URBANA, Ill. – Much of the discussion in the corn market, and in crop markets in general, has become focused on the potential for a protracted period of low prices and the likely impact on farm incomes and land values. According to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good, there even appears to be some competition relative to who can forecast the lowest corn prices for next year and beyond, which is just opposite the situation of a year ago when the drought-reduced U.S. crop invoked forecasts of extreme prices on the high side.
“While the corn market sentiment seems to have become very negative for price prospects for an extended period, the futures market is actually offering higher prices for the 2014 crop than for the 2013 crop and even higher prices for the 2015 crop,” Good said. “At this writing, December 2015 corn futures were trading 52 cents higher than December 2013 futures. Prices for the 2016 crop are also higher than prices for the 2013 and 2014 crops.”
Good reported that the premium for 2014 and 2015 crops seemingly reflects the “carry” in the market stemming from the large 2013 crop and prospects for large stocks at the end of the current marketing year. The premium of deferred futures within the current marketing year is consistent with the expected price pattern when production is large.
“This price structure reflects the cost of storage and encourages consumption sooner rather than later,” Good said. “However, theory suggests that the price structure should reset beginning with prices for delivery of the 2014 crop and again with prices for deferred crop years. That is, if supplies are expected to be abundant again next year, December 2014 futures should be near the price of December 2013 futures with deferred prices within the 2014-15 marketing year reflecting a carry. That pattern should be repeated for the 2015-16 marketing year.
“The reason that prices do not re-set in the manner described is that the market expects the price level to be different next year than during the current year,” Good said. “In the current case, the market is anticipating prices to move higher next year and remain higher than current prices for the next three years. The price structure seems to be at odds with general market sentiment.”
Good explained that higher corn prices next year and beyond would have to come from some combination of reduced foreign production, smaller U.S. crops, or an increased demand for corn. Increased demand is not synonymous with an increase in consumption associated with lower prices. Instead, increased demand is defined as the willingness of end users (domestic, foreign, or both) to consume more corn at a given price, or conversely, to pay higher prices for a given level of consumption. The question is, is it realistic to expect any of these conditions to unfold?
“The generally high corn prices since 2006 have stimulated an increase in foreign corn production,” Good said. “The USDA estimates 2013-14 foreign production to be 46 percent larger than production in 2005-06. Based on historical production responses, corn acreage outside the United States may stabilize following the recent decline in prices, but a substantial reduction in acreage would not be expected. If that is the case, reduced production would have to be the result of poor weather and lower yields. It is likely premature for the market to expect widespread poor yields in 2014, particularly with generally favorable weather conditions in South America. Some increase in corn demand outside of the United States associated with population and income growth seems to be a reasonable expectation. Potential corn demand by China is of the most interest. A small increase in domestic demand for corn could also be generated by an expansion in broiler and hog production. There will be much interest in the USDA’s Hogs and Pigs report to be released on Dec. 27. The potential increase in foreign and/or domestic demand may explain a portion of the higher prices for the 2014 crop,” he said.
Good said that the most commonly cited reason for higher corn prices next year is the expectation that U.S. producers will trim acreage and production in response to the decline in corn prices.
“It is difficult to imagine that total crop acreage will decline in 2014, given the 8.3 million acres of prevented plantings in 2013 and the 1.6 million acres (net) released from the Conservation Reserve Program this year,” Good said. “Smaller corn acreage would have to be the result of a substantial shift to other crops. Current price relationships do not point to a large shift. That leaves 2014 yield as the major factor that could support higher corn prices next year. Not much can be said about yield potential at this point, but expecting yields below trend is less reasonable than expecting yields at or above trend value,” he said.
Good concluded by saying that corn producers are presented with a challenge in making pricing decisions for next year’s crop. “Current conditions suggest that corn prices next year will be lower than currently reflected in the futures market, but it is early and a lot can change,” he said. “For those who use crop revenue insurance, the challenge is to assess price risk between now and the end of February when insurance prices are established. If the real threat to prices is the size of next year’s U.S. crop, downside price risk may be limited until after February.”
Share your houseplants
URBANA, Ill. – Are your houseplants overgrown or leggy and in need of renovation or repotting? Or do you wish you had more of your favorite varieties?
“Houseplants make great gifts and are fun to share with family and friends. Many kinds of houseplants are easily propagated using a number of easy techniques,” said Rhonda Ferree, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.
