There’s an old saying around the Chicago Board of Trade’s grain futures pits: Big crops get bigger.
Basically, that means that a crop that looks good in August probably will look even better come September, and that’s what’s happening this year in the Heartland.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture raised its projections for the country’s corn and soybean harvests. While many of us Chicagoans griped about often-crummy summer weather we had, crops across much of the Midwest flourished in the past two months amid mild temperatures and ample rainfall.
This brings to mind another favorite term from the grain trader’s lexicon: bin-buster.
American farmers will pull in an estimated 12.95 billion bushels of corn this year, a 2 percent increase from an August forecast and the second-largest crop on record next to the 13.05 billion-bushel harvest of 2007, according to the USDA’s crop production report. Corn yields will average a record 161.9 bushels an acre, a record.
The soybean crop, already expected to be the biggest ever, was bumped up 1 percent, to an estimated 3.25 billion bushels.
As we’ve written previously, abundant supplies of basic grains are good news for consumers, diminishing any threat of a food inflation surge. The recent slide in corn and soybean prices may not be welcome by farmers, but at least most of them will have plenty of crops to sell.
Up on CKOW’s roof, as in the rest of the Midwest, another growing season is winding down. If the corn and beans look like they’re dying, that’s because they are. But that’s what’s supposed to happen, and in October, everything will be completely brown and ready for picking.
The main challenge at this point is keeping the squirrels away from my ears – the little bastards stripped those suckers clean last year! If I’m successful doing that, you’ll be seeing my harvest results shortly.
Fun corn factoid #5: The term “combine,” referring to the giant contraptions used to harvest grain all over the world, originated because early versions of the machines “combined” three harvesting processes – typically cutting stalks, separating/cleaning grain and storing it in an on-board hopper – into one piece of equipment.
Unlike the verb form of the word, “combine,” in this case, is pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable: “COM-bine.” The same applies for the NFL Scouting Combine, held every February.