Corn Farmers are in the Fields, where to from here?

New crop corn futures are off 15% YTD and prices are 23% below their September 7th highs. I do not like picking bottoms, but… I think we are close enough to wade into bullish trade. December 13’ futures traded within 3 cents of contract lows overnight.

The latest decline comes from the planting progress farmers made in recent weeks. US farmers sowed corn at a feverish pace for the last two weeks as warm, dry weather in the Midwest allowed producers to get in the fields. A cold, wet spring had previously caused a very slow start to plantings, raising concerns of lower crop yields and prompting some farmers to plant soybeans instead of corn.

A break in the clouds made it possible for 71% of the US corn crop to be planted thus far, up from 28% just one week ago. This one week gain in seedlings matches the record of 43%, set in 1992. The planting delay premium previously built into market prices has now come to pass. From here, the focus will shift to summer weather and any changes in demand.

Now for the trade…

Corn futures chart

Corn Futures chart, May 21, 2013

Futures traders could buy new crop corn using the Fibonacci levels as upside objectives. As for risk, I see two ways to manage your exposure:

  1. Place a stop loss order just under contract lows. If this is hit, we’d regroup again after the next interim low.
  2. Sell out-of-the-money calls 1:1 against your futures positions.

Options traders can buy $1 bull call spreads in December. I have recently started accumulating $5/6 spreads for some of my clients. Those looking to make this trade with less of an outlay (and a little more risk) could partially finance the position by selling out-of-the-money puts.

For example, let’s assume you bought (25) $5/6 CZ13 spreads for $40,000… you could simultaneously sell (10) $5 puts for $15,000. This would result in a net debit of $25,000 (plus all fees & transaction costs). Understand this trade, as it’s laid out, carries fees on 60 contracts, so be sure to factor this in when computing your potential profit/loss.

As always, I’m here to discuss specifics and give guidance. Give me a call…

To discuss in more detail this chart or any other you can reach me at: or 954-929-9997

Risk Disclaimer: The opinions contained herein are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations and are not tailored to any specific’s investor’s needs or investment goals. You should fully understand the risks associated with trading futures, options and retail off-exchange foreign currency transactions (“Forex”) before making any trades. Trading futures, options, and Forex involves substantial risk of loss and is not suitable for all investors. You should carefully consider whether trading is suitable for you in light of your circumstances, knowledge, and financial resources. You may lose all or more of your initial investment. Opinions, market data, and recommendations are subject to change without notice. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.


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