A look toward 2024

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

A good friend who is “all about horses” inspired me to take time to visit the Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. It was a quiet day at the track itself as all the attention was directed to a horse auction. As we meandered the grounds, a very welcoming lady staffer said to me, “Go wherever you want, no limits.” Cindy’s response, “Oh please, don’t tell him that.” She knows me…This harvest season was one for the books! The sky’s the limit! 

As the year winds down, here are some reminders for the months ahead. Corn basis will see some improvements in nearby bids compared to those seen late in harvest. As November came to a close, numerous Ohio facilities had those bids at December minus 70 cents or even wider. The December to March corn spread reached its widest levels in 15 years as it maxed out at 26 cents. Using that same corn spread of 26 cents equates to March minus 96 cents, easily 30 to 40 cents wider than seen in recent years. Bottom line, look for corn basis to be much wider than normal well into February 2024 due to record yields for much of Ohio in the 2023 growing season.

Early December, Brazil weather continues to be the main driver for grain prices. It has been a factor for over two months as southern Brazil is wet and still getting rains. Central and northern Brazil have been dry with only sporadic rains which have not alleviated their moisture concerns. The on-going effects of those conditions are having a direct impact on soybean planting progress. Only 74% of Brazil’s soybeans had been planted as of late November, ongoing the slowest planting pace in eight years. Brazil’s producers have several alternatives in the weeks ahead, continue planting soybeans but planting less corn, plant less soybeans and plant corn, plant less soybeans and plant cotton. 

The slow pace of soybean and corn planting in Brazil could easily lead to additional U.S. export potential not expected several months ago. The ability for Brazil to export soybeans late January and into the first half of February is likely reduced compared to previous years. It means the U.S. window for soybean exports could extend longer than normal into the first quarter of 2024. In addition, Brazil’s second crop corn, safrinha, will most likely be less than expected. With that prospect, the U.S. will have the ability to replace some of those lost Brazil corn exports later in 2024. 

With corn harvest finally over for Ohio’s producers, it’s time to start planning the hybrids to plant in 2024. Corn yields for many Ohio producers were record breaking as yields were 20 to 60 bushels or more above previous farm yields. One customer late in November revealed that some hybrids which had been a strong yield favorite in years past were disappointing this year as they were now at or near the bottom of the yield spectrum. Those favorite hybrids in years past will be exchanged for new favorites in 2024. 

Our office was one of the sponsors for a seminar presented by Ohio State University Extension last month titled “Climate Smart: Farming with Weather Extremes.” One of those highlights included: “Weather Whiplash,” detailed by Aaron Wilson, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Ag Weather and Climate, Extension, OSU. Remember the frigid cold spell last Christmas when we experienced several days of below zero temperatures? It brought Ohio travel to a near standstill. Then just a few weeks later, above normal temperatures brought daily highs to 60 degrees or more. 

Changing Ohio weather has also resulted in a decrease of days available for field work and planting over the last 20 years. Ohio’s farmers vividly recall the planting seasons for the past two years when corn and soybean planting was delayed weeks at a time due to continuing rains. Less workable field days have contributed heavily to using bigger equipment in order to plant in fewer days.  Ohio is also experiencing more rainfall totals when rain does occur. The concept of a “100-year flood” is now being replaced by a “30- to 40-year flood.” Our summers are becoming similar to Arkansas, as we experience more days of hot and humid weather. 

Changing Ohio weather has also resulted in plant hardiness zones for home landscape plants being revamped in 2024. See your local Extension office for further details.

Don’t limit your challenges. Challenge your limits. — Anonymous

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