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Burgeoning demand, coupled with last year’s Russian grain crisis, floods in China and Pakistan, dry weather in Argentina, and other crop adversities have sharply reduced supplies of major agricultural commodities, pointing to “a need for more planted acres in 2011,” says Steve Freed. Barring another meltdown in the economy, commodity prices “probably won’t trade much below current levels” near term, says Freed, vice president of commodity market research for ADM Investor Services, who gave his insight on grain markets at the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s Winter Commodity Conference.
Analysts looking for more grain acres
“We already know farmers have planted 4 million more wheat acres, but analysts are saying we could see 4 million more acres of corn, they’re talking about 2 million more cotton acres, and are saying we probably need at least 2 million more soybean acres. I don’t think it quite adds up that we’ll see that many more acres. The next big USDA report is at the end of March, when we will get planting intentions.
“Looking at cotton, it’s really interesting to see a market that has had its highest price since the Civil War. The question is whether we’ll have enough supply to meet demand, and the perception is that the cotton market still has price potential.
“I personally have not recommended selling any 2011 corn yet,” Freed says. “I think $6.25 is where I’ll start selling. I also haven’t sold any 2011 soybeans; $13 beans is going to be a good sale for me. I think if you don’t sell beans at $13, you’re playing more of a speculative game than locking in some kind of profit.”
Demand for commodities by China will be a significant influence on markets, Freed says. “When I visited there, I came away with these key impressions: They’re going to continue to buy commodities; 70 percent of Chinese farm land is irrigated, with an average farm size of 7 acres; and they do not believe they have enough water to grow enough crops to satisfy growing demand and that at some point they will become a net importer of food.