“To get started, you’ll need containers, a sterile cutting tool, soil, and a makeshift greenhouse. The container could be anything. I often use disposable cups. Use a good, sterile rooting media that is pre-moistened,” she said.
Ferree suggests purchasing a premixed potting soil.
For best results, create a “greenhouse” for the new plants to grow in until they are well established. Ziploc bags or small plastic zipper bags that curtains come in make good temporary greenhouses, she noted. Place your new plant starts in indirect light, opening the bag slightly to provide ventilation without losing humidity inside the bag.
“Division is the easiest way to propagate houseplants that form clumps such as ferns, mother-in-law’s tongue, African violets, spider plants, philodendron, pothos, and more,” she said. “Simply knock the plant out of its pot and pull the sections apart with your hands. Tough roots sometimes must be cut apart with a kitchen knife. Repot the divisions immediately, add water, and watch your ‘new’ plants grow.”
Some plants produce their own baby plants. Strawberry begonias and spider plants produce miniature plants at the end of long stems. After some time, you will see little root-like structures form on these new plant parts. When that happens, simply remove the plantlet and place it in a pot, making sure to get good soil-to-root contact.
For plants that do not form natural divisions or new baby plants, cuttings can be used. Cuttings are very simple and can be done a number of ways, Ferree said.
Stem cuttings from the ends of branches can produce roots and develop a new plant. Simply remove 3 or 4 inches of the terminal or end growth just below a node (leaf joint). Some common plants that can be started this way are coleus, geranium, ivy, begonia, and many of the philodendrons. Insert the node of a stem into loose potting soil, water, and watch it grow.
More information about houseplants is available online from U of I Extension at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/houseplants.
URBANA, Ill. – Many holiday decorations include pinecones, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.
“This year I’ve seen cones used in everything from wreaths, ornaments, table centerpieces, fireplace mantle accents, and cute pinecone animals,” said Rhonda Ferree. “Sometimes pinecones are spread with suet or peanut butter and sprinkled with birdseed to make a treat for the wild birds.”
Cones are the seeds of conifer plants. The word conifer is the common name used for a group of plants that possess seed-bearing cones. Examples of conifer plants that produce cones include pine, hemlock, spruce, fir, and cypress.
Cone type is different between and within the type of plant. The most commonly used cone is a pinecone. Mature cones on an Eastern White pine are 6 to 8 inches long by 2 inches wide. They are light brown with white tips on each cone scale. In the east, these cones sometimes grow much larger and are sold as Giant Eastern White pinecones that reach 6 to 8 inches long.
“The true giant cones typically come from Florida. Some of these mammoth beauties are up to 11 inches long and 16 inches around the base. Average ones are about 9 by 12 inches. They come in random colors of brown, gray, or red, and some have green tips,” Ferree said.
If looking for a small round cone, Ferree suggests using those from the Scotch pine. These are 1 to 2 inches tall by 1 inch in diameter. Colors vary from blonde to brown with red or gray tints. Scotch cones have a small pyramid prickle and a rounded bottom. For smaller cones, try those from a Mugo pine that are only 1 inch by 1 inch when mature.
Even smaller yet are the cones from the hemlock tree. Hemlock cones are one half inch around and come in chestnut brown to a dark brown/grayish color. “Hemlock cones are beautiful, sturdy little cones that some people say look like a little rose,” she said.
For a longer, cigar-shaped cone find a spruce tree. The Norway spruce produces the largest spruce cone at 3 to 6 inches long. The Colorado blue spruce cone is 2 to 4 inches long and has a softer, lighter appearance.
If you prefer a fancy cone, try the Douglas fir cone. The Douglas fir is not a true fir but is a relative of the Hemlock family. “The Douglas fir cones are 2 to 4 inches long and are very lightweight, with delicate, papery scales that also have distinctive three-pointed bracts that resemble the tail and hind feet of a mouse,” Ferree noted.
The color of Douglas fir cones range from a gray-brown to rust.
Another benefit of pinecones is the pine nuts. “Pine nuts are sometimes used in recipes, which I especially like in homemade pesto or sprinkled on a salad. Pine nuts come from pine tree pinecones, which are edible,” Ferree said.
