Fueled by robust domestic and export demand, corn and soybean prices are holding at surprisingly strong levels heading into the planting season, according to agricultural economists. Those prices, they said, may offer Iowa farmers a good opportunity to lock in profits on a portion of the crop they expect to harvest in 2014.

"I think it’s a very good idea to look at some pre-harvest marketing to gen­­erate cash to offset some of your expenses next fall and winter," said Steven Johnson, an Iowa State Uni­versity (ISU) Extension farm man­­agement specialist for central Iowa. "The market right now is really providing an opportunity to lock in some profits."

Demand driven

It’s a profit opportunity that many market watchers did not expect to see.

After last year’s big harvests packed bins, the prevailing view among analysts was that...