Chicago Grains Afternoon Comments

08/10/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans trade around 4-5 cents lower approaching 13.00 BST, with meal down 20-60 cents. It looks therefore like the trade has largely now positioned itself where it wants to be heading into tomorrow's USDA report. The FAO today usurped that by releasing their own world supply and demand estimates. For soybeans they were unchanged on their global 2015/16 production estimate at 318 MMT, some 2 MMT below the USDA's September figure. They raised world ending stocks by 3 MMT to 52 MMT, although intriguingly that is fully 35 MMT below what the USDA gave us last month - a 40% difference! "In the US, a very good crop is expected as conditions have been mostly favourable and consistent throughout the season. Harvest has begun and production is expected to be just under the record of last year," they said. MDA CropCast raised their forecast for this year's US soybean crop by 20 million bushels to 3.845 billion today. The average trade guess for that tomorrow is slightly higher than that at 3.908 billion. Oil World said that Ukraine's rapeseed planted area will decline 29% to 570k ha due to persistent dryness. The UK's rapeseed area is being called 10% lower at 580k ha, and Germany's is seen around unchanged at 1.28 million ha. Romania said that they exported a record rapeseed volume in excess of 1 MMT in 2014/15, with 60% of that going to fellow EU-member states.

Corn: The corn market trades around a cent to a cent and a half lower, still seemingly unable to breach the $4/bu level. Will the USDA give it a helping hand tomorrow, or will the corn bull's hopes crash on the cruel rocks of fate just off Washington once again? MDA CropCast estimated the US corn crop at 13.651 billion bushels today, unchanged from their previous forecast. The average trade guess for tomorrow's report is 13.504 billion. MDA CropCast see Ukraine's 2015 corn crop at 23 MMT, down 19% from a year ago, and surely a far more realistic estimate than the USDA's current 27 MMT prediction. The FAO today forecast the world 2015/16 corn crop at 1007 MMT, down 4 MMT from previously. Again their figure is notable for it's remarkable difference compared to the USDA's take on things - they are at 978 MMT in Washington, at least until tomorrow. The FAO see global corn ending stocks at 223 MMT, which is 3 MMT below their September estimate, but 33 MMT above the USDA! "In the US harvest is underway and a good crop is materializing. Some areas, particularly around Minnesota, will likely see record yields and will offset underperforming areas in the eastern Corn Belt. Overall, production is expected to be slightly less than the last two high production years," the FAO said. "In Ukraine, harvest is ongoing and there is concern due to persistent dryness and high temperatures in central and western regions. In the EU conditions are largely unfavorable and production is expected to be below the 5 year average due to the heat wave and lack of rainfall in central and eastern Europe," they added.

Wheat: The wheat market trades around 2 cents higher. MDA CropCast raised their forecast for the Canadian wheat crop by 0.64 MMT to 25.5 MMT due to improved expectations for spring wheat. They lowered Australia by 0.34 MMT to 24.7 MMT however, citing very hot conditions last week that increased stress in wheat in South Australia, Victoria and southern NSW. Dryness is widespread in central and eastern Ukraine and much of southern Russia, they noted. Moscow got it's first snow of winter overnight, say the BBC. Much colder weather this week will slow crop growth in Russia, MDA said. The FAO estimated the world wheat crop at 735 MMT, up 7 MMT from a month ago and 3 MMT more than the USDA. They see world ending stocks at 206 MMT, up 3 MMT from previously but almost 21 MMT lower than the USDA. "In Australia, conditions marginally deteriorated in most states due to lack of September rainfall. Timely rainfall in October is critical for maintaining average yield potential," they said. "In Brazil, there is some concern due to the mixed weather earlier in the season (wet followed by dryness) and localized frosts in September," they added. Ukraine said that their 2015 grain harvest was now past 45 MMT, with a final total of 58-60 MMT expected. Full season exports are predicted at a record 36.8 MMT, split roughly 16 MMT each wheat and corn and around 4 MMT of barley. Exports so far this season are running 20% ahead of those of a year ago. Saudi Arabia are tendering for 715,000 MT of hard wheat for Dec/Feb shipment.

EU Grains Narrowly Mixed At Noon

08/10/15 -- EU grains trade narrowly mixed ahead of tomorrow's all important USDA report.

At noon, Nov 15 London wheat was up GBP0.50/tonne at GBP115.00/tonne. In Paris, Nov 15 wheat was up EUR0.25/tonne at EUR178.50/tonne, Nov 15 corn was down EUR0.25/tonne to EUR165.50/tonne and Nov 15 rapeseed was EUR0.25/tonne higher at EUR376.75/tonne.

