Agriculture markets can be somewhat predictable as they are on a set seasonal planting, growing, and harvesting cycle. Historical data allows farmers and traders to generally see what months certain things should occur for the best economic result. Many farmers do their best to stay within those windows of activity, while also reacting to the unpredictable weather, changes in international supply and demand, and any other unforeseen circumstances. A trader then has the challenge of trying to predict the farmers' actions, which can be difficult without the time or the resources to properly watch the market. Here at RJO Futures we have brokers who spend their entire day educating clients, interpreting reports, and thinking up trades best suited for the current climate of each market.
Corn - Known as the largest revenue-generating crop in the US, corn is popular for speculators and hedgers alike. The US planting season starts in April and ends in early June with July through August being the critical period of the growing season. Once late August to early September hit, there isn't much that can affect the final yield outcome. With growing interest in ethanol as well as the constant need for feed, this is a contract to watch.
Wheat - Wheat is an International crop, with worldwide planting and consumption needs. There are five major classes of wheat in the US, including hard red winter, soft red winter, hard red spring, white and durum wheat. Though wheat is a hardy plant, the final yield can be affected by winterkill, drought, or excessive moisture.
Soybeans - Regarded as the second largest revenue-generating crop for the US, soybeans are a multipurpose crop. Once harvested, soybeans are either crushed into soymeal, which is used for feed, or soybean oil. Soybean oil is used for food oils, paint, plastics, and bio-diesel production.
Live Cattle - Live cattle futures are widely-traded commodities futures contracts, referring to cattle (cows) that have reached the requisite weight for slaughter, or about 600 to 800 pounds, which takes about six to ten months. Live cattle futures are delivered every year in February, April, June, August, October and December.