Iowa Public Television


Market Plus: Dec 08, 2006: Doug Hjort, Independent Analyst

posted on December 8, 2006

Market Plus: Dec 08, 2006: Doug Hjort, Independent Analyst Pearson: This is the Friday, December 8th version of Market Plus. Thanks for joining us. I'm Mark Pearson. With us this week one of our senior analysts, Doug Hjort. Doug, it's been a wild fall, it's been a wild fall in this corn market, really triggered the catalyst being the drought in Australia and the concern about wheat prices and we saw wheat prices jump over $5. They've been falling off since then. When we talk about wheat we're always referring on the show to Chicago wheat and that's the soft red wheat market. We try and talk about Kansas City when we're on the show, we never talk much about that Durham market. There's some things going on there that are pretty interesting.

Hjort: Yeah, there are. The Canadian government put out their updated production report this week and they did raise their Durham production a little bit but it's still down 35% from last year. The U.S. crop is down 30% somewhere in that neighborhood too. Durham prices in two months have gone from $3 to $5. They're still inching upward and I'm not sure where we're going to top this thing out. It's going to be a situation to where if there isn't a big acreage increase next year and there probably will be with that kind of acreage but we could see these Durham prices going up to that $6 or $7 or $8 figure that they go to once in a great while and it's because it's a limited market but a very strong demand market and quality, of course, is extremely important as well. So, if you've got some Durham on hand, $5 Durham I can't tell you not to sell it but when you consider that some of your producers didn't have that good a yield last year either you have to dollar that out too and see where that bottom line is. I'm expecting to see some higher prices on Durham that $5 but, you know, that is a judgment call too because, now, one thing about Durham you really can't substitute any other class of wheat for it, some millers will try it and do a little bit of spring wheat in there but that doesn't really work. So, Durham pretty much stands on its own feet and there is a real shortage coming at us here in the New Year.

Pearson: And then there's a consumer resurgence in pastas and so forth which is where that Durham market is.

Hjort: That's right, very popular at the retail level. So, yeah, there's restaurants all over serving that stuff.

Pearson: Absolutely, I just want to get back to one other thing, you talked about soft red wheat, you mentioned on the show it's been wet in the eastern Corn Belt where our soft red wheat is produced, southern Indiana, Illinois and then still dry out in the hard red wheat belt. So, we by no means have a crop made yet but it's still so early in the game. But at this stage of the game with the acres that we think are planted out there could we be looking at some substantially higher production in the U.S. in 2007 if we have normal growing conditions?

Hjort: Yeah, we could. Total acreage increase, 4 million acres for sure in the United States on total wheat, maybe 5 depending on how that crop fairs in the eastern Corn Belt. The crop in the eastern Corn Belt, we're going to have a reversal of the price action next year or could have that. Remember this past year it was the soft red winter wheat, the Chicago market that was just dirt cheap and the Kansas City market started moving higher and Minneapolis followed that and then finally everything had to come on up together because wheat is wheat once you get to a certain point. But you're looking at reversing that now if the eastern Corn Belt crop there along the Ohio River Valley, if that really doesn't materialize. Wheat does not like wet feet they say, you know, it's got to, it has to have rain, of course, and moisture but it wants to dry the soil out and then get some more moisture and it's going to go into the winter just waterlogged. That's not good at all for wheat. So, we could have a shortage of the soft red next year and if the rains come back in the plains there's some areas of the plains where the wheat, hard red winter wheat crop is really stressed going into winter but not a big area. It's not real good in a lot of areas but it's good enough to go through the winter assuming we don't have too harsh a winter and then spring weather is still the most critical for winter wheat. You can come in and revive a crop, it's the biggest weed in the world, you know, it'll just come back from the dead, you know, if you get a good March.

Pearson: And we have saw it happen in 2006 because it looked deader than a doornail in January. So, a lot of speculation again. Doug, some great advice, some great insights, we appreciate it. Doug Hjort, our senior analyst on Market to Market, thanks for being with us. And for all of us here on Market to Market, I'm Mark Pearson. Have a great week.

Tags: agriculture commodity prices markets news