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COMMODITY INSIGHT

The big buzz in agriculture is that American farmers intend to seed more than 90 million acres to corn this season, the largest plantings since 1944, while soybean acreage is estimated to less than expected and the smallest since 1996. The news was a bullish shock for soybean prices but a bearish surprise for the corn market. After months of guessing, it is no longer a mystery about what farmers intend to do. There is another mystery also creating a buzz. Billion of honey bees are dropping dead across North America and researchers are scurrying about to find answers and save one of the most important crop pollinators on earth. One source claims, "since October 2006, 35 per cent or more of the United States population of the Western honey bee---billions of individual bees simply flew from their hive homes and disappeared." The mystery of the missing bees is called, "Colony Collapse Disorder(CCD). In 1915, a similar outbreak was dubbed, Disappearing Disease and it went un noticed by Congress. Last month, however, the current Congress held its first hearings on CCD with some scientists and beekeepers claiming the situation a potentially catastrophic event. It was noted at the hearings that Albert Einstein, perhaps the greatest scientist to have existed and a Nobel Prize winner once said, "if bees were to disappear, man would only have a few years to live." Needless to say, a swarm of bee jokes made the rounds during the Congressional hearings. For example, "What is a bee's favorite classical music composer? Bee-thoven! What kind of bee can't be understood? A mumble bee! And my favorite; What did the psychiatrist say to the bee? don't worry, bee happy! On a serious note, there was stinging news that surfaced in the recent issue of Science, published April 5. In a new study , it declared that the changes in the earths atmosphere will leave the American Southwest in a perpetual drought for the next 90 years. The study claims conditions in the southwestern states and portions of northern Mexico will be similar to those seen during the multi year drought in the Southwest during the 1950's, as well as the drought that turned the Great Plains into the Dust Bowl of the 1930's. The study was headed by Richard Seager of Columbia University. The areas primarily impacted by the Dust Bowl of the 1930's was the southern Plains. The northern Plaines were not so effected but the drought, windblown dust and decline of US agriculture was felt there as well. And one of greatest of all bull markets for soybean prices took place in 1954, when drought like conditions that existed in Southwest moved into the Midwest during the heart of that growing season. In late February, when corn prices reached a 10 year high, Jeff Wilson writing for Bloomberg News composed an article entitled, "Corn, Soybeans Rise on La Nina Drought Threat To U.S. Crops." At the time, the piece created a stir. Since the article was written, corn prices dropped $1.06 a bushel and the article is now completely forgotten. But here are just a few points he mentioned: **Equatorial waters in the Pacific Ocean are cooler than normal, ..indicating La Nina may lead to a drought. **Until farmers successfully plant the crop and see it growing, the market will find willing buyers on breaks. **Precipitation in the Midwest over the past 3 months is making this winter the wettest since 1950. **If the weather is wet and cool the next few months, "we have not seen the highs" in prices because of the risk of weather delays or damage." **"as record ethanol production and global livestock feed demand are reducing global inventories for a sixth year in seven"... corn prices to reached a 10 year high of $4.501/4 a bushel o on Feb. 16. Those thoughts were were published in the final days of February but they hold truth today. With the growing season at hand and little room for error based on current supply-demand trends, it is too early to stick a fork in the grain complex on the assumption the bull move is done. Regardless of acres devoted to corn or soybeans, final yields will depend on the whims and ways of Mother Nature and just possibly on Apis mellifera, commonly known as the honey bee.

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