Jackhammer Seed and $20 Soybeans: Only One Unexpected Tuesday Away

Replant 510     This week I find myself contemplating replanting soybeans.  There is no question that thinking about replanting soybeans is much worse than actually doing it.  Having three nights of frost followed by 3 inches of rain has created a potpourri of problems for my soybean crop.  On Saturday I plan to start replanting after one field got froze and drowned almost at the same time.  Its one of the strangest re-plants I have ever been involved in.   Seeing soybean seedlings looking like green petrified wood gave me the clue.   On closer inspection these beans were the first up and got froze for their effort.

Crusting has always been a problem for soybean production in my area.   I farm a very large amount of heavy clay soils north of Dresden Ontario, which always crusts over after heavy rain.   Back in the day, we used rotary hoes to try and bust through that crust, giving life to our soybeans.  It did not work the best and often times just starting over again seems to be the best thing to do.  Nowadays, we simply get the no till drill back out, call Agricorp and start planting again.

What we need are seeds, whether that be corn, soybeans or wheat with little jackhammers on them, hammering away at that crust from underneath, making it so much easier to reach the surface.  Of course, that is never going to happen but maybe some of the companies involved in soybean research instead of giving us dicamba tolerant crops, need to concentrate more on emergence issues.  Or maybe it is just the year 2013 and I have much more to worry about with regard to my crop this year versus last.

Clearly, there are big differences in emergence between the soybean varieties that I planted.  However, in a good year like 2012, I did not notice anything and I will keep this in mind for 2014.  Soybeans continue to have a very big problem compared to corn.  I have talked about productivity and price for many years now, but corn emergence is so much better than soybeans in our colder northern soils.

So I’m having trouble getting soybeans in the ground and out of the ground.  Meanwhile prices have headed north over the last several weeks.  For instance new crop November soybeans are $.80 higher than they were 3 weeks ago.  The big wildcard is soybean acreage, how much got in the ground and how much won’t get in the ground?  Sounds familiar doesn’t it?  In Ontario I expect about 2.7 million acres of soybeans.  In the United States, I don’t know how many soybeans will eventually get in the ground.  Wet weather can cause all kinds of problems.  The market has been so volatile trying to get a grasp of what there will be.

It is like we’re in a nether land of price expectancy.   Last week I got into a bit of the debate about the December corn futures.  It is been no secret that if you buy into the big crop on both sides of the border we are looking at sub $4 dollar corn prices this fall.  That is easy to surmise, especially with the very low corn basis levels we’ve had since last fall in Ontario.  The only problem is there is a crop to grow and there is all kinds of production risk ahead.  My colleagues on twitter quickly pointed out that they expect $5.70 Dec corn again and maybe even over $6.  So I digress.  The point being is that in the next probably 5 weeks we may see a crop price rally, which may be the last opportunity to price the 2013 crop.  I’m just the messenger here.  I’ve got $5 corn contracted off the combine so you know my risk is hedged.  Needless to say, nobody knows what the market will do.  Some very huge USDA reports are coming up.

It’s all so easy if you have a crop.  So with my soybeans entombed under an inch of soil/cement, I better get busy.  I need something to sell, and as other farmers gathered today at the seed dealership it was very telling.  Thinking about replanting soybeans can be like torture, but once you start replanting, it’s so liberating.   Maybe its something like $20 soybeans!  It’s going to happen someday.  It’s only one unexpected Tuesday away.  Maybe that will happen when we get that jack hammer seed.