EU grains finish mostly higher heading into USDA report
Ahead of the USDA report fresh news was fairly scant, but last night's confirmation that the US winter wheat crop has declined significantly across the winter was enough to convince the bulls.
It's difficult to know what to make of this news. On the bare face of it, headlines like "US wheat crop in worst condition in 12 years" reads bullish. Indeed, crop ratings for US winter wheat ARE the worst in 12 years, at 35% good/excellent against 62% at the end of November that's a pretty steep decline. However, at 35% they are only down on last year by just one percentage point, and wheat prices did nothing but fall in 2013.
News of further skirmishes in Ukraine with pro-Russian activists seems to be encouraging the spec element back into the market.
Despite that, Ukraine early spring grain plantings are almost 90% done, and my agronomist chum over there, Mike Lee, says that the winter "drought" might not necessarily be such a bad thing. It will after all encourage strong root growth, he notes.
Russian spring grains are planted on 1.3 million hectares, according to the Ministry there, or 4.2% of plan. That's well up on only 775k ha this time a year ago.
The normally conservative Russian Grain Union estimated 2014 grain production there at 90 MMT. They said that around 4.9% of winter grains will need replanting, down from a previous forecast of 6% and better than the norm which would be around 8-10%.
The USDA's FAS in Moscow estimated the 2014 Russian grain crop at 91 MMT, down 1 MMT on last year. Wheat production will account for 52 MMT of that, virtually the same as last year, with the barley crop at 16 MMT and corn output at 11 MMT, they added.
They see Russia's 2014/15 grain export potential at 24 MMT, virtually unchanged on this season. Wheat exports may rise 0.5 MMT to 18 MMT, and 2014/15 grain ending stocks should be more or less unchanged at 9 MMT, they added.
Rusagrotrans forecast the nation's April grain exports at 1.8 MMT versus 2.015 MMT in March. Full season 2013/14 exports could reach 25.1 MMT, up from a previous forecast of 24.3 MMT, they added.
The French Ministry said that spring barley plantings there would decline 3.2% on last year to 480k ha. The all barley area however will rise 3% to 1.69 million ha, they suggested. All wheat plantings will be up marginally, by 0.6%, to 5.02 million ha, they added.
French soft wheat exports in February totalled 1.9 MMT (of which 1.3 MMT went to non-EU destinations). Year to date exports to non-EU homes are 8.2 MMT, up 18% on a year ago. FranceAgriMer said that total 2013/14 soft wheat exports to non-EU buyers would be 11.4 MMT, up 15% from a year ago.
French wheat exports within the EU however are seen lower at 6.6 MMT versus a previous estimate of 6.7 MMT and down 8.5% from a year ago.
That puts France's 2013/14 soft wheat ending stocks at 3.3 MMT versus a previous estimate of 3.2 MMT, and up 12.5% from a year ago.
Algeria are tendering for optional origin milling wheat for May delivery. France are usually their preferred supplier.
The USDA's FAS in Algeria said that decent winter rains mean that they could harvest 3.5 MMT of wheat this year, versus 3.3 MMT in 2013. Their 2014 barley crop should be virtually unchanged at 1.5 MMT, they added. Algeria's import needs are expected to remain static at 6.4 MMT of wheat and 0.46 MMT of barley, they said.
Late in the day, the USDA's April WASDE report came in bearish for wheat with world ending stocks pegged 3 MMT above trade expectations at 186.7 MMT.
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