Art of Grain Merchandising

Roger Gattis

Recent Posts

Plug the Leak & Build Higher Sides

Posted by Roger Gattis

Feb 27, 2017 3:08:59 PM

On the farm, you’re likely never very far off from having to plug the next leak. The tire on the planter, the head gasket on the service truck or that hydraulic hose on the tractor; it seems like there is always something leaking, at least that’s how it was around our place! The instance that comes to mind from my childhood is that of a small, leaking cattle pond on a piece of ground dad bought. When the spring rains came that pond would not only fill up, but it would easily overflow due to its shallow banks. The greater tragedy was that not only could it not hold more of that runoff, but that it also had a slow leak so that by early summer, just as we needed that water the most, the pond was nearly dry. Dad would say that pond got us “comin’ and goin’”. Knowing full well that bemoaning the fact that this scene played out year after year would do absolutely nothing to fix the problem, dad decided to do something to remedy the situation. And as he knew from personal experience the yearly cycle of spring rains and summer droughts so prevalent in western Arkansas, he had high certainty to believe that this cycle would repeat again the upcoming year.

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Topics: Grain Origination, Farmer Marketing

Grain Origination Comprehension and Competency

Posted by Roger Gattis

Jul 19, 2016 11:00:00 AM

As a member of the grain elevator community, we often wear multiple hats over the course of a season; accountant, PR rep, grader, dispatcher, merchandiser, etc. Sometimes we have no choice but to wear all the hats simultaneously (looking at you, feedmill-rejected truck load of wet corn at 5:00 on a Friday). However, this time of year a lot of us are focusing pretty hard on one job in particular; that of the grain originator. Ever since the first market rally of the spring a few months ago efforts to get grain bought have kicked into high gear. Coupled with the fact that we now stand on the cusp of what appears to be another good crop, now is a critical time to determine just how effective your origination program truly is. If we do indeed have a big crop, the situation is shaping up to be one in which bushels could be competing for space, instead of the other way around. Does your origination plan address this possibility; that is, are you in a position to control your space and help the farmer sell profitability when the opportunity arises?

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Farm Marketing: The 5 Steps You Must Take Today

Posted by Roger Gattis

Mar 1, 2016 11:00:00 AM

If there is anything that the past several seasons of farming has taught us, it’s that there is indeed nothing new under the sun. Looking back, the “new plateau” for grain prices which we heard so much about in the halcyon days of 2007 and 2008 has manifested itself on the price charts of history more in the shape of Mt. Everest; running up quickly, seemingly holding their own only to fall nearly as fast as they rose back to the levels most would call “normal”. While this transition back into an environment more in line with the long term tendencies of a commodity cycle directly influenced by the basic economic tenets of supply and demand has been less than welcomed wholeheartedly, it is indeed the world we are residing in today. Although it is true the days of being rewarded in spite of not having a grain marketing plan are behind us, it certainly does not mean that there aren’t opportunities for the producer who has a plan for dealing with adversity.

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Don’t Play The Victim: Grain Merchandising Through Adversity Requires A Plan

Posted by Roger Gattis

Oct 13, 2015 11:00:00 AM

This year many of the ghosts of grain merchandising past have revisited us; low cash prices, higher than normal harvest basis levels, uncertainty of spread needs due to delayed ownership and fluctuating price later charges.  Now none of these haunts are new to those of us who’ve been trading grain for any length of time, but it has been quite a spell since all of these forces have presented such a united front against us in the same season. 

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Topics: Grain Merchandising

Is Your Grain Merchandising Plan In a 4-Alarm Emergency or Fire Drill?

Posted by Roger Gattis

Jun 30, 2015 11:00:00 AM

When was the last time you actually walked through your merchandising plan? In the midst of the lackadaisical pricing environment of this past spring, did you stay on top of things, or did you figure that, since you weren’t busy with merchandising grain, everyone else must be in the same boat so nothing has changed?

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Five Grain Merchandising Questions You Must Address NOW

Posted by Roger Gattis

Jun 2, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Despite the general feeling of malaise in the grain business that is currently affecting much of the country, it is important to put such an observation into proper perspective. While it is true that, thus far, the year 2015 has proved to present a far greater challenge for grain merchandising than in the recent past, it is not altogether a place most have never visited. In retrospect, the last several years have made the activity of buying and selling grain easy, almost too easy, even to the point where perhaps some were lured into the belief that not much effort or skill was involved in the process. I’d venture to say that those same folks might now be at a loss at how to handle the present situation, and those who’ve been around a while may be realizing that some of those skills developed during the pre-2007 years have begun to atrophy just a bit.

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The World Beyond the Driveway: The Full Grain Merchandising Picture

Posted by Roger Gattis

Apr 14, 2015 11:00:00 AM

It’s that time of year again, and depending on your local crop insurance agent’s vacation schedule and Mother Nature’s temperament, seed is going in the ground. Spring typically marks the advent of the Knowing Season, that time when each consecutive day divulges a little more information about the upcoming crops’ progress, condition and their perceived final outcomes. We like to think that, in our own backyard, we have a firm understanding of this process: we see the planter marks in the fields as we drive to work, we share in the local discussions on weather patterns at the elevator, we know who has and who hasn’t begun to cover inputs with forward contracts. In many instances, we know whose banker is getting nervous and whose landlords are in for a rude awakening this year. In this aspect we are well versed, indeed, we ARE the experts.

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Navigating the Seas and Ponds of Farm Marketing

Posted by Roger Gattis

Mar 24, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Wait and see. I’d bet dollars to donuts that if you’re in the business of merchandising grain for a living, you’ve heard this refrain (or something similar) since last harvest. Wait and see. I submit that while our producers may be saying this, what they’re actually communicating is that the weight of their situation is dragging them to the bottom of the sea (metaphorically only, I hope)! No, prices aren’t all that great today and nobody is likely to sell any old or new crop grain right now, but why let the situation dictate the course of your origination program or the farm marketing plan?

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Was 2014 Your Grain Merchandising Masterpiece?

Posted by Roger Gattis

Dec 30, 2014 11:00:00 AM

As the year end draws nigh, it can be beneficial for those both who have been blessed with a stellar year merchandising grain as well as those who have ridden a wave of uncertainty into the twilight of 2014, to take stock of where they are at this moment.

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Black Bears, Yellow Corn, and Grain Marketing Hibernation

Posted by Roger Gattis

Dec 9, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Resisting the urge to float the current of all things holly and jolly, I have found a more unique, if not better, analogy for describing some of our producers in the current environment than convincing everyone to be the Santa Claus bearing bushels for all the good end users of the world; black bears and hibernation.

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Topics: Grain Origination, Farmer Marketing