At the finish, Mar 15 London wheat was down GBP0.45/tonne at GBP116.75/tonne;
Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR0.75/tonne lower at EUR187.50/tonne; Mar 15 Paris
corn was EUR1.50/tonne easier at EUR146.25/tonne; May 15 Paris rapeseed was
EUR1.00/tonne higher at EUR365.75/tonne.
The HGCA reported winter wheat plantings in England and Wales as of Dec 1 at
1.69 million hectares, a 7% decline year-on-year. Winter barley plantings were
up slightly on 370k ha a year ago at 371k ha, which is the largest area since
2003, they say. Winter OSR plantings of 633k ha are 1% down compared to the
area of both winter and spring OSR harvested in 2014.
The decline in wheat plantings is a little surprising, although the final area
could alter allowing for crops planted after Dec 1 and possibly a small spring
As of Dec 1, the total area planted with wheat, winter barley, oats and oilseed
rape was 2.776 million ha, 5% less than the total area of these crops harvested
in 2014, they estimate.
"Potential factors include increased interest in cultural controls for
weeds and diseases, particularly black-grass, as well as changes to the economics
for the whole rotation. The higher yields of winter crops are worth comparatively
less at lower prices – increasing the incentive to plant spring crops.
The introduction of the three-crop rule as part of the latest changes to the
Common Agricultural Policy may also have had an impact,” the HGCA said.
Ukraine growers wondering how they are going to finance their spring planting
and crop treatment campaign woke up to a nasty shock this morning. The Ukraine
government hiked interest rates overnight from 19.5% to 30%.
UkrAgroConsult yesterday forecast Ukraine's 2015 OSR production to fall 23%
to 1.7 MMT. Less than half the winter crop is said to be in good condition.
That potentially leaves Europe looking elsewhere to cover the shortfall, as
most of Ukraine's annual OSR exports usually end up here. Ukraine typically
account for around 14% of all global rapeseed exports, according to the HGCA.
Ukraine's Ag Ministry said that the country had exported 24.68 MMT of grains
so far this season, including 9.29 MMT of wheat, 3.87 MMT of barley and 11.27
MMT of corn.
It seems unlikely that they will manage to attain those sort of levels in 2015/16.
Yields look set to be lower, and quality could be an even bigger issue given
that growers are likely to be forced to reduce fertiliser and agrochemical applications.
This situation is also likely to be replicated in Russia this spring. The Russian
Ministry for Economic Development said today that fertiliser prices in the country
rose 9.8% in January and are up 45.2% year-on-year. Loan rates there are said
to be running at around 25-30%. Russian inflation meanwhile rose by its highest
monthly rate since 1999 in January.
At the finish, Mar 15 London wheat was GBP0.25/tonne firmer at GBP117.20/tonne,
Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR0.50/tonne higher at EUR185.25/tonne, Mar 15 Paris
corn was down EUR0.50/tonne at EUR147.75/tonne and May 15 Paris rapeseed also
fell EUR0.50/tonne to EUR364.75/tonne.
Significant fresh news was once again lacking.
Egypt's GASC bought 110,000 MT of Russian and Ukraine origin wheat in a tender.
This was for grain that was already stored in the country on a free on truck
The Ukraine Ag Ministry said that they expect higher winter wheat losses than
normal this year, according to Agritel.
UkrAgroConsult said Ukraine exported 2.963 MMT of grain in February, of which
681,000 MT was wheat.
They estimated Ukraine’s 2015 rapeseed production at 1.7 MMT versus 2.2
MMT in 2014.
APK Inform said that Ukraine had exported a record 8.4 MMT of wheat in he Jul14/Jan15
period, a 22% increase on the same period in 2013/14.
Russia also exported a record 18 MMT in the same period, up 35% versus a year
previously, they added.
Russia's Ag Ministry said that agricultural lending for the 2015 sowing campaign
is down by a third compared to a year ago. That's a very significant amount
considering that the vale of the rouble has plummeted in the last 12 months,
making the cost of sowing in real terms anywhere between 40-100% higher than
a year ago.
Russia only managed to pick up 3,105 MT of grain at today's intervention purchase
Fresh news was generally lacking to start the week.
Ukraine seaports exported 459.2 TMT of grains last week, down from 587.6 TMT
the previous week, according to APK Inform. Last week's total included 125.3
TMT of wheat and 333.9 TMT of corn.
Exports for the season so far are now 24.3 MMT, of which 9.2 MMT is wheat.
