June 28, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 394

Grains Muted Overnight in Listless Trading

Spring Wheat Continues its Climb

Grains were muted overnight in listless trade except in spring wheat which continued to march higher to its own drumbeat.


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Corn was holding solid gains mid-day on Tuesday but new data from the weather model showed much cooler temps in the Plains and Western Cornbelt than had been previously forecast. That information sent corn prices retreating and they have been unable to muster a rally since.


In Russia, the wheat harvest is underway with yields coming in lower than last year. According to the Ag Ministry as of June 27, farmers had harvested 229,000 tonnes of grain by bunker weight from 54,000 hectares with an average yield of 4.24 tonnes per hectare. This compares to 2.1 million tonnes reaped from 486,000 hectares with an average yield of 4.36 tonnes per hectare at the same date in 2016.


Over the next two weeks weather continues to look fairly favorable for major corn producing states. Nebraska has the most heat in the top 3 states, but even there high temps are expected to only briefly see above 90 degrees. However, rainfall for the two week forecast has been lowered from yesterday’s model in NE showing only 1.5” of rain vs 2.5” yesterday.



The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. Grain Hedge is a Branch of Foremost Trading LLC (NFA ID: 0307930)

June 27, 2017 | Kevin McNew | Views: 604
June 27, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 283

Crop Progress Report Shows Below Expectations for Soybeans and Wheat

July Heat is Expected to Intensify in the Upper Plains

Grains were higher overnight buoyed by lower than expected crop ratings from USDA.


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Monday’s crop progress report from USDA showed crop conditions that were below expectations yet again. Corn conditions came in unchanged at 67% but below analysts estimates which looked for a bump up to 68%. For soybeans, conditions slipped to 66% off of last week’s rating of 67% and below the 68% mark expected. Spring wheat continued to see eroding scores hitting 40%, below expectations of 41% which was the reading last week.


Weather in the US should remain favorable for the rest of the week. But as the calendar turns to July, heat is expected to intensify, especially in the Upper Plains and parts of the Western Cornbelt. Mid next week should bring some 90 degree readings to the heart of the grain belt and the Plains are expected to soar into the 100s for 3 days running.


South Korea's KOCOPIA purchased about 60,000 MT of corn expected to be sourced from South America in a tender which closed on Tuesday, European traders said. Consultancy Strategie Grains cut its forecast for the 2017 French soft wheat crop by 1.6 MMT from its mid-June estimate to factor in damage from a recent hot spell. Laurine Simon said the consultancy now expects France, the EU largest producer of the grain, to harvest 35.6 MMT of soft wheat, against a 37.2 MMT forecast in its monthly report released on June 15.


The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. Grain Hedge is a Branch of Foremost Trading LLC (NFA ID: 0307930)

June 26, 2017 | Tech Talk | Greg Martinelli | Views: 10458

CRM: A Love/Hate Relationship - Part 3

Best practices to successfully launch a CRM program in agribusiness

CRM: A Love/Hate Relationship - Part 3

“Why won’t the sales team log customer calls into the new CRM program?”  “Why doesn’t the data in our accounting program match the CRM dashboard?” “How do we make this program more user friendly?” “How do we take advantage of all the “Bells & Whistles” we were promised?” “Why did we buy this program if we’re not going to use it the right way?”

These questions crop up every time you go through a CRM program launch.  Over the course of launching them with three different teams, I can attest that it’s frustrating at first for everyone.  Especially in agribusiness where you have a sales team that works from their home office.  They are in their car most days calling on customers.  “Who has time to turn on a laptop and log a call during the day?” In agribusiness, we also have remote management teams that work from multiple locations.  They too, will struggle to deal with the CRM launch.

In part one, we covered components of CRM you hate.  In part two, we covered components of CRM that you love.  We covered ways that a CRM program helps you become better, faster and more organized for your customers.  Today, we cover best practices on launching and sustaining a CRM program.


Best Practices

  1.  Get Input 

Want buy-in from the field?  Include them in the decision.  Better yet, Beta test several programs with them to see which is best.  Too often, the decision is not made with input.  Then we wonder why we don’t get buy-in from the sales team or first line managers. Make them part of the decision. 


  1. Leadership Commitment

The launch and sustainment of a CRM program starts and ends with the leadership of the company.  They have to be bought in, use it and reinforce the benefits from the program.  Otherwise, it sends the signal that it’s not important and employees will “wait it out” to see if the program will eventually just go away.


  1. Show the Value

Please, don’t come out and tell your team the reason we are launching CRM is in case employees leave the company, we won’t lose all that customer knowledge.  Why do I say this?  Because I’ve heard it said several times.  It gets zero buy-in. That might be a benefit for the company, but the sales and management teams that execute the CRM program don’t see it as an advantage.  That’s what the CRM company told you when they sold you on it.  Instead, promote the advantages of saving time, being more effective in managing their customer, coordinating team efforts to satisfy more customers, etc.


  1. Link Your Accounting Program to the CRM Program

Mentioned previously, this is critical to your team seeing the complete value of the program.  It also saves a lot of time on entering information manually.  By bringing in sales volume and revenue, CRM is current and connected directly to the business performance.


