Listen to our Keith Schweitzer talking on the DFD (Dairy Farming Discussions) podcast about Hay Field Scouting by clicking on the image:



Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn


Grains were little changed over the past week. Active planting progress was offset by the positive influence of stronger outside markets, which are responding to a likely improvement in the devastating affects of the virus.


88 percent of US corn is planted and 65 percent of their soybeans are in the ground. Normally they are at 82 and 55 percent now. The Northern Plains are the only area behind, and many acres there could go into the prevent plant program.


Large speculators are aggressively selling corn futures again, and hold their second largest short position ever. The only time they were more bearish was last spring. Then planting got delayed, and they covered, causing a 5 week price rise of $1.28. This is unlikely this year.


China is buying more soybeans and record amounts of pork. They are building food reserves, and why wouldn’t they, with prices near their lowest levels in 10-15 years. It seems to me that Trump standing up to China has benefited them more than the US has gained.


Ontario planting progress has been under the best conditions in many years. Farmers sure appreciate planting into dryer soil conditions. With the recent heat, much of the corn is emerging. Most of the soybeans will likely be planted by the end of May.


The weather has allowed the Ontario winter wheat crop to move along quickly, with very few stresses. Yields in areas I travel (which isn’t far though) look to have above average yield potential. Wheat prices have dropped lately, but a fair bit of wheat was contracted at better prices.


The Canadian dollar fell hard in March, but has rallied 4.2 cents since the low on March 16. This is not what Ontario needs right now. Basis levels on crops and livestock are taking a hit, and with Chicago prices also in the tank, farm income will suffer.


Outside markets have been firm. Crude oil keeps rallying, as demand is slowly picking up. Stock markets have been amazingly strong considering the damage that has been done to the economy. The Nasdaq in the US, which is weighted towards technology, is the leader.


All the liquidity that governments around the world are putting into the financial system has to go somewhere. The US is still considered the “safe haven”, so much of that is flowing to US stocks.


It is estimated that 85 percent of the wealth in the US stock market is held by 10 percent of the population. This trend has been growing for years, and the pandemic has accelerated it drastically. Somehow it doesn’t seem fair when so many people are hurting right now.

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn

Grand Prize - Yeti Package and Image as the cover of the 2020 Hensall Co-op Annual Report.

Any or all submitted images may be used for Hensall Co-op marketing activities. 



  1. FIELD FUN -  Crop services activities from planting to harvest.
  2. FULL OF ENERGY - Keeping our farms running, our energy division is out on the road.
  3. FEEDING ONTARIO - the people, animals and activities from our Animal Nutrition division as animal protein is grown to feed the population. 
  4. PLANT PROTEIN - show off how you play a part in our bean shipments exported 40 countries 
  5. KEEP ON TRUCKING - Hensall Global trucks and people doing their thing.
  6. GOING WITH THE GRAIN - The people and activities involved with the grains and other raw ingredients we handle that go into the food and products for the world.


  • Grand Prize for Best Image: a $500 Yeti package & image showcased as the cover of the Hensall Co-op 2020 Annual Report
  • Runner-up Best Image: $350 Yeti Package
  • $100 first prize in each category
  • $50 second prize in each category
  • $25 third prize in each category


  • All entries must be images taken in Canada.
  • Entrants must own the rights to the image(s) they submit.
  • The contest is open to all members, customers and employees of Hensall Co-op.


  • Winners’ names and images will be used in our social media and may be used in the Hensall Co-op 2020 Annual Report.
  • Hensall Co-op reserves the non-exclusive right to publish any entry and/or use any entry in promotional and advertising materials. Published images will be credited to the photographer where possible.
  • By participating in this contest, each entrant agrees to provide Hensall Co-op with the non-exclusive rights to use their images. Participants agree to the terms and conditions outlined.


  • Entries are to be digital images and submitted electronically as jpeg files to Emails must be no more than 6 MB in size, larger files may be submitted via
  • Cropping and tonal or colour corrections are permitted. Photography should be of professional quality and style. Warm tones are favoured as they help unify the look and feel of our brand materials. 
  • Images selected will be contacted to submit a high-resolution file suitable for print reproduction (minimum 300 dpi at 6 x 9 inches, 8 x 10 and greater is preferred). If that is unavailable, the prize(s) will be forfeit and a new winner will be selected.


