03/26/19 — March Madness is a term usually reserved for the college basketball tournament that starts this month, with teams whittled down from 64 to one champion through a series of tournaments. It could just as well apply to agriculture, but for a different reason. Flooding is the first part of the “March madness” agriculture will need to endure in 2019. First in Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota starting last week to the northern states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan the latter part of March.

Our March madness continues with the March 29 acreage report for most crops, with the acreage numbers expected to show more corn, less soybeans, and more HRS wheat than last year. What the numbers actually are on Friday will begin the spring marketing season, with prices moving where they need to go to allocate crop acres and values.

Also this week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and teams will travel to China to meet with chief Chinese negotiator Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing Thursday and Friday. Next week, Liu will be back in Washington with his team trying to finish the negotiations (we hope). If successful, that might be the biggest boost to U.S. ag prospects this year, by far.

To put it into perspective, the U.S. has lost the equivalent of about 18 million acres of soybean export business with China the past year. That is the equivalent of a 10 percent increase in corn and soybean acreage this year in its impact on ending stocks. Or like having a 10 percent higher yield in both corn and soybeans on any given year. However, trade disputes aren’t like a one-year weather event — they keep on impacting markets year after year after year. The point is, a China-U.S. trade deal is a really, really big deal. Let’s hope it gets done.

Weather forecasts continue to push towards a wetter forecast the next two weeks, with about normal precip the next seven days, and above normal for the 8- to 14-day U.S. forecast. Temps also are cooling, with mostly normal to below normal temps forecast for most of the U.S. the coming two weeks. This is not as favorable as it was just last weekend. So planting may be delayed somewhat in the Corn Belt as we start the season.

Flooding will continue in northern states as the snowmelt continues. We were completely saturated last fall in almost the entire Midwest, so it is not a surprise with the heavy snowfall in January/February that we are suffering from spring flooding. We note that winter wheat conditions improved this week in the key states of Kansas (+3% Good/excellent), Oklahoma (+14%), and Texas (+6%). We’ll see how wheat can handle that bearish news.

South American weather is wet and cool in Brazil and warmer and much drier in Argentina the next two weeks. That will allow nearly perfect harvest conditions in Argentina, with pretty much steady harvest progress likely to occur. The wet weather in Brazil will aide the second crop corn or safrina crop. So weather is favorable for South America.

As usual, political stammering is hot and heavy after the Mueller report was out over the weekend. But the rhetoric is almost the same as it was for the last two years, as if nothing at all changed in spite of all the talk about “wait until the Mueller report!” Kind of like watching two four-year-olds yell “Did not!”, “Did too!” over and over and over again. But 4-year-olds end it after a few minutes. This has lasted years already! The media loves it and is one of the biggest participators.

U.S. government and politics has become a joke, with politicians and their ‘handlers’ the punch line. As we were told once a long time ago, government is not the answer. They will take your money (taxes), send your sons to die at their wars, seize your property, and want you to bow to them. Socialism (more government) and communism (even more government) is not the answer. We need less government — less people who want to spend our money — because always, sooner or later, governments run out of other people’s money to spend. But they never seem to tire of collecting and spending it! It’s no different today than it was thousands of years ago.

They say history repeats itself. In this regard, we (the world population) are all fools for relearning the same things, over and over and over again for thousands of years. As the saying goes, the greatest lie ever told is “I’m with the government, and I’m here to help.”

Ray Grabanski can be reached at raygrabanski@progressiveag.com.

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