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Market Plus: Oct 31, 2008: Virgil Robinson, Pioneer Hi-Bred International

posted on October 31, 2008

Market Plus: Oct 31, 2008: Virgil Robinson, Pioneer Hi-Bred International Pearson: Welcome to the Friday, October 31, 2008 version of Market Plus, glad you've joined us. Our guest this week one of our veteran market analysts, Virgil Robinson. Always good to have Virgil with us. It's corn and soybean season, people are pulling across the scales, they're checking yields, they're trying to figure out prices, they're trying to get it done for the 2008 crop season and they're turning to price and outlook and what's ahead for next year. Higher input costs really haven't abated very much despite crude oil coming down. A lot of people are wondering about 2009 and what's in store for corn and beans. What are your thoughts going into next year?

Robinson: I think it's important that we all to the best of our abilities put together a crop budget and maybe that crop budget dictates our behavior in contrast to us trying to project where prices might be several months down the road because frankly that is a big, big call, a tough call. I think we'll revert back just for a moment to '08 here to make a point or two. Again, the models that I am privileged to see and be involved with are suggesting at this point in the data collection that corn yields will probably move higher than what the USDA is projecting or has just recently projected and the same argument, although not quite as convincing, could be made in soybeans. So, if in fact that is true and we do in corn pair demand as mentioned earlier it is likely we could in fact see about the same planted corn acreage next season and move through that season without significant trauma assuming normal yield. Now, in soybeans the equation is a little tighter in as much as we didn't mention the Chinese just continue to buy beans unabatedly. It's just unlike anything I've ever seen. Now, the argument surfaces are they buying them here in the front end of the crop year only to find that as time passes they buy significantly fewer? Well, that remains to be seen. I don't know. But, again, if we would increase soybean acres next season by a million acres or fractionally above that, tack on a trend line yield assuming our carry in is something near 170 or 180 million bushel, again, we could in fact dispel this major concern about having too little supply one year from now. So, that leads me back to this idea to the best of your ability sit down, put together a crop budget and let margin kind of dictate your marketing strategy aside from trying to pick highs and lows which we have discovered here the last several months is a very, very difficult task.

Pearson: No question about it. Acreage battle looming based on what you're seeing right now?

Robinson: Well, no. My explanation apparently didn't make it very clear. It would seem to me with the acreage base here in '08 we needn't increase it significantly but rather depend on trend line yield and some of the assumptions we have made about disappearance in '08, '09 regarding corn as well as in soybeans. And the balance sheets aren't nearly as inhibiting as they were 30 days ago.

Pearson: That's true and who knows it could get more so as we go forward. Talk about soybeans a little bit more. You talked about South America on the show and you talked about obviously some producers who are looking now to maybe lock in some higher costs already for next year are looking maybe out to next year. What are your thoughts on that in terms of 2009 and making some sales?

Robinson: In terms of a price, Mark?

Pearson: In terms of an option strategy or something maybe getting some coverage out there, a percentage?

Robinson: The soybean market has I think the opportunity in the next couple of weeks for some additional improvement and if in fact that develops it might open the opportunity for some type of option strategy as you aforementioned regarding that 2009 futures contract. Now, clearly the premium will be awfully high but nonetheless it would provide I think peace of mind, the opportunity to evaluate what transpires in this crazy environment for the next several months and give you perhaps the opportunity to make some decisions that you would normally defer with some type of price floor in place. So, peace of mind has to be worth something and in this case an option premium while pricy perhaps fits that bill.

Pearson: Just a little insurance. As usual Virgil Robinson some great insights, we appreciate it, thank you so much. That's going to wrap up our Market Plus for this week. From all of us here on Market to Market, I'm Mark Pearson. Have a great week.

Tags: agriculture commodity prices markets news