Spend an evening with the voices of Illinois agriculture
URBANA, Ill. – Illinois agriculture specialists will share their experience and outlook at An Evening with the Voices of Illinois Agriculture, a public dinner event to be held Friday, Jan. 24, at 6 p.m. in the Spice Box on the University of Illinois campus.
“In some sense, American agriculture is a series of communities – defined by geography, commodities produced, cultural interests, shared experiences, and often bonded together by that familiar and trusted voice that comes across the airwaves every day with news vital to decisions and the understanding of issues and opportunities,” said Robert Easter, U of I president who will provide opening comments at the event. “Growing up in far southwest Texas, the voice for my community was Henry Howell at noon on radio station WOAI in San Antonio, 100 miles to the east and light years from the world where I lived.”
Easter joined the Illinois faculty as professor of swine nutrition and management in 1976 and became head of the Department of Animal Sciences in 1996. He was dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences from 2002 to 2009 and has served as the U of I president since March 2012.
Following Easter’s remarks, Paul Coolley will offer a toast. Coolley is a founding analyst for WILLAg.org’s agricultural programming. U of I Extension agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey will present information on crop insurance with comments from Tom Kadlec, president of ADM Investor Services.
This year’s market panel will feature Steve Freed, ADM Investor Services; Pete Manhart, Bates Commodities; Wayne Nelson, L&M Commodities; and Jacquie Voeks, Stewart Peterson. U of I agricultural economist Darrel Good will provide a commodity wrapup.
This special event supports the ACES hospitality management program and College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences scholarships.
The dinner will be prepared and served by students in the Hospitality Management program at U of I. The evening will begin with a cocktail hour from 6 to 7 p.m. The dinner will include meat from a 2013 Illinois State Fair champion hog auctioned at U of I’s Salute to Agriculture Day.
“Last year’s Voices of Illinois Agriculture was so well received that we all knew we wanted to re-create this unique event again,” said Gleason, a 1986 Illinois agriculture communications alumnus and host of Illinois Public Media’s Closing Market Report and Commodity Week programs for WILLAg.org. “It’s a delicious way to share ag economic information while supporting worthy causes.”
The Spice Box is located in Bevier Hall, 905 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana. Tickets for the event are $100 each. The deadline for registration is Jan. 15.
To register, call 217-333-9355 or visit https://ecommerce.aces.illinois.edu/voicesofagriculture .
Tips for Christmas tree care
URBANA, Ill. – Every holiday season there are stories about Christmas trees catching fire in homes, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), approximately one-tenth of 1 percent (0.12%) of residential fires involves a Christmas tree—both real and artificial. In fires where the Christmas tree was the first thing to burn, 44 percent of those fires involved an electrical malfunction, 24 percent of the fires were caused by the tree being too close to a heat source, and 6 percent were the result of children playing with fire or some other heat source, Wolford said.
To keep your tree from becoming a statistic, Wolford suggests following these tree-care safety tips.
If you are not putting the tree up right away, store it in an unheated garage or another area out of the wind and cold (freezing) temperatures. Make a fresh 1-inch cut on the butt end and place the tree in a bucket of water.
When you decide to bring the tree indoors, make another fresh 1-inch cut and place the tree in a sturdy stand that holds at least 1 gallon of water, or 1 quart of water for every inch of diameter of the trunk.
“Be sure to keep the water level about the base of the tree,” he noted. “If the base dries out, resin will form over the cut end and the tree will not be able to absorb water and will dry out quickly. Commercially prepared mixes, aspirin, sugar and other additives added to the water are not necessary. Research has shown that plain water will keep a tree fresh.”
Keep the tree as far away as possible from heat sources such as heaters, vents, and fireplaces. Keeping the room cool will slow down the drying process.
Check all Christmas tree lights for worn electrical cords. Be sure to use UL-approved electrical decorations and cords and turn off the tree lights when leaving the house or at night. Also, avoid overloading electrical circuits.
Wolford also suggests using miniature lights that produce less heat to reduce the drying effect on the tree.
Finally, take down the tree before it dries out. Many fresh-cut trees, if properly cared for, will last a few weeks before drying out, Wolford said.
“After Christmas, recycle your tree. Many communities will pick up trees and turn them into chips. Or you might consider putting the tree in your back yard and placing bread and suet among the branches for the birds,” he said.
For more information, visit the U of I Extension web site “Christmas Trees and More” at www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/trees.