3.9 MMT is barley and 10.9 MMT is corn. This time a year ago shipments were
around 24 MMT, including 7.3 MMT of wheat, 2.1 MMT of barley and 14.2 MMT of
Russia has exported a similar volume to Ukraine so far this year (24.2 MMT),
including 18.8 MMT of wheat, 3.7 MMT of barley and 1.4 MMT of corn.
The weather in southern Russia and Ukraine is said to be turning warmer and
wetter, which should enable a better assessment to be made of winter sown grain
crop conditions and aid spring fieldwork.
The Ukraine Ministry said hat fertiliser applications had been completed on
around 2 million ha of winter crops, out of a planted area of almost 9 million
ha. Crop conditions remain at 82% good to satisfactory and 18% poor, they said.
UkrAgroConsult said that Ukraine's 2015 barley crop could fall to 7.0 MMT versus
9.0 MMT in 2014.
The Russian newspaper "Vedomosti" said that the average Russian will
spend 50-55% of their household income on food by the end of 2015, up from 36-40%
at the end of 2014.
Oil World estimated global rapeseed production at 69.1 MMT in 2014/15, up from
a previous forecast of 68.5 MMT, but down from 70.2 MMT the year before. World
rapeseed usage this season is seen at 66.9 MMT.
At the finish, Mar 15 London wheat was up GBP0.65/tonne at GBP116.80/tonne;
Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR2.00/tonne higher at EUR187.50/tonne; Mar 15 Paris
corn was EUR1.00/tonne firmer at EUR149.50/tonne; May 15 Paris rapeseed was
EUR5.75/tonne higher at EUR368.25/tonne.
For the week, London wheat fell GBP3.70/tonne, Paris wheat was up EUR1.75/tonne,
corn fell EUR1.75/tonne and rapeseed rose EUR10.25/tonne.
For the month of February, London wheat lost GBP5.30/tonne, Paris wheat gained
EUR2.00/tonne, corn fell EUR4.25/tonne and rapeseed added EUR18.00/tonne.
Sterling closed at another new highest since late 2007 tonight, close to 1.38
versus 1.33 at the end of last month, which helps explain why London wheat is
down and Paris wheat up during the course of the month.
The weak euro helped EU soft wheat export licences top 900,000 MT for a third
time this marketing year for the week ending Feb 24. Total soft wheat exports
this season are now 20.8 MMT, which is 600,000 MT ahead of this time last year.
Reports out of Ukraine suggest that growers there will probably plant a similar
spring grain area to that of a year ago, but that yields will likely be lower
due to a decline in fertiliser and plant protection applications due to in some
cases a lack of availability, and in others simply cost. A year ago you needed
less than 10 Ukraine hryvnia to buy one US dollar, today you need more than
33 of them.
Russian growers also look set to face similar issues with regards to spring
plantings. Despite government assurances that short-term loans are available
to fund plantings and other farm inputs at subsidised rates, private sources
say that getting access to these funds is extremely difficult "unless you
are Putin's best mate"!
The Russian Ag Ministry said that the country had exported only 322,000 MT
of wheat Feb 1-25, a 57% fall versus the same period in 2014, due to the new
Total grain exports this season might reach 28.5 MMT, of which 20 MMT will
be wheat,they said. Exports so far this season are at 24.2 MMT, including 18.8
MMT of wheat.
The Russian farmers' reluctance to sell his grain does however mean that 2014/15
ending stocks could be unusually high, at around 17 MMT including 8 MMT of wheat,
the Ministry estimate - even if most of it will be in private hands rather than
the government's intervention stores.
FranceAgriMer said that 97% of the French winter wheat crop is tillering, up
2 points from a week ago and 4 points ahead of last year. Winter barley is 99%
tillering, the same as a year ago. Spring barley planting is already 23% complete,
up 13 points in a week and 20 points ahead of this time last year.
Winter wheat rated good to very good fell one point from last week to 90%,
although that's well ahead of only 73% this time last year. Winter barley rated
good to very good was also seen down a point on last week to 90% versus 72%
a year ago.
At the close, Mar 15 London wheat was GBP2.00/tonne easier at GBP118.50/tonne,
Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR1.00/tonne lower at EUR184.75/tonne, Mar 15 Paris
corn was down EUR1.75/tonne at EUR149.50/tonne and May 15 Paris rapeseed fell
EUR1.50/tonne to EUR356.50/tonne.
For London wheat this was the fist sub-GBP120/tonne close for a front month
since Nov 11. It was also the first time we've seen Paris corn close below EUR150/tonne
since Nov 19.
The EU Commission's MARS unit released their latest crop report today, in which
they said "for the EU, our frost-kill model to date suggests only local
and limited frost-kill crop damages in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Poland."
