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Market Plus: Dec 22, 2006: Virgil Robinson, Pioneer Hi-Bred International

posted on December 22, 2006

Market Plus: Dec 22, 2006: Virgil Robinson, Pioneer Hi-Bred International Pearson: Welcome, this is the Friday, December 22, 2006 version of our Market Plus segment. I'm glad you've joined us. Mark Pearson along with Virgil Robinson one of our senior market analysts. And Virgil, I don't know where I can go to where I don't go into a conversation about the corn market with somebody. I mean, I can't go through the checkout line at the grocery store without somebody talking about the corn market and whether they're long or short. This market continues to defy gravity, Virgil. We're up again this week, you're talking about those deferred contracts which I hadn't mentioned which had also gone higher. And I want to get to that in a minute but I want to talk first about soybeans and this soybean market. You mentioned South America, talked to a guy who farms down in South America and he's going to plant 20,000 hectares of soybeans, only about a third of it is done and he's going to plant a bunch of rice and he hasn't got that all done yet either but they're not that worried. But he said things are going gangbusters down there. What is your take on South America overall?

Robinson: Well, Mark, I think the sharp rally in U.S. futures from fall to present created a little different scenario, production scenario in the southern hemisphere than what we had talked about during the summer of 2006. All of a sudden there was added incentive and there was some assistance from government sources to grow more soybeans than what we had assumed. The USDA has acknowledged that by forecasting in their last S&D, their last supply and demand that the combination of southern hemisphere production would exceed 100 million metric tons. Now, if that, in fact, is true, Mark, and comes to fruition that's record production combined with the soybean supply we have here in the United States. So, at face value there is no concern about supply at least in the immediate future. But as we've tried to emphasize the market is terribly concerned about losing soybean acres in the U.S. this spring, the uncertainty of what kind of crop we might grow given the fact there's maybe more rust discoveries in the southern U.S. than there was a year ago at this time and weather uncertainties in general. So, that has created I think a premium in those deferred soybean futures contracts that's not likely to abate. So, from that simple analysis could we assume the spreads between old crop and new crop are going to continue to widen? Most likely that's true. The biodiesel dynamic, Mark, is hard to quantify but clearly it is one that suggests this huge supply of soy oil at hand could dissipate and sixteen months from now be preciously small. So, the dynamics of the market, the dichotomy of the market is plenty of supply at hand, concerns and fear of too small a supply sixteen months from today. I don't think that mystique is going to disappear in the near future. I like the prospects of deferred soybean futures prices 2007 and forward, Mark, and I'm not personally ready to finalize the price of any of that production or potential production at this point in the calendar. Old crop beans, Mark, out of all due respect to the strength in corn are probably going to continue to shirttail that market to some extent. So, there will be rallies in old crop beans. On those rallies I think it's pertinent to reward the market with some of your old crop production.

Pearson: Okay, let's talk, we've got about a minute Virgil, corn market has, again, defied the law of gravity. Since the 15th of September this thing has gone up and up and up. And actually we saw something occur which was the demand became more front end. The nearby contracts were taking the lead. And now as you point out tonight now the deferred contracts are coming back and making new highs so that tells me okay this thing is real, we're going to see more demand in '07 and '08.

Robinson: Yeah, I think that is exactly right, Mark and in the last couple of weeks producers have, in fact, moved some inventory to market and captured some of this strength of late. But it's interesting to note as we visit tonight all of the futures contracts, those that haven't made contract highs are right beneath it, Mark. This market is solidly underpinned by demand and the prospect of growing demand over the course of the next few years. I don't sense that that's going to dissipate either. Any production scare real or perceived, Mark, is capable of sending tremors through the market, immediate price spikes. So, I understand the argument of wanting to retain ownership. I don't disagree with that at all but try and do so in as economic a manner as you can without risking "the farm" and that might mean incorporating some simple option strategies to assist you over the course of the next several months.

Pearson: Good ideas, Virgil, as usual we appreciate it. Virgil Robinson, one of our senior market analysts. Virgil, happy holidays. I'm Mark Pearson for Market to Market and from all of us here at Market to Market we wish you and yours all the best this holiday season.

Tags: agriculture commodity prices markets news