Volatility continues in the grain markets — especially corn

AgweekTV's Michelle Rook and Randy Martinson of Martinson Ag Risk Management talk about the continued volatility in the grain markets and where they seem poised to go from here.

Corn went way down and then back up again this week before finishing about flat to last week, AgweekTV's Michelle Rook pointed out on this week's Agweek Market Wrap , sponsored by Gateway Building Systems.

Weather was a big part of the reason, Randy Martinson of Martinson Ag Risk Management said, with nearly ideal conditions in the Corn Belt and continued drought in the Northern Plains and western Corn Belt. And news from China also played into the volatility, with rumors of purchases, cancellations and more purchases.

Still, Martinson said corn hit "major support lines" and mostly held its ground in the end.

Soybeans had "better than expected exports" this week, Martinson said, and not as rapid of planting as expected. The number of acres planted in 2021 also aren't likely to increase. Those points helped support the market. Soybean oil, though, has been a big part of the reason for high soybean prices, and it has dipped a little along with canola oil.

"I think it's just a little breather in this market," Martinson said.


In the wheat market, it's a tale of two crops. The winter wheat crop looks great, with good early harvest returns in Texas and what looks likely to be record yield in Kansas, Martinson said. Meanwhile, the majority of spring wheat territory is facing drought conditions. Its crop rating this week was the lowest for this point of the season for any year other than 1988, which Martinson said is not year anyone wants to compare to.

"It is one of the worst we've ever seen," he said of the 2021 spring wheat crop.

Recent rains may help with germination and emergence in spring wheat, but it also might mean great variance in crops within a single field, Martinson said. And he said soybeans are the likeliest crop to be hurt by freezes Thursday night and Friday morning, though much will depend on how cold it got in any one place and whether more freezes hit in the coming days.

Slow slaughter pace is hurting the cattle market, Martinson said, but beef demand remains strong as do exports. The slaughter pace appears to be linked to labor shortages. Martinson thinks there will be strength in the cattle market if the slaughter bottleneck can be overcome.

"I think it's going to be a good summer for strong demand, and the exports continue to be strong," he said.

Hogs, Rook said, were the winner this week. That market is inching toward 2014 highs, and Martinson thinks it may get there this summer. Supplies already are tight, and farrowing intention reports appear to suggest that they'll stay tight.

To watch previous episodes of the Agweek Market Wrap, click here.

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