  • Images that have won any other contests or have been published in a magazine or newspaper are not eligible.
  • Individuals can only win once per category, but may win in multiple categories.
  • Limit of two entries per category per entrant. 


Please remember the importance of both farm safety and social distancing in the activities portrayed in submissions. When taking photos, please keep in mind the safety of all those involved. Entries that do not portray this will not be accepted.


When submitting photos, the following contact information must be included:

  • full name
  • phone number
  • email address
  • location where the photo was taken
  • category image is to be entered
  • a signed image waiver for each person in the image (available here).
  • Failure to provide any of the above information will make the submission ineligible. 

All entries must be received by email by end of day on August 31, 2020.


The winners will be selected by a panel of staff and external judges. 
Judges’ decisions are final.


Melanie Prosser
Marketing & Communications Manager, 
Hensall Co-op


PDF version of the Contest Rules available here.

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn


Grain prices remained lifeless over the past week. Prices are respecting the long term chart support they are sitting at, which unfortunately is near 10 year lows.

Fundamentals aren’t helping to turn this bear market around. Demand has been lost due to Covid 19, and world carry outs are large by historical standards. Now it will come down to US growing conditions.

As of May 17, 80 percent of US corn was planted. This is a bit ahead of the normal pace of 71 percent for that date. 53 percent of the soybeans were in the ground, compared to 38 usual for that date.

Traders know that earlier planting usually translates to higher yields, so that is holding markets down. However, this past weekend saw heavy rains in the heart of the Midwest, so the planting pace will slow this week.

Traders have also learned that “rain makes grain”. This was reinforced the past 2 years, as wet, late springs failed to dampen yields by very much. It will take sustained dryness to get a supply side rally going.

The demand side is showing some life lately. Crude oil is back over $30.00/barrel after the total collapse in late April. That is still very cheap, but at least the trend is in the right direction. Usage is increasing as economies begin to open up.

Ethanol production is picking up somewhat too and stocks are declining. USDA thinks they will use 250 mln bu more for ethanol for the 2020/21 crop than the amount for the current crop, which fell hard so far in 2020.

USDA also expects corn exports to be up 375 mln bu this year and feed use by 350 mln. compared to last year, so USDA is optimistic on demand. However, they predicted a record 15.995 bln bu crop, which would blow away the previous record in 2016.

It is likely, however, that production will not get that high. There is some switching going on from corn to soybeans because of the soy/corn ratio. Yield will be the main factor for price direction. The US hasn’t had a serious, widespread drought since 2012.

The Canadian dollar has been strong lately and is up 3.7 cents from its March low. This is negatively impacting basis. This is the last thing Ontario farmers need right now with Chicago prices as low as they are.


Trump today gave details on the $19 billion farm program, with $16 billion of that in direct payments to their farmers because of the low prices. It is very unfair that our government basically only gives lip service to our farmers, especially grain farmers.


Farm income in Ontario and Canada will take one it’s largest drops ever in 2020. The playing field is very unlevel with our American competitors. Farm groups are trying their best, but sadly it’s all falling on deaf ears.


This, despite the importance of agriculture to everyone and the economy. I suppose there’s just not enough votes in the farming community for the Liberal government to care.


Frank Backx.

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn


Grain prices were mixed over the past week, as they seem to have found an equilibrium. US weather will be the driving force over the next 4 or 5 months.

US farmers planted another 16 percent of their corn and 15 percent of their soybeans last week, to put them well ahead of last year and the average for the 10th of May. 67 and 38 percent of those crops are now in the ground.

USDA released its monthly demand/supply report on May 12. The May instalment always includes the first estimates for new crop, as well as updating the old crop.

US old crop corn carryout (CO) was put at 2.1 bln bu, less than the 2.22 expected. The CO for the 2020/21 crop was put at 3.389 bln, or 61 percent more. This would be the highest since 1988.

Old crop soybeans were pegged at 488 mln bu., less than the 580 expected. The new crop is expected to decline to 430 mln, for a 13 percent decline.

US wheat numbers were in line with expectations. The CO will fall to 909 mln bu, compared to 978 for last year. This would be the lowest since 2014. US wheat is rated 53 percent good/excellent.