This holiday season, give the gift of forgiveness
URBANA, Ill. – You may think of forgiveness as a gift that costs you more than you’re willing to give. But it’s also a gift that uniquely blesses the giver and receiver, said a University of Illinois Extension family life educator.
“Although forgiveness is a non-traditional holiday gift, one that you can’t wrap up and put under a tree, it may be appreciated more than any other gift you’ve ever offered,” said Cara Allen.
In making the decision to forgive, you decide not to hold a grudge toward someone who has hurt you. It also means initiating the process of changing your emotions toward the hurtful event by letting go and choosing to remember the hurt in a healthy way. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, condoning, or excusing the wrong, she said.
“Although you may think of forgiveness as something that you do for others, it is actually a very important gift that you give yourself. The process of forgiveness has many benefits for physical and emotional health,” Allen noted.
Social scientists have found that choosing to forgive can lead to better brain functioning, reduced risk factors for heart disease and high blood pressure, less depression, repaired social relationships, increased likeableness, and protection from unhealthy relationships, she said.
So how do we forgive, especially when we’ve been deeply hurt or betrayed? The forgiveness process includes recognizing the negative emotions we are experiencing and deciding to forgive, Allen said.
“This may happen only after we have recognized how much we are harming ourselves in not forgiving. We also may come to realize that we ourselves are not above needing forgiveness,” she added.
Forgiveness is a process, and it doesn’t happen in an instant, she said. “First, we choose to forgive and let go of the negative thoughts and emotions that we replay, sometimes over and over, about the wrong that has been done to us,” she said.
“When negative thoughts come back, you may think ‘I can’t forgive.’ But forgiveness isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice, and you can learn from the experience and find meaning in the process,” Allen noted.
Factors that hinder our ability to forgive include the fear that offering forgiveness will increase the chance of being hurt again; the fear we will appear weak; the fear that justice will not be served or we will lose our victim status; and the fear of letting go of the anger (anger can serve as a protection against further hurt and pain).
“You may also consider it too unfair or excessive to forgive,” she said.
“Forgiveness is seldom an easy process because it means letting go of a debt that we feel is owed us by another. But we were not created to carry the kind of weight that negative emotions bring us. The benefits of letting go and offering forgiveness are gifts worth giving to others and to yourself,” she said.
Spruce up houseplants this winter
URBANA, Ill. - Winter is a great time to spruce up houseplants, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.
Rhonda Ferree offers the following tips to give houseplants new life this winter.
“First, check to see if the plant has any insect or disease problems. Over the years I’ve decided that discarding these plants is often the best option since it is really hard to control pests indoors on plants. Some plants, though, can often be remedied with an insecticidal soap application or simply a good cleaning,” she said.
Next, see if the plant needs to be repotted. “Houseplants grow well outdoors in the summer and often need to be moved to a bigger pot. Sometimes plants just need to be repotted to give it fresh soil with better texture and nutrients. When repotting, use a good, sterile, multi-purpose potting soil. Never use garden soil for houseplants grown in containers,” Ferree said.
Cleaning and grooming plants will keep them healthy, clean, and attractive. Clean plant leaves to remove dust and dirt buildup with 1 teaspoon non-phosphate soap in 1 quart of water.
“Commonly used soaps include Ivory dish soap and PineSol, but many others are okay too. Use a sponge, cleaning cloth, or paper towel to wipe all surfaces of the leaves clean. Wipe down containers too,” she suggested.
Another cleaning option is to spray plants with a non-ammonia glass-cleaning product (such as Sparkle) and wipe clean. Hairy plants should be cleaned only with a brush or feather duster.
“I do not recommend using mayonnaise or furniture polish or anything that could clog the plant’s breathing pores,” she added.
Groom plants by removing debris. Debris found on the plant, on the top of the soil, or at the bottom of the container should be cleaned out regularly. Keep the plant attractive by trimming off old flower heads and all dead or dying leaves. Plants kept outdoors during the summer may need pruning to fit back indoors.
“As you consider each plant, think about what is missing,” Ferree said. “What could be more fun than a new houseplant this winter? “
Houseplants bring nature indoors and allow homes to come alive. In fact, studies indicate that houseplants help keep people happier and healthier. Plants fill an important psychological function and are also proven to clean indoor air.
“Plants help us be more productive,” she said. “I have seven houseplants in my office and have to think they help my creativity too. Add a new plant to your office or home this week.”
