November 6, 2008

Major storm threatens unharvested US crops


A major autumn storm system gathering strength over South Dakota was already disrupting fall grain harvest with western snow and rain throughout the western Corn Belt and northern/central Great Plains Wednesday (November 5).


"The storm system is still in the process of getting organized right now," said Freese-Notis Weather. "By this afternoon though, we will see the storm really start to get its act together, with a line of strong or severe thunderstorms forming near the Missouri River, and heavy snow starting to break out in the western Dakotas."


Although general rains of 0.50-1.50 inch are expected to halt fall harvest in much of Iowa/Minnesota, the storm is likely to have its single-greatest impact on agriculture in the Dakotas.


"Blizzard watches and warnings are posted for central/western South Dakota and southwestern North Dakota, with winter storm watches for the rest of those states except for the Far East," said the service. "By tomorrow morning there could very well be a foot of snow on the ground in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the same could be said for northeastern South Dakota and eastern North Dakota by Friday morning."


High winds of over 40 miles per hour are expected to accompany the snow, threatening unharvested crops.


"With huge amounts of corn still in the field in the area in question - and with soils there already exceptionally wet - this storm is the last thing that area needs to see," aid Freese-Notis. "The ground may need to freeze up - thus making it able to support heavy machinery - before a lot of the corn is ever able to be harvested."


Domestic basis premiums were mixed, with daily averages dipping fractionally for corn/grain sorghum/soft red winter wheat, while rising slightly for soy/HRW wheat.


The most dramatic basis fluctuation - an average strengthening of 5 3/4 cents per bushel - occurred in the spring wheat sector.


Benson Quinn Commodities pointed out that cash hard red spring wheat has seen, "little country movement, due to corn and soy harvest," which is currently dominating logistics within the national supply pipeline. Receipts of wheat at the bellwether HRS terminal market of Minnneapolis have totaled less than 200 carlots so far this week, down 18 percent from year-ago levels.


US grain futures were generally firm overnight, registering cash-contract gains of around 2 cents each for corn/oats and wheat. However, November CBOT soy contracts closed 2 1/2 cents lower.


National average farmgate prices for soy and all classes of spring/winter wheat currently stand at 3- to 4-week highs. Cash prices also reside at 1-week highs, in the case of corn.


National cash price indices maintained at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange currently stand at US$8.87 for soy, indicating an average basis of -62 1/2 cents relative to the Tuesday settlement of Nov CBOT soy futures. Domestic cash prices also average US$3.77 1/4 for corn (-35 3/4 cents basis Dec CBOT corn), US$5.38 1/2 for hard red winter wheat (-70 1/2 cents basis KCBT Dec wheat), US$3.91 1/2 for soft red winter wheat (-$1.81 basis CBOT Dec wheat) and US$6.61 3/4 for hard red spring wheat (-6 1/4 cents basis MGEX Dec wheat futures).

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