04 March 2015 | Online since 2003



EU grains closed mostly lower on the day


EU grains closed mostly lower on the day, although wheat was generally a little higher for the week. The gains all came earlier in the week on concerns over the quality of the EU crop and the massing of Russian troops on the Ukraine border prompting fears of an imminent Crimean-style "peacekeeping" invasion.

The day ended with Nov 14 London wheat down GBP1.20/tonne at GBP123.80/tonne, Nov 14 Paris wheat was EUR2.00/tonne lower at EUR172.25/tonne, Nov 14 Paris corn fell EUR2.00/tonne to EUR158.50/tonne and Nov 14 Paris rapeseed rose EUR1.00/tonne to EUR328.00/tonne.

For the week that puts London wheat up GBP1.80/tonne, with Paris wheat gaining EUR0.50/tonne, corn down EUR5.00/tonne and rapeseed unchanged.

Yesterday's news that deliveries would be accepted against the Paris wheat contract on wheat with hagbergs as low as 170, albeit at an allowance, and protein levels of 10.5% doesn't set the bar too high for a "milling wheat" contact. There certainly won't be a queue of international buyers wanting to buy what could end up be a very full Rouen futures store system come November.

The HGCA said that around 40% of the UK combinable crop area had been cut as of Aug 5, one of the best starts in recent years. The wheat harvest was already nearly 20% done as of Tuesday versus only around 5% normally at this time.

It's still too early to give a forecast on yields, they said. However hagberg levels on what has been cut are good, typically around the 300 mark. Specific weights are also good at around 77kg/hl, and protein levels in milling wheats are around averaging 12%, they added.

Almost all the UK winter barley and rapeseed was now cut. They said that average yields in that were 7.2-7.4 MT/ha versus a 10-year average of 6.4 MT/ha. Rapeseed yields are coming in at an average 3.4-3.6 MT/ha compared to the 10-year norm of 3.3 MT/ha. "Malting barley is mostly achieving specification, with only occasional crops with high screenings or very low grain nitrogen," they added.

UK growers will be keen to get as much of their harvest in as possible before the well advertised remnants of Hurricane Bertha arrive on these shores on Sunday. There still seems to be a fairly large degree of uncertainty/disagreement over exactly how far north (or south) it will hit.

Oil World yesterday increased their forecast for the EU-28 rapeseed crop to a record 23.1 MMT. That included upgrades from their previous estimates for Germany (to 6.2 MMT versus 5.9 MMT last month and 5.8 MMT last year), France (5.3 MMT versus 5.2 MMT and 4.4 MMT respectively) and Poland (2.9 MMT versus 2.8 MMT last month and last year). The UK crop was pegged at 2.5 MMT, unchanged from July but 19% up on last season.

That's the largest EU-28 production estimate in the ring so far, from a company not normally noted for having flights of fancy. Strategie Grains said 22.9 MMT and Informa 22.4 MMT earlier in the week.

Ukraine said that they'd exported 2.534 MMT of grain so far this month (to Aug 6), including 1.1 MMT of barley and a very similar amount of wheat. Corn exports so far this season stand at just under 300 TMT, but these will soon start to pick up once the 2014/15 harvest gets underway.

Russia said that they'd now harvested 55.8 MMT of grains off 36.2% of the planned area. That includes 41.4 MMT of wheat (off 45.4% of plan), with yields averaging 3.6 MT/ha, an 18.8% increase on this time last year.

Belarus said that they'd harvested 8.165 MMT of grains off 84.7% of the planned area. They still hope to achieve a record 10 MMT grain crop this year.

France said that they'd exported 12.2 MMT of soft wheat to non-EU destinations in 2013/14, a 23% rise versus a year previously. Top home was Algeria taking 5.7 MMT, a 44% increase compared to 2012/13. They probably won't feature so prominently in 2014/15, given France's well touted quality problems. French soft wheat exports within the EU in 2013/14 were down 5% at 6.8 MMT.

FranceAgriMer said that the French wheat harvest was 92% done as of Monday, up from 76% a week previously and versus only 61% a year ago. The winter barley harvest is finished. The spring barley harvest stood at 87% complete versus 67% a week ago and only 49% done this time last year. The corn crop is 97% silking versus 88% last week and 70% a year ago. Corn crop conditions are impressive at 84% good/very good, unchanged on a week ago and up from only 53% this time last year.

Meanwhile the 3-day truce in Gaza is over, and things have sadly but predictably resumed where they left off. Obama has OK'd air strikes against Islamist militants in northern Iraq and who knows what might happen in eastern Ukraine next? The world could be a different place by Monday.

The FTSE 100 and DJIA closed at near 4-month lows last night on the back of heightened investor nerves over such turmoil. Will that mean a flock back to commodities, or will their risk aversion appetite also include the grain sector? Only time will tell.

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