World corn and wheat CO’s were well above expectations, while soybeans were less, as USDA expects China to import 7.2 mln mt more what they bought the past year.

Overall, there were no major surprises, so prices didn’t react much. Most traders are aware that USDA is notoriously high in these early estimates. Acres and yield will, as always, change these numbers.

It appears to me that grain prices are near wrung out on the downside. Prices are at long term support on the charts and near their lowest levels in over a decade.


Meanwhile, farmer’s cost of production has increased markedly over the past 10 years. Higher yields have contributed to this divergence, and this is a testament to how efficient farmers have become.

Outside markets were quiet also, with more gainers than losers. Most countries are being cautious about opening up their economies too quickly. Hopefully all the sacrifices will have been worth it and the world will get back closer to where it was.


Frank Backx

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn


US farmers are proving again that with all their equipment and some decent planting weather, they can plant a lot of crop in a short while.

US corn is 51 percent planted, up 24 from last week. Normal for May 3 is 39 percent. The major states of Illinois and Iowa are at 78 and 56 percent respectively.

Soybean planting is at a record pace, with 23 percent in the ground. The average is 11 percent now. 46 percent of the soybeans are planted in Iowa, while Illinois is at 31 percent.

A mostly dry, albeit cold forecast means the rapid pace is likely continuing this week. Early planting generally leads to stronger yields. 2016 saw the fastest corn planting, and they had record yields.

There has been some progress in Ontario, but it is much slower. The heavier soils still aren’t fit, as the cool temperatures are slowing soil drying. The forecast is for more cold, but dry, so planting will proceed.

China is still well behind the pace needed to reach the targets set in Phase 1 of the trade agreement. Trump also feels CoVid wasn’t handled well by them. Trade relations are getting more strained.

Corona virus is still the main news story, by far. More and more countries are reducing restrictions on their citizens. Hopefully a secondary spike in cases doesn’t happen.

I believe people will still keep their distances, which will surely help. The world has sure changed in the past 2 or 3 months, socially and economically. Some good will come from all of this.

The economy is suffering, however. 30 million Americans have applied for unemployment insurance in the past 6 weeks. That’s over 16 percent of their workforce. It wipes out all the job gains of the past 10 years.

Government deficits are exploding. The US will add $3 trillion to theirs this year. Some think Canada’s yearly deficit could hit $252 billion this year. These are scary numbers, and there will eventually be consequences.

There was better news in livestock futures. Hogs have gained 56 percent since their low on April 14, while cattle are up a more minor 10 cents a pound since April. Hopefully packing plants get back to full production shortly.


Frank Backx


Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn


Demand destruction dominated the headlines in ag markets again. The ethanol story has been well documented, as the crude oil collapse has caused ethanol production to be unprofitable. 

The cheapest oil prices in decades came about as major suppliers produced too much and then demand tanked due to coronavirus. Everyone is driving less and airlines are operating at 10 percent of capacity. 

Livestock prices are very weak as packing plants are on reduced kill, also because of Covid. One third of US hog slaughter is currently shut down. Wholesale cattle prices hit record highs, as retail supplies are being limited by the shutdowns. 

More and more jurisdictions are easing up on the restrictions associated with the virus, which is a good thing. The economy has taken a major hit, but the fiscal and monetary stimulus governments are supplying will surely help. 

The TSX index in Toronto has gained back nearly 50 percent of the drop that started in February. The US S&P has recovered 60 percent of its losses, as energy isn’t as large a part of their index. Markets will now react to how well economies do after things open up.  

Unfortunately, it’s the Mom and Pop shops that have borne the brunt of the shutdowns. This is especially true in rural Ontario. Meanwhile, Amazon and Netflix stocks recently hit record highs, as consumer habits have changed.  

It will take months for the world to get back to where it was before Covid. Where people are allowed more freedom, the pace of progress is slow. Too much fear has been driven into society for a rapid recovery. 

Another side affect of what’s going on is that there has been an increase in demand for edible beans, both soy and dry, especially from Asia. African Swine Fever caused higher meat prices, and corona is doing the same thing everywhere now.  

Hensall Co op is trying to fill their new orders. Net returns can be greater than for the traditional crops, assuming average yields, and considering the cost of production.  

