Free Commentary

We are off to a fresh week of trade, which, surprisingly enough, is already the final week of trade for the month of February.  That means we have just five more days to add into this year’s crop insurance guarantees for Northern states, which currently stand at $4.54 for corn, $11.73 beans, and $.82 for cotton.  While probably not soon enough for many who remain in the clutches of old man winter, the focus now will increasingly shift to spring weather and planting, which is some southern states should be only a couple of weeks away. Surveys should be going out next week to poll farmers about their planting intentions, which Uncle Sam should then present on the 31st.  It will be interesting to see how close to the mark the numbers released last week may have been.  As a reminder, the forum estimated 92 million acres of corn (+1.3%), 90 million beans (+8.3%), 45 million wheat (+1.6), and 12 million cotton (-.7%).

Large specs took a little breather last week, possibly fine-tuning positions a bit. They lightened up shorts in Chicago wheat with the purchase of 2,445 contracts but liquidated 2,700 contracts from the longs in KC.  They were net sellers of a minor 588 contracts in corn but were a touch more aggressive in beans, selling just over 16,500 contracts.  They purchased another 1,900 contracts of bean oil but sold nearly 5,500 meal, and sold nearly 500 contracts of cotton, but remain long in all the above, sans Chicago wheat.

There was some unwelcome news from Russia this morning, and no, it had nothing to do with election interference or Vladimir Putin.  They have reported the first known case of H5N8 bird flu passing from bird to human.  This does not come as a complete shock as previous bird flu strains have been transmitted from bird to humans, but this happens to be the strain that has infected a number of countries this year and have obviously mutated enough to spread to humans.  There were seven employees at a plant that were infected back in December, and all are reported to have recovered. Still, understandably, when the world is already on high alert concerning zoonotic diseases, this is big news in the virology and epidemiology world.

Grains are not the only commodities that have begun this week with strength as we have higher prices showing up in metals, softs and energies.  While we have not quite poked up to new highs for the swing yet, Brent Crude Oil is on track to close higher for the fourth month in a row, and above the $60 level for a monthly finish for the first time since December 2019. No doubt, very welcome news for the fracking industry in this country.