Often the case, the winter wheat planting season presents the promise of lower wheat prices ahead. In September 2007, for instance, the nearby Kansas City futures contract was trading at $8.07 per bu while the July 2008 contract was $5.48. The discount reflected a view at the time that prices would return to historical averages in line with the adage “the best cure for high prices is high prices.”

New crop contracts similarly were at discounts to the nearby future in 2006 and 2005. This pattern has not continued in recent years, and the Sept. 13 close for the K.C. July 2013 contract was $8.98, not far below nearby price of $9.23.

Varied factors account for the disappearance of market inverses in recent years, including a mixture of tight world supplies, unprecedented corn market strength, the attractiveness to grain elevator managers of wheat as a crop to carry and early season concern about new crop wheat prospects. The latter situation has changed in recent days with rains across the southern Plains brightening the 2013 hard winter crop picture to a degree. Still other global factors such as dryness in western Australia and nervous questions about Russia’s wheat export intentions into 2013 have made projecting deferred prices into 2013-14 a veritable minefield and have left deferred costs extremely high.