More information about houseplants from U of I Extension can be found at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/houseplants.
NRES Makes the Top 100 Exemplary Sites Promoting Forest and Woodland Conservation
NRES made the list of the top "100 Exemplary Sites Promoting Forest and Woodland Conservation," coming in at #68! To see the entire list, visit the ForestryDegree.net website.
"Forests and woodlands provide a great deal of economic value by filtering the water and air we breathe, providing habitat for creatures that are vital to the continued balance of the ecosystem, and providing the raw materials for wood and paper, which are integral to the manufacturing of many products. Conserving and maintaining healthy forests and woodlands is in the best interest of anyone working in the field of forestry, or any field that depends on forests, such as:
- Forestry, agroforestry, and land management.
- Logging and timber industries.
Conservation of forests doesn’t mean completely halting all logging activities and other harvesting of forest products. It is possible to continue cutting down trees for making wood and paper while keeping healthy and sustainable forests alive indefinitely, so that we can continue to benefit from their water and air filtration and many other ecological benefits. The sites listed here are all about protecting woodlands and rainforests while still making efficienty use of their resources. These sites are not ranked, but classified by subject matter."
Finding this year's Christmas tree
URBANA, Ill. – Selecting the “perfect” Christmas tree to brighten your holiday season is simply a matter of following a few steps, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.
“Choose a spot in your home to place the tree before heading out to buy it,” said Ron Wolford. “Ask yourself a few questions. Will the tree be seen from all sides, or will some of it be against a wall?”
Remember to choose a tree that fits where it is to be displayed. For example, if the tree is displayed in front of a large window, then all four sides should look as good as possible. If the tree is displayed against a wall, then a tree with three good sides would be okay. A tree with two good sides would work well in a corner. “The more perfect a tree, the more expensive it will be,” Wolford said.
Before selecting a tree, use a tape measure to measure the height and width of the space you have available in the room where the tree will be placed.
“There is nothing worse than bringing a tree indoors only to find it's too tall. Take the tape measure with you to the farm or retail lot to measure your chosen tree and bring a cord to tie your tree to the car,” he said.
Another consideration is to pick a spot away from heat sources, such as TVs, fireplaces, radiators, heaters, and air vents. “A dried-out tree is a safety hazard. Also make sure the tree is clear of doors,” he said.
If buying from a retail lot, Wolford recommends going during the day. “Choosing a tree in daylight is a much easier experience then trying to pick out a tree in a dimly lit lot,” he said.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, consumers should not worry about the quality of trees they can find this year no matter what the weather was like in the summer. Summer weather patterns didn't really impact trees harvested this year.
Do some research on different Christmas tree varieties. Some varieties hold needles longer or have a longer-lasting fragrance than others. Some tree varieties have stiff branches and a more open habit, making them more suitable for large ornaments.
“Choose a fresh tree. A fresh tree will have a healthy green appearance with few browning needles. Needles should be flexible and not fall off if you run a branch through your hand. Raise the tree a few inches off the ground and drop it on the butt end. Very few green needles should drop off the tree. It is normal for a few inner brown needles to drop,” Wolford said.
Make sure the handle or base of the tree is straight and 6 to 9 inches long so it will fit easily into your stand.
Remember that trees sold on retail lots in urban areas may have come from out of state and may have been exposed to drying winds in transit. They may have also been cut weeks earlier. Buy trees early before the best trees have been sold. Ask the retailer whether trees are delivered once at the beginning of the season or if they are delivered at different times during the selling season. Purchasing a tree from a Christmas tree farm ensures that you will have a fresh tree.
“If you are not putting the tree up right away, store it in an unheated garage or some other area out of the wind and cold (freezing) temperatures,” Wolford noted. “Make a fresh, 1-inch cut on the butt end and place the tree in a bucket of warm water. When you decide to bring the tree indoors, make another fresh 1-inch cut and place the tree in a sturdy stand that holds at least one gallon of water. Another is one quart of water for every inch of diameter of the trunk.”
Be sure to keep the water level above the base of the tree. If the base dries out, resin will form over the cut end and the tree will not be able to absorb water and will dry out quickly.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does not improve water uptake.
Commercially prepared mixes, aspirin, sugar, or other additives added to the water are not necessary. Research has shown that plain water will keep a tree fresh, Wolford said.