  1. Link Your Processes to the CRM Program

CRM is not just for sales people.  Connect in your marketing and operations teammates.  Have the approval and management of their everyday processes flow through CRM.  Look for other ways that all sides of your business can contribute to the total picture of activities surrounding the customer experience.


  1. Train

Obviously, training during the launch is important.  Most companies have some initial training.  To be effective, you need to lay out a 1 or 2-year plan.  Start with the basics.  Keep it simple.  Reinforce previous lessons before beginning new training.  It has to be hands on or it will be forgotten.  Watching some expert click around on a CRM program is like watching your kids play a video game.  Looks like fun and not too complicated.  They hand you the controls and you have no idea how to play the game. 


  1. Keep It Simple

The first 6 months needs to be very simple:  customer contact information, record of sales calls and a few key dashboard dials.  While the team is gaining confidence with the program, the management team can begin learning the different ways to slice and dice the data for a more complex dashboard.  To do this, it’s critical they get training on how data is uploaded into the CRM program.  For that, I highly recommend one person become the company leader for the program.


  1. A CRM Leader

Depending on the size of the company, you might need more than one person for this role.  There are three functions for the CRM leader.  The first is administrative in nature – working with user ID’s, passwords, access levels, etc.  The second is building the bolt-on components.  The CRM program typically comes as a shell.  You have to build the links and connections from your other programs (accounting, operations, etc.) and bolt them onto the CRM program.  The last function is training and facilitation.  Again, training needs to be ongoing as new people are joining the company and your business changes over time.  The CRM leader plays a critical role in keeping the program functional for the company.  This requires facilitation with all parts of the business.


Several weeks into my third CRM launch, it dawned on me that this scenario plays out in every company that makes that leap to the future with Customer Relationship Management Programs.  As manual methods of organizing customer information are converted over to programs and data is vetted to provide real time information, a typical routine unfolds.  It’s bumpy at first.  Might even cause a few companies to abandon the approach and go back to their previous methods.  However, for those that persist, they will see a clearer and better managed customer relationship.  

June 26, 2017 | Monday Mycotoxin And Crop Report | | Views: 473
June 20, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 532

Crop Progress Report for Soybeans Shows Improved Ratings

Grains Sunk Lower in the Overnight Session

Crop Progress Report for Soybeans Shows Improved Ratings

Grains sunk lower overnight with soybeans and wheat leading the complex lower.


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On Monday after the close USDA released their crop condition report showing corn ratings unchanged on the week at 67% good-to-excellent. Traders had expected the ratings to improve to 68%. For soybeans, the ratings improved slightly to 67% from last week’s ratings of 66%. For spring wheat, another surprising drop as ratings hit 41% off from 45% last week and expectations going into the report which looked for an improvement to 47%.


Egypt announced the close of its local wheat harvest on Tuesday, having bought 3.4 MMT of wheat from farmers, Supply Minister Ali Moselhy said, just short of the government's target of 3.5-4 million. Egypt this year scrapped the subsidy it traditionally pays farmers and instead pegged the local buying price to world market prices for the grain, a measure that traders have said removed the incentive for smuggling but left the country with a lower procurement figure.


Grain cargo ships in Argentina's main shipping hub of Rosario were halted late on Monday when replacement workers filling in for striking unions walked off the job after receiving threats, the country's export chamber said. Regular port workers were on the fifth day of a wage strike on Monday when replacement workers were brought in early in the day, allowing for the resumption of some loading of freshly harvested corn and soy.


The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. Grain Hedge is a Branch of Foremost Trading LLC (NFA ID: 0307930)

June 19, 2017 | Kevin McNew | Views: 418
June 19, 2017 | Tech Talk | | Views: 969

CRM: A Love/Hate Relationship - Part 2

Now that we discussed the "hate", let’s dig into the "love" side of CRM

CRM: A Love/Hate Relationship - Part 2

It’s been said, the only thing constant, is change. It couldn’t be more true in Agribusiness. The pace of mergers & acquisitions has increased for both agribusiness and our customers. As this happens, it becomes difficult to keep track of customers and the products & services they use. In addition, grain and livestock producers are holding us to a higher standard when it comes to managing their information. As their business and ours become more complex, customers no longer want to repeat or reenter information. To be effective, our products, services and employees need to be coordinating and working in synch.

Otherwise, your customer might say: “Why doesn’t the sales coordinator know my product preferences? I gave that to my sales person last week!” “Why doesn’t the accounts receivables collection person know that I gave a check to the sales person yesterday? That’s what the sales coordinator told me to do!” “Why does the sales person call on me if I have to repeat it all to her office or plant?” Customers expect us to make it easier for them to conduct business with us.

As we merge & consolidate, customers and the administration of their accounts often change. Economies of scale may allow for your credit processing to be done in a new or consolidated location. You might give up a few of your customers and gain a few from a new sales person on your team. Let me ask, is it faster for that person to go into their home filing cabinet, pull out manual records and send them to you? Or simply, give you access to this customer’s CRM file that is backed up online?