Most of Hensall’s edible soybeans carry a premium of $3.25/bushel. With elevator soybeans currently at $11.10, the premium is nearly a 30 percent to crusher beans. Yield drag isn’t great and cost of production isn’t that different.  

Compared to the $4.20 corn harvest price, kidney beans can return an extra $300.00 per acre. For those that would rather “direct harvest”, white and black beans can return an extra $135 to 150 per acre compared to corn. 

Another advantage of dry beans is that it splits up the workload, as they can be planted in June, and harvested in September. Planting wheat earlier, after the bean harvest, usually leads to higher wheat yields also.  


Frank Backx

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn

This week we highlight planting progress, the weather forecast, and the Balance sheets for both Corn and Soybeans.




Happy Earth day!  Have a great week!

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn

To our valued customers


Over the last few years we have continued to grow our exports of Ontario Corn to the European Union (EU) because we have a competitive advantage over the USA.  With the question marks in the ethanol industry and what their demand looks like ,  our exports out of Ontario could become very important to our corn market.  Because of this we have to make sure we are growing varieties that are approved by the EU for feed and food use.  As new technology comes out there can be a lag between when they are approved for planting in Canada and approved for use in the EU.  Ontario Agri Business Association (OABA) and Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) have developed a joint statement regarding the marketing of corn from hybrids that have not received approval for food and feed use in the European Union. Their release can be found here.


Here at Hensall Co-op we support the development of new genetics and support the seed companies bringing out those genetics.  We also have to make sure we comply with what our end user market want.  Hensall Co-op can not accept non approved varieties and that has been our position in the past as well.

If you have any questions feel free to reach out to your Hensall Co-op locations

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn


Scary times! The fallout from the Covid virus is wreaking havoc on the world. The tragedy of all the deaths is obviously the worst affect. However, preventing the spread is having more serious ramifications than anyone could have imagined.


The most severe market example this past week was the dramatic, unprecedented collapse in crude oil prices. Prices in the nearby May futures contract fell to a MINUS $37.63 per barrel. The collapse in energy demand meant there was nowhere to go with oil.


Meanwhile there are still ocean liners looking for a place to unload and it costs money to store it. That’s why the price went negative. The wealth destruction in the energy sector is huge. This, unfortunately, could be a precedent for other markets as well.


Agriculture, too, has taken a big hit. Livestock producers are having trouble marketing their product as packing houses are shutting down. That means producer prices are very weak and many animals will likely need to be culled.


Meanwhile, retail meat prices could easily spike higher. If less animals are being processed, shortages may develop. Longer term, it could increase the demand for plant based protein if prices get too high.


Grain prices are suffering also. Less livestock, as farmers cut back their herds, means less feed demand. Corn for ethanol demand is collapsing, as refineries close down or cut back. Old crop carry outs in grains are going up rapidly.


Corn has been the worst performer. On April 21, nearby corn futures hit $3.01/bu, exactly tying the low hit in August 2016. The last time corn traded under $3.00 was in 2009. It’s getting hard to pencil out a profit at current prices.


Trump must realize the severity of the situation on their farms, as he has pledged another $19 billion for agriculture. $3 billion will be to buy food for food banks etc., while $16 billion will be direct payments to their farmers.


He also gave their farmers $15 billion in 2019 to make up for the market losses caused by his trade dispute with China. Fully one third of US farm income came from government handouts last year.


The need is much greater now. Canadian farmers are dealing with the same markets as their American counterparts. Agriculture isn’t even on the radar for our government. They’re dispersing money to others who need it, so why not agriculture?


I’m sure it’s partly that farmers make up such a small portion of the population. However, they are amongst the most important people in our society. It may also be that it is such a diverse industry, with different interests, but they are all hurting right now.


Our government needs to step up to the plate and at least level the playing field somewhat as farmers head to their fields to plant the next crop.


Frank Backx   


Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn


Blog Contributor Portrait
Hensall Co-op
May 27, 2020
show Hensall's posts
Blog Contributor Portrait
Energy Division
April 13, 2020
show Energy's posts
Blog Contributor Portrait
Crop Services
April 9, 2020
show Crop's posts

Latest Posts

Show All Recent Posts



Everything Media Release Frank's Market Comments Industry Trade Show News Upcoming Events Podcast Video