For more information, visit the University of Illinois Extension web site “Christmas Trees and More” at www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/trees.
Why is anticipating feed and residual use of corn so difficult?
URBANA, Ill. – The timeliness of U.S. corn consumption data varies by category of use, according to a University of Illinois agricultural economist. The USDA provides weekly data on the amount of corn inspected for export with a lag of only four days. The U.S. Energy Information Administration provides weekly estimates of ethanol production (with corn as the predominant feedstock) with a lag of only five days. Data relative to the consumption of corn for other domestic processing uses is not readily available, but the rate of use is so consistent that consumption is not difficult to anticipate.
“In contrast, information relative to the consumption of corn as livestock feed is not available on a timely basis since no census or USDA survey data are collected in this category,” said Darrel Good. “Instead, the USDA’s quarterly estimate of corn stocks provides the basis for estimating feed and residual use of corn in the quarter prior to the reference date for the stocks estimate.”
Good said that feed and residual use is calculated as total use during the quarter minus the estimates of use in the other categories. The calculation of feed and residual use during the first quarter of the marketing year is used to forecast use for the rest of the marketing year, and that forecast is updated with each subsequent quarterly stocks estimate.
“The process of anticipating the magnitude of feed and residual use to be revealed by the stocks estimate and the projection of marketing-year use based on the revealed rate of use is ‘messy’ for several reasons,” Good said. “First, the residual component of feed and residual use appears to vary considerably from year to year. This is illustrated by the variation in the magnitude of feed and residual use per unit of livestock production. The USDA estimates the number of grain-consuming animal units for each corn-marketing year. That estimate is based on an estimate of the number of animals fed by species weighted by the amount of grain required per animal in each species,” Good said.
According to Good, in the previous six years, the estimate of grain-consuming animal units has ranged from 91.6 million to 95.5 million, and the magnitude of feed and residual use of corn per animal unit has ranged from 47.1 to 61.9 bushels. Some of the variation in feed and residual use of corn per grain-consuming animal unit is explained by the variation in the magnitude of feed and residual use of other grains, particularly wheat. Still, the magnitude of feed and residual use of all grains per grain-consuming animal unit has varied by 20 percent over the past six years. The USDA acknowledges this variation and attributes much of the variation to crop size, with larger residual use associated with large crops and vice versa. The large variation illustrates the difficulty of anticipating quarterly feed and residual use of corn based on estimates of the number of livestock fed during the quarter.
“A second reason for the difficulty in anticipating the magnitude of quarterly feed and residual use of corn is that apparent use during any particular quarter has varied substantially more in recent years,” Good said. “This variation has been most notable in the first and last quarters of the marketing year when estimated use is influenced by the amount of ‘new-crop’ corn that is harvested before Sept. 1. However, there has also been considerable variation in the estimates of use in the second and third quarters of the marketing year. From the 2006-07 marketing year through the 2012-13 marketing year, the estimate of feed and residual use varied by more than 500 million bushels for each quarter of the year. In contrast, the range in the seven marketing years from 1999-00 through 2005-06 did not exceed 275 million bushels for any quarter,” he said.
A third factor that Good said makes anticipating and projecting quarterly feed and residual use of corn difficult is the shift in the quarterly pattern of consumption in that category since the 2006-07 marketing year.
“With minimal variation, the quarterly distribution of marketing-year feed and residual use was very consistent from 1990-91 through 2005-06,” Good said. “Use was largest in the first quarter (as a percentage of the marketing-year total) and smallest in the fourth quarter, but that distribution did not vary much from year to year. Since then, there has been substantially more variation in the quarterly distribution of use and a general shift to a larger percentage of consumption in the first quarter and a smaller percentage in the fourth quarter of the year.
“The increased difficulty in anticipating the magnitude of quarterly feed and residual use of corn makes it difficult for the market to anticipate the USDA’s quarterly corn stocks estimates,” Good continued. “That difficulty is compounded for the Dec. 1 report since that estimate also includes any change in the production estimate not anticipated by the market. As a result, the USDA’s quarterly stocks estimates have provided some surprises in recent years, resulting in sharp price reactions. Some of that price reaction may indicate that the market has not recognized the changing pattern and increased variation in quarterly feed and residual use and is overreacting to perceived surprises. The next opportunity for a surprise will be with the estimate of Dec. 1, 2013, corn stocks to be released in the second week of January,” Good said.