In Part 1, we covered a few of the components about CRM you might not like. Today, we cover those components you love about CRM that helps you become better, faster and more organized for your customers.

Why We Love CRM?

One Source: All information in one place

There’s no multiple files, multiple locations nor multiple people to talk to. All account information is in one place and can be accessed by anyone in your company.

Worried about IT security or confidentiality issues? No worries. These programs can compartmentalize info for an as-needed access for each user in your company. Two critical components to actually realize this advantage:

  1. Everyone has to use it and enter information to make it effective.
  2. Accounting software has to be connected and feed data into the CRM program.

Dashboards: Ability to cross reference information

This is one of the greatest features of the CRM programs for the sales person and their manager. Dashboards allow you to compare and monitor customer, product and sales results that would take too long to process manually. With your accounting program feeding info into CRM, you can now easily sort data into dashboard style pages for quick snapshots. This allows you to stay current on Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). If a KPI falls outside of parameters, you can quickly dial down into the data to uncover what might be causing this. I admit that I was a spreadsheet junky and poured over large accounting reports for many years. I prided myself on knowing the ins and outs of how to read these reports. Then CRM came along and made it faster and easier with more current statistics. It gave me the ability to connect and sort data that was nearly impossible without CRM.

Automated: forget less – follow-up more

Even if you have one of the most elaborate methods of managing your schedule of calls, meetings and follow-up activities, you can always use a backup method. However, if you are like the majority of us, your home-made territory management methods are lacking and you often drop the ball on coordinating your schedule. Properly used, CRM gives us the ability to not only keep better control of our schedule, but also we can include other teammates in the management of the account. These programs allow you to “Tag” or “Copy” or “Inform” others on the team. You may even enjoy the ability to “Assign a Task”. So, impress your customer with your ability to forget less, personally follow up more and involve the whole team in the account. It might just be the differentiator you are looking for with a customer.


When launching a new CRM program, we often promote the positives of the program and downplay the negatives. I think that’s a mistake. Our customer-facing

employees then go out to implement the program and find the launch period to be daunting, information isn’t loaded in yet and they don’t feel comfortable with the validity of the data that is in the program. Keep the vision of what CRM has to offer and how valuable it will be as a resource for everyone, not just managers. Keep promoting the vision of how CRM will give your team a competitive advantage. Help everyone understand the learning cycle on the program.

  • Data will be loaded and accurate eventually
  • Customer info will be accessible
  • Dashboards will make customer management better, faster, easier

Join me next time as I go through best practices on launching your new CRM and implementing a program everyone can benefit from.

June 19, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 392

Hot and Dry Conditions across the Northern Plains of the Dakotas this week

Grains were Mixed to Start the Week

Hot and Dry Conditions across the Northern Plains of the Dakotas this week

Grains were mixed to start the week with corn trading lower, soybeans trading higher and wheat showing only modest gains going into the break.


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Private forecaster Planalytics sees US corn yield at 166.9, off from their last forecast of 167.4 two weeks ago and well below USDA trend yield of 170.7. Most areas of the country are doing on par with normal, except for the Northern Plains of SD & ND where hot and dry conditions are taking a toll. Yields there are expected to be 10 or more bushels below trend based on current conditions.


For soybeans, Planalytics sees a 46.8 bushel yield for the US average. This is off 0.2 bushels from their previous forecast and below USDA’s yield of 48 bushels per acre. As in the case of corn, the Dakota’s are seeing the most downside in soybean yield based on current conditions.


Weather in Western Europe is expected to get turned up this week with intense heat stress expected. Areas of France, England and Germany are expected to see highs in the mid 90s to near 100s for much of this week. Next week should see a return to Normal. In the US, two storm systems will track thru the Midwest this week bringing rain to the Ohio River Valley and Southeast. The second system will bring rains of 0.5 inches to 2 inches from Iowa and Minnesota and up thru Michigan. The Northern Plains will continue to see limited rain potential.


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June 16, 2017 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 315

Weekly Cash Comments

Weekly Cash Commentary for week ending 06/16/2017

Grain basis was mostly stable this week for corn and soybeans with neither commodity showing any strong trends on the week. On average, US corn basis was up 0.9 cents a bushel while soy basis was up 0.7 cents.


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In corn, basis levels were firmer across the Southern Plains and river terminals this week. The Gulf market inched higher by 1 cent a bushel but river terminals as a group were consistently 2 to 4 higher on the week. Meanwhile, ethanol plants as a group were mostly flat, but there was some higher bids at some plants in the WCB that ranged from 3 to 5 above last week.


For soybeans, basis levels at river terminals were a drag on the broader market as river terminals as a group sinking 3.5 cents on the week while the Gulf basis actually was bolstered by 2 cents on the week. For soy crush facilities, the basis was up 2.7 cents a bushel with 5 to 8 cent gains fairly typical across the plants in the WCB.


The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. Grain Hedge is a Branch of Foremost Trading LLC (NFA ID: 0307930)

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