"However, the north-eastern regions of Ukraine, and especially southern
Russia, appear to be considerably affected by frost kill. These regions were
affected by severe frosts until mid-January, when the snow cover was inadequate
to protect the crops, which were vulnerable due to their weak establishment
as a consequence of insufficient rains and dry soil conditions during the start
of the winter cropping season," they noted.
The Russian Ag Ministry said last week that winter grain production there could
fall by around 40% in 2015/16 you may recall. The market however seems to be
more preoccupied with other matters for the time being.
Closer to home, crop conditions appear better than they were 12 months ago
in France. FranceAgriMer said on Friday that 91% of their winter wheat crop
was rated good to very good, up from 74% this time last year. The French winter
barley crop was also rated 91% good to very good compared to 73% a year ago.
They estimated spring barley planting at 9% complete, which is 7 points ahead
of this time in 2014.
They also said that 95% of the French winter wheat crop is at the tillering
stage versus 89% a year ago, whilst 98% of the winter barley crop is tillering,
the same as this time last year.
Ukraine seaports exported 857.6 TMT of grains last week, according to APK Inform.
That's up sharply from the 574.8 TMT exported the previous week. Wheat accounted
for 18% (158.1 TMT) of last week's total and corn 74% (634.5 TMT). Corn's share
of the export market the previous week was 80%. They also exported 65 TMT of
barley last week.
Ukraine's total grain exports to date this season now stand at 23.7 MMT, according
to the Ag Ministry. That total includes more than 9 MMT of wheat, 3.8 MMT of
barley and 10.6 MMT of corn.
Russia's exports via seaports meanwhile fell to 236.2 TMT last week from 401.6
TMT the previous week. Wheat accounted for 37.5% (89 TMT) of that total, barley
42% (99.4 TMT) and corn 18% (43.3 TMT).
There's some trade chatter that Russia may be considering extending the recently
introduced duty on wheat exports to also include corn and barley.
The day ended with Mar 15 London wheat down GBP1.20/tonne at GBP120.50/tonne,
Mar 15 Paris wheat was down EUR1.50/tonne at EUR185.75/tonne, Mar 15 Paris corn
fell EUR1.75/tonne to EUR151.25/tonne and May 15 Paris rapeseed was up EUR0.50/tonne
For the week that puts London wheat GBP2.25/tonne lower, with Paris wheat down
EUR1.25/tonne, corn falling EUR1.75/tonne and rapeseed EUR0.75/tonne higher.
Fresh news was relatively scarce. The FTSE 100 closed at 15 year highs, and
just 15 points short of an all-time high. Equities appear to be offering investors
better potential returns than the grain markets it would seem.
Volume has been light this week, with the US closed on Monday, Brazil off on
holiday Monday and Tuesday, China now closed until late next week for their
Lunar New Year celebrations and some UK traders absent all week due to the half-term
Under those circumstances, the EU has done rather well to continue to pick
up some good export business.
Brussels confirmed yesterday that EU soft wheat exports are now running ahead
of even last year's record pace. Egypt bought 240,000 MT of EU wheat yesterday,
Algeria purchased 400,000 MT of what is widely believed to be French wheat yesterday
too, and today it was announced that Morocco had bought 363,500 MT of EU wheat
under a preferential tariff agreement.
Russia said that 21.2% of its winter grain crops were in poor condition. The
Russian Ministry said that winter grain production could fall around 40% this
year. They also today forecast spring grain and pulse plantings to fall 2.2%
to just over 31 million hectares.
The Russian economy continues to look shaky, with Moody's today downgrading
their sovereign credit rating to "junk" status.
In previous years the vibe out of Russia would have triggered a flood of spec
money into the wheat market, but this far there's hardly been a trickle.
The situation in Ukraine remains tense, with their PM saying that the "agreed"
ceasefire is "non-existent". Pro-Russian rebels are said to be amassing
forces close to the strategic port of Mariupol on the Azov Sea as they prepare
to attempt to take it under their control.
Private reports out of Ukraine and Russia suggest that there are a variety
of problems sourcing the materials needed to fund the spring planting campaign.
High prices, lack of seed, fertiliser and agrochemicals, a shortage of fuel,
lack of credit and some suppliers reneging on previously agreed contracts now
that prices have risen substantially all getting a mention.
For now though the market either seems to not know, or not care, about these
At the finish, Mar 15 London wheat was up GBP1.05/tonne to GBP121.07/tonne;
Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR1.50/tonne higher at EUR187.50/tonne; Mar 15 Paris
corn was EUR0.25/tonne firmer at EUR153.00/tonne; May 15 Paris rapeseed was
also EUR0.25/tonne higher at EUR357.50/tonne.
