What a difference a year makes. I’ve just returned from the annual Commodity Classic event and the news from the field is positive. And it feels great.
As long-time readers of this column may remember, this is the complete opposite situation that I found when attending the 2009 Commodity Classic. At that show, I kept asking all the growers and retailers I could find what the prospects were the upcoming growing season and all I got back were blank stares. No one was ordering crop inputs (even though it was early March) and everyone seemed very nervous about all the year would play out. As we now know, 2009 was indeed a rough, uneven year for the agricultural industry, made all the worse by huge extremes in weather conditions for many parts of the country.
This year, the news is totally different. From what I learned at the 2010 Commodity Classic, growers are largely locked in on corn or soybeans, have ordered their seeds and fertilizer inputs accordingly, and are moving with rapid speed to get planting. Retailers, too, are benefiting from this cautiously positive outlook, with many reporting that their grower-customers had already locked in orders and prices for 2010. In fact, one retailer said the majority of his customer had already pre-ordered and paid for products into 2011 and 2012 as well.
Sure, there were a few folks that thought 2010 could repeat 2009’s performance when it comes to weather, forcing plenty of re-plantings into June and an inevitable switch from corn to soybeans, but this was a small minority. “I can’t really do anything about the weather, so it’s the one thing I don’t worry about much,” said one Central Illinois grower. “But as for the things I can control such as picking the seeds and fertilizers I want for the year, I’m good to go.”
So count as me among the folks looking forward to the 2010 season. From the sounds of it, this could be one of agriculture’s best performances in quite a few years.