The crazy wild explosion in oats continued this week, with oats climbing an unprecedented 60 cents per bushel higher than corn.
It’s counterintuitive for oats to be worth more than corn and goes against economic laws. The adage “oats know,” which is based on the historical tendency for its price moves to precede moves in other grains, especially corn, makes the size and timing of the jump catch even more attention.
Few explanations have been accepted for the rally so far. However, previous sharp rises in oats have been associated with transportation problems in Canada (a major exporter with limited rail space), and the drought and extreme heat.
Others have attributed it to a “short squeeze,” a type of panic buying that occurs when a major market participant sells a portion of a commodity they don’t yet own. Those who are short are forced to chase prices higher to “cover” their short positions. Short squeezes often end in a blow-off top and downward price swing, causing many traders to remain especially alert and cautious.
Oats, while a popular human cereal, are primarily used in animal feeds.
Their high fiber, starch and 17% protein content create a nutritious combination for horses, cattle, sheep and poultry. They are packed with manganese, phosphorus, B vitamins, antioxidants and soluble fiber, which lowers cholesterol levels. Their fat or oil content is higher than other cereals, and provides energy value for both livestock and people.
Oats for December delivery traded for $5.70 per bushel Friday afternoon, whereas December corn brought $5.27 a bushel.
Watch out for farmers on the road
Agriculture is the most dangerous American business sector, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And this time of year -- harvest season -- is hectic.
So to help raise awareness and celebrate the farmers who help put food on our tables, the White House has proclaimed a National Farm Safety and Health week each year since 1944. One of the highlighted topics this year is rural road safety.
The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety urges drivers to be cautious on rural roads to help save lives. Safety suggestions include not using cell phones while behind the wheel, allowing farm equipment a lot of space, using headlights and wearing seat belts, even if going a short distance.
Walt Breitinger is a commodity futures broker in Valparaiso. He can be reached at (800) 411-3888 or www.indianafutures.com. This is not a solicitation of any order to buy or sell any market.