Grains were weaker again over the past week, but with reduced volatility. This is likely because prices are near long term support on the charts, causing short sellers to be hesitant to push the short side any further.

 

2020 hasn’t been good to agriculture so far. Prices hit their highs in early January and prices have been in a downtrend since. So far this year, corn, soybean and wheat futures are down 63, 89 and 26 cents from their January highs.

 

Corn is making new contract lows in the daily charts, but holding above the critical support at $3.20. Corn has been the worst relative performer this year by far. Losses accelerated last month when crude oil prices collapsed.

 

Wheat has been the best performer, especially Chicago’s soft red wheat futures. They trade at an unusual $.75 premium to Kansas hard red wheat and a $.25 premium to Minneapolis’s hard red spring wheat futures.

 

US total wheat acres are the lowest in over 100 years, but the US isn’t nearly as large a world player in wheat compared to corn and soybeans. Recent strength in wheat is due to Russia, the world’s largest exporter, curtailing exports for the next 3 months.

 

While the drop in grain prices so far in 2020 isn’t what farmers need or want, it pales compared to the destruction in livestock prices. Hogs topped out in January at 70.20, and on April 6th, traded to 37.50, in the April contract, the lowest level since 2003.

 

Cattle started the year at $128/cwt and recently traded at under 84. That is their lowest futures price since 2009. Fortunately, the Canadian dollar has been weak, helping local prices somewhat. However, current local prices are still in the tank.

 

It is unfortunate, and even unfair, that retail prices don’t reflect any of this. Even gas prices have tumbled with the drop in crude prices. Why aren’t retail meat prices reflecting the price on the producer side?

 

Outside markets were mostly higher. Gold traded over $1700 for the first time since Dec. 2012. Toronto stocks shot up over 13 percent over the past week, as more people believe the world is getting closer to the peak of the coronavirus. Let’s hope they are right.

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