for North Dakota. Bean prices took a big hit on Thursday despite a 22-week high in sales of 1.205 MMT with 738k tonnes going to China. The possibility of increased political tensions as President Trump fired off more tweets criticizing China pulled the markets lower after a good week. Along with Australia’s wanting the WHO to investigate the origins of the coronavirus outbreak, Trump’s tweets are another thing in a long line of issues that could come between the U.S. and China’s phase 1 trade agreement.

(Food Business News)

Wheat has seen a boost this week as the Russian wheat crop yield appears similar to last year. The excess rain in parts of the US with SRW has lead to some worries about the crop and the possibility of worsening conditions. There has been a pickup in domestic demand as mills around the country are opening back up and demand ramps up. Keep an eye on Russian Wheat as another big cut to their yield would be supportive of U.S. wheat prices along with further weather problems domestically.

There’s been a lot going on in the meats sector – specifically when it comes to COVD-19 impacting American production plants.

COVID-19 has infiltrated America’s meatpacking plants causing them to slow processing speeds, or close all-together… Converting livestock into the cuts that get to your plate requires massive facilities, intensive labor, and working in tight quarters which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to control the spread of a contagious disease. Without the ability to “socially distance”, thousands of plant workers have become ill, some have died, while many others are too afraid to go to work. The repercussions of the Covid-19-related plant disruptions will impact our food system for years to come. Once the smoke clears, owners of large meat packing plants may look to create smaller, regional facilities meaning consumers can expect higher prices, and fewer choices in the coming weeks and months.

Check out more short-term and long-term repercussions in the rest of our blog here.


CFAP Relief Package
The USDA came out with more information this week about the CFAP Relief Package. The CFAP had scheduled payment of 32 cents per bushel from the original CARES Act and a CCC payment of 35 cents per bushel on the lower of 50% of last year’s production or 50% of your unpriced corn on January 15th. That works out to potentially receiving 67 cents on half of last year’s corn crop. The soybeans payment works the same with payments of 45 cents and 50 cents for a potential payment of 95 cents per bushel on 50% of last year’s bean crop. The math is not clear nor why January 15th was chosen, but those are the guidelines. Livestock is also covered in the payment and information on that from the USDA website can be found here. Sign up starts next Tuesday the 26th at your local FSA office. For more information on how to sign up, check out this video.


05 Feb 2020

The return of the AG

We’ve talked recently about African Swine Flu sending the Hog market for a ride, and that’s just the sort of thing we imagined in our 2019 Outlook whitepaper when we talked about the “return of Ag.” There’s been four straight years of volatility contraction for the Ag markets, and there’s a real threat that the increasingly connected global food supply and increase in the volatility of the weather causes some outlier moves in Ag markets.

Enter Bloomberg, with their Pessimist’s Guide to 2019: Fire, Floods, and Famine, a sort of worst case scenario they imagined where record forest fires, bigger and costlier hurricanes, and hotter and longer droughts unfolded into a sort of global nightmare situation with resulting food riots, bread lines, and all the rest.

Here’s the pretend headline from the future they imagined:

“The heat El Niño released into the atmosphere helped push up world temperatures, making 2019 the warmest year on record. The disruption it brought to weather patterns unleashed floods and droughts, sparking forest fires, displacing people, creating food shortages, and upending energy and commodity markets.”

It’s as out there as you can get – and they even admit that maybe it “…sounds far-fetched” before pointing out that “all of the weather scenarios and most of the policy scenarios described here have happened in the past, just not at once.” Bloomberg references case studies throughout the article where situations like this have all happened before – like the 2011 Brazilian Crop Devastation, and the 1993 Japanese Rice Crisis.

Don’t remember those crisis periods as well as the ’07/’08 financial crisis here in the U.S.? Neither did we. So we looked up a couple of these examples to show how the futures prices were moving during these real-life crises.


1993 Japanese Rice Crisis
Here’s how Bloomberg described the crisis, and the resulting price chart showing prices nearly doubling:

The coldest-ever summer in many parts of Japan had damaged rice crops. Production was down 26 percent from a year earlier. Japanese consumers needed 2.7 million more tons than was on the market and rice stockpiled in government warehouses was less than 10 percent of that.

To make matters worse, in August there were media reports that harvests were still deteriorating across the nation. Some wholesalers began withholding their stockpiles. Rice prices in supermarkets started climbing. Eventually they would double. Because of hoarding, rice virtually disappeared from store shelves.


2010 Russian Wheat Export Ban
Bloomberg explains the dynamic inside Russia which caused the resulting price action:

…the government banned export sales of wheat…
A drought in 2010 had slashed the country’s wheat crop to a level barely above consumption. The ban was to ensure the country’s consumers didn’t have to compete with international buyers for the scarce supply. [But] As wheat futures soared on the Chicago Board of Trade, domestic prices in Russia, a top shipper of the grain, slumped.









All of this is to say – commodity markets don’t care how many subscribers were added last quarter, how many cars produced, or what the Fed is up to. Commodity prices move to their own beat – based on things as variable as the weather, a drought, or a poor policy decision. Check out our infographic on what moves commodity prices.