After the markets closed, news emerged that the cheapest French wheat offer
in the GASC tender was under $225/tonne, miles below the best US offer yesterday
of $287/tonne, re-affirming the competitiveness of EU wheat. And these offers
don't even take into account the extra cost of shipping wheat from the US.
Late in the day it was announced that Egypt in the end had bought 240 TMT of
wheat, all of EU origin, split 180 TMT of French and 60 TMT from Romania.
Other supportive news came from Brussels, which released almost 900 TMT of
soft wheat export licences this past week. That takes the season to date total
to 19.9 MMT, a 3.1% advance on this time last year - which was of course a record
Algeria said that it had bought 400 TMT of wheat for June shipment in a tender,
with French origin the most likely victor. Jordan said that it had bought 100
TMT of optional origin feed barley for August shipment. Tunisia seeks 59,000
MT of optional origin durum wheat for March-April shipment.
The Russian Ag Ministry said that they might adjust the new export duty on
wheat next month, depending on export data from February.
Agritel raised their forecast for Russian wheat exports in 2014/15 from 18
MMT to 19.5 MMT, lowering ending stocks by a corresponding amount to 10.32 MMT.
In Ukraine, they increased their barley export estimate from 3.5 MMT to 4.0
MMT, and raised their outlook on corn exports from 15.5 MMT to 17.5 MMT.
Oil World said that the EU exported 489 TMT of OSR to non-EU homes in the first
half of 2014/15 (Jul-Dec), more than double the volume shipped out 12 months
previously. The top home was Turkey taking 194 TMT, followed by Pakistan (142
TMT) and the UAE (86 TMT).
Back to Europe, prospects for wheat production this year are not as good as
they were 12 months ago, say Martell Crop Projections:
"Europe produced a record large wheat harvest last season 155.9 MMT, but
the new crop outlook is reduced due to erratic planting rains in the fall.
"Excellent wheat establishment in fall of 2013 contributed to the very
productive wheat yields. Rainfall was rather evenly distributed across the vast
wheat belt, encouraging favourable growth and development. Moderate temperatures
further contributed to a productive crop, reducing evaporation and conserving
"By contrast, fall growing conditions this year were either too dry (northern
Europe) or too wet (southern Europe) interfering with wheat establishment. Furthermore
developing wheat was hampered by unseasonable heat, compared to 2013 when fall
temperatures were moderate.
"A fall satellite vegetation image, obtained from the STAR Global Satellite
Applications and Research, valid in late November, confirmed worse wheat conditions
than the year earlier.
"If wheat is poorly established in the fall, the chances for a productive
yield are much reduced. Based on this concept, the 2015 wheat harvest in Europe
is expected to finish below last year's bumper crop," they conclude.
At the close, Mar 15 London wheat was GBP2.45/tonne easier at GBP120.65/tonne,
Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR2.25/tonne lower at EUR185.75/tonne, Mar 15 Paris
corn was down EUR0.25/tonne at EUR152.75/tonne and May 15 Paris rapeseed rose
EUR0.50/tonne to EUR357.25/tonne.
The market is looking for direction. Maybe the upcoming USDA Outlook Forum
on Thursday and Friday might provide it, but I wouldn't hold your breath.
Winter crops are still largely dormant, and it may take until spring arrives
and these can be fully assessed for condition before we really do get some clear
market direction. The state of play with crops in Russia and Ukraine will be
top of my watch-list.
Meanwhile, closer to home, FranceAgriMer reported French winter wheat plantings
up 2.7% at 5.4 million hectares, with winter OSR sowings down 2% to 1.39 million
ha, and the winter barley area up 3.1% to 1.27 million ha.
They estimated French 2014/15 soft wheat exports outside the EU at 9.8 MMT
versus a previous estimate of 8.8 MMT. That extra export interest now helps
lower soft wheat ending stocks to 3.63 MMT versus a previous estimate of 4.34
French barley ending stocks are now seen higher at 1.74 MMT versus a previous
estimate of 1.49 MMT, and corn ending stocks are also forecast higher than previously
at 4.15 MMT versus 3.99 MMT a month ago.
Ukraine said that they'd exported almost 23.4 MMT of grains so far this season
(to Feb 17), including just over 9 MMT of wheat, 3.8 MMT of barley and 10.3
MMT of corn.
The Ukraine Ministry of Economic Development raised their forecast for 2014/15
total grain exports to a record 37.9 MMT, including 12.8 MMT of wheat, 4.2 MMT
of barley and 20.2 MMT of corn. These numbers match the export limits said to
have been agreed between the Ag Ministry and traders in late January.
