24 May 2015 | Online since 2003

Wheat market jumps on heightened Russian/Ukraine tensions


"A few showers have developed this morning in Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska, the beginning of stormy period in the Midwest. The atmosphere is growing more unstable in the Great Plains and Upper Midwest setting the stage for showers and thunderstorms. The GFS model sees a very heavy rain potential.

At least one inch of rain is predicted in corn and soybean farms, but 2-3 inches locally, as a trough low pressure becomes entrenched in the Midwest. Unstable conditions would persist for several days allowing rainfall to add up. The wet forecast is a particular boon for soybeans as August is the month when rainfall is most important for the yield," said Martell Crop Projections.


Beans closed mostly a little lower. The FSA reported "prevent plant" US soybean acres this year at 827k which is much lower than a year ago, although higher than the trade was expecting. The NOPA crush number for July came in at 119.6 million bushels, which was above the average trade guess of 115.8 million and above the highest estimate given. The USDA reported 110,000 MT of soybeans sold to China for 2014/15 shipment.

All that sounds friendly, and it is, but it was still usurped by the wet forecast for the week ahead. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said that Argentine sunflower plantings are 7.3% complete versus 4.5% a week ago and 8.5% a year ago. They estimated the 2014/15 sunflower planting area at 1.4 million hectares, unchanged from their previous estimate. The USDA will release updated US crop condition ratings on Monday. Last week's report had this year's US soybean crop rated 70% good to excellent. There's not expected to be much deviance from that this week, maybe one point either way. Sep 14 Soybeans closed at $11.02 1/2, up 4 1/4 cents; Nov 14 Soybeans closed at $10.52, down 4 cents; Sep 14 Soybean Meal closed at $388.30, up $5.90; Sep 14 Soybean Oil closed at 32.87, down 64 points. For the week beans lost $1.82 1/4 on a front month basis following the expiry of the Aug 14 contract, meal was down $9.20 and oil fell 257 points to a new 5-year low. Malaysian palm oil prices are also at 5-year lows on the strong ringgit and slack demand.


The corn market closed 3-4 cents higher. The FAS reported prevented plantings this spring of 1.541 million acres of US corn. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said that the Argentine corn harvest was 88.4% complete versus 83.9% a week ago and 98.8% a year ago. They have the 2013/14 corn crop estimated at 25.0 MMT, unchanged from previous forecast, but 2 MMT down from a year ago. Given favourable conditions, the harvest should be over in the next fortnight, they added. Dryness is seen potentially reducing corn output in Russia, Ukraine and China versus current USDA estimates.

Stats Canada are due out with their latest crop production estimates next Thursday. For Canadian corn production the average estimate 11.5 MMT, from within a range of estimates of 10.7-12.0 MMT. The Ag Canada July estimate was 11.305 MMT and the 2013 corn crop was 14.19 MMT. China sold 1.7 MMT of corn at this week’s auction, or around a third of the total volume offered. Monday's USDA crop condition ratings for the 2014 US corn crop aren't expected to reveal any great change from last week's 73% good to excellent rating. The closely followed Pro Farmer US Midwest crop tour starts on Monday and ends Thursday. The trade will be looking to that for confirmation that this week's US yield estimate of 167.4 bu/acre was indeed too low, and that somewhere like 170+ bu/acre is nearer the mark. A high number could have corn back under pressure late next week. Sep 14 Corn closed at $3.65 3/4, up 3 3/4 cents; Dec 14 Corn closed at $3.77, up 3 1/2 cents. For the week corn added 14 cents on front month Sep 14.


The wheat market jumped on heightened Russian/Ukraine tensions. Various reports said that Ukraine forces had attacked and partly destroyed a Russian armoured column's move into it's territory. A Russian "aid" convoy remains poised at the Ukraine border. That was enough to prompt nervous short-covering. The latest Commitment of Traders report showed managed money holding a net short position of 61,124 contracts in CBOT wheat, which is 5,909 less than a week ago, but still a sizable risk. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said that Argentine wheat planting is 98.2% complete versus 94.2% a week ago and 99.5% a year ago.

They trimmed their 2014 wheat planted area estimated to 4.1 million hectares versus a previous estimate of 4.2 million, although that's still up 13.25% versus 3.62 million a year ago. "Frequent and abundant rainfall" is behind the reduction, they said. For Stats Canada's crop report next week the average all wheat production estimate is 28.5 MMT, from within a range of estimates of 26.2-34.5 MMT. The Ag Canada July estimate was 27.74 MMT and the 2013 all wheat crop was 37.53 MMT. Russia's grain harvest now stands at 63.1 MMT, off 43% of the planned area. This time a year ago the harvest was only at 50.1 MMT. Wheat accounts for 44 MMT of that total off 49% of plan, with barley adding a further 12.5 MMT off 48% of plan. The Ukraine Ag Ministry said that their early grain harvest is more or less done, producing a wheat crop of 23.8 MMT in bunker weight. They said that 40% of this year's wheat crop is only suitable to be used for feed versus 25% a year ago. Sep 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.51 1/4, up 14 cents; Sep 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.19 3/4, up 11 3/4 cents; Sep 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.12, up 6 1/4 cents. For the week Chicago wheat was up 1 3/4 cents, with Kansas closing down 9 1/2 cents and Minneapolis ending down 6 3/4 cents.



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