Reporting From The 2009 Commodity Classic

The tradeshow was open for about four hours here in Grapevine, TX, at the Commodity Classic. Already a massive event, it got a litte bigger as sorghum growers joined the corn, soybean, and wheat associations as hosts of the conference. The tradeshow is a conglomeration of the largest agriculture companies who are rolling out their marketing messages to growers, so it can be overwhelming as you try to take it all in.

I’m here through Saturday to ferret out the headline news and underlying trends that will be affecting agriculture in 2009, with an eye toward technology. In conversations with several exhibitors, however, the talk continues to be about the logjam of fertilizer and crop protection products in storage and waiting for demand that everyone knows will come but has not yet started. The concern is that if the price standoff is not jarred free relatively soon, it will create deeper logistical nightmares in many growing areas — worse than what was already expected based on the poor fall fertilizer season retailers experienced last year.

I asked everyone I talked to for a prediction on when it might break, and the best I managed to get was a smile, a chuckle, a shaking of the head and a shrug of the shoulders. Literally, no one’s venturing any guess, on or off the record.

One light in the tunnel? A later spring might stretch out the season. But we all know what happens when you leave things to Mother Nature.

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