Let them export it all now, the smaller Ukraine's carryover stocks at the end
of the current season the better, for those hoping for higher prices to come
Russia's intervention purchasing isn't going well at all. Today they only managed
to pick up 675 MT, taking the total bought since Sep 30 to less than 355 TMT
out of a government target of 2.5-3.0 MMT.
Jordan bought 100,000 MT of feed barley of optional origin for August shipment.
Egypt's GASC cancelled a tender to buy US only wheat due to the high prices
News that UK inflation fell to its lowest level on record in January (0.3%)
seemed to make little difference to sterling, which was up a tad against the
dollar, and a bit lower versus the euro.
US markets re-opened on a firmer footing following yesterday's holiday.
The situation remains tense in Ukraine with both sides blaming the other for
failing to adhere to the fragile ceasefire, and neither complying with the Monday
night deadline to start withdrawing heavy weaponry from the front line.
UkrAgroConsult said that 20% of Ukraine's winter rapeseed crops are in a poor
state, which is four times more than this time last year. The Ukraine Ag Ministry
say that 18% of winter grains are in a similar condition.
Given the fact that the domestic currency has fallen from around 8 versus the
US dollar to something like 26 in the last 12 months, inflation running at around
25% and forecast to go higher, and the fighting in the east of the country,
there has to be significant doubts over 2015 crop production prospects in the
I read today of one Ukraine agri company in the Kharkiv region (to the north
of the main fighting and rebel held area) saying that they expect to sharply
reduce their spring plantings this year due to "significant difficulties
purchasing raw materials and technical resources". Their spring barley
are will more than halve and corn plantings will be down by more than two thirds.
Similar comments about Ukraine continue to apply to Russia, despite the Ministry
of Economic Development forecasting 2015 grain production to only drop 4.5%
to 100.5 MMT this year. Around 21% of winter grains in Russia are in an "unsatisfactory"
condition, they say.
The Russian government say that they are allocating RUB35.7 billion (around
$567 million) to subsidise agricultural producers across all sectors of the
industry this year. Where that money will come from, and if it really is readily
available is unclear.
Currency weakness and inflation are problems here too, discouraging Russian
farmers from selling what they have left of the 2014 harvest.
The Russian government only picked up 1,215 MT of grains at today's intervention
purchase round, taking the total bought so far to only 354 TMT out of an intended
target of 2.5-3.0 MMT.
Algeria announced a tender for milling wheat for June shipment. Bangladesh
cancelled their tender to purchase wheat on a technicality, but are expected
to re-tender again in the next few days. French wheat won their business last
time they bought and is expected to figure again.
At the finish, Mar 15 London wheat was up GBP0.80/tonne to GBP123.55/tonne;
Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR2.00/tonne higher at EUR189.00/tonne; Mar 15 Paris
corn was EUR0.25/tonne lower at EUR152.75/tonne; May 15 Paris rapeseed was down
EUR0.75/tonne to EUR356.50/tonne.
Fresh news was generally lacking. As well as US markets being closed, they
are on holiday in Brazil and Argentina, and the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations
begin later this week.
The pound was ultimately a bit firmer again against the euro, hitting a new
7-year high after talks between EU finance ministers and Greece failed to reach
Following the introduction of the new Russian export duty on wheat, the country's
Ag Ministry said that they'd shipped out 296 TMT of grains in the Feb 1-11 period,
including only 87 TMT of wheat. The bulk of those exports were barley at 136
TMT, and also included 51 TMT of corn.
That takes Russia's season to date grain exports to 23.62 MMT, a 31.6% rise
on this time last year. Wheat accounts for 18.56 MMT of that, along with 3.47
MMT of barley and 1.27 MMT of corn.
APK Inform however reported some figures for Russian exports via seaports for
the latest week (Feb 9-15), and these look less bearish with regards to wheat
at 401.6 TMT of grain, of which 326 TMT, or 80%, was wheat.
Ukraine seaports meanwhile shipped out 547.8 TMT of grains last week, down
from 837.9 TMT the previous week, they said.
At 457.3 TMT, corn accounted for 80% of last week's exported volume versus
86% the previous week.
Canada said that their wheat exports (excluding durum) for the season so far
to Feb 8 were up 5% on a year ago at 8.4 MMT. Durum wheat exports were up 8%
at 2.7 MMT and those of canola also 8% higher at 4.3 MMT.
Whilst northern hemisphere grain prices remain in the doldrums, South African
corn is hitting contract highs on heat and dryness damage, Agrimoney reported.
The USDA currently forecasts their 2014/15 corn exports at 2 MMT, a similar
figure to last season.