Ahead of the USDA news, the FAO today raised their forecast for the world wheat crop by 7 MMT to a new record 735 MMT, which is now 3 MMT higher than the USDA's September prediction. Global ending stocks were increased 4 MMT to 206 MMT, although that is well below the current 227 MMT predicted by the USDA.

"In the EU winter wheat planting has begun in northern regions under normal conditions and there is some concern over central regions due to dryness. In the Russian Federation, the spring wheat harvest is wrapping up under mostly favourable conditions and winter wheat planting continues under satisfactory conditions with the exception of the southern regions where conditions are dry," they said. In Ukraine "there is concern over southern and eastern regions due to dryness," they added.

MDA CropCast sound a bit more concerned over the FSU than the FAO. They said that dryness remains "widespread" over central and eastern Ukraine, south central Russia and the North Caucasus region of the country. stressing newly planted winter wheat. Very cold weather this week will further slow crop development and may even cause the closure of the wheat planting window in the region, they added. The last estimate seen from the Russian Ag Ministry had winter grains plantings approaching 80% complete.

In Europe, showers this week will ease dryness for winter wheat germination and establishment in eastern Germany and the Czech Republic, but dryness issues will persist in Poland, they said.

In Ukraine, Oil World say that winter rapeseed sowing is more or less over, with the optimum planting time now well passed. They see the Ukraine OSR area down 29% at 570k ha.

In Germany they forecast the OSR area for the 2016 harvest at 1.28 million ha, around unchanged from a year ago, but 8.6% below the recent average.

In the UK, the FWi report that OSR plantings for next year will decline around 10% to 580k ha - the fourth annual fall in area in a row. Growers are switching to varieties with better disease resistance too, they note.

Staying at home for a minute, the normally cautious NFU estimate wheat yields this year to have averaged a record 9.1 MT/ha, which is significantly higher than the latest HGCA figure of 8.5-8.7 MT/ha. They now see production this year at 16.68 MMT, a bit better than last year's total and the third highest on record, and only marginally behind the second largest 16.70 MMT set in 2000.

The Bank of England voted 8-1 to keep UK interest rates on hold at 0.5% it was confirmed today, sending sterling a little lower which buoyed London wheat a touch.

France said that they'd exported almost 750 TMT of soft wheat to non-EU destinations in August. Exports to similar homes in the first two months of the season are now 1.43 MMT, a 24% rise on a year ago, as they scour the world market for buyers. Algeria was the top home taking 485 TMT.

French barley exports outside the EU in Jul/Aug were 1.32 MMT, of which more than 95% went to China.

Chicago Corn And Wheat Fall, But Beans Post Small Gains

07/10/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans did their best to shrug off the influence of lower corn and wheat markets to close with small gains. The trade is fully focused on Friday's WASDE report from the USDA. Trade estimates for that see US soybean harvested acres at 82.915 million, with yields averaging 47.2 bu/acre and production at 3.908 billion bushels. The USDA had acres at 83.549 million, yields at 47.1 bu/acre and production at 3.935 billion bushels a month ago. Demand for beans remains strong, trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report are between 700,000 MT and 1.2 MMT. A Reuters survey puts the average guess for 2015/16 world ending stocks at 84.50 MMT, around 0.5 MMT lower than previously. Friday also brings CONAB's first estimates for Brazilian 2015/16 production prospects. "The weather in Brazil thus far during the spring planting season has been more conducive for planting in southern Brazil than in any other region of the country. Generally, the first soybeans in Brazil are planted in central Mato Grosso, but that has not been the case thus far this planting season," said Dr Cordonnier. He says that Parana in the south is already said to be 23% planted, up from 13% a week ago. Planting in the leading soybean state of Mato Grosso though is more retarded, waiting for rains, making the national average around 2-3% complete. It's still very early days though. He estimated Brazil's 2015/16 soybean crop at 99.0 MMT, unchanged from previous forecast and 2 MMT higher than the current USDA prediction. Rain is in the forecast for Mato Grosso in the 3-7 day time frame, however the full 15 day forecast generally indicates rains of only 40-60% of normal for this time of year for the state. South Korea's NOFI bought 55,000 MT of soy meal from Argentina or Brazil for April shipment and were said to have cancelled a tender to buy 12,000 MT of rapeseed meal due to high prices. Thailand cancelled a tender to buy soymeal for May-June shipment. Nov 15 Soybeans closed at $8.91, up 3 cents; Jan 16 Soybeans closed at $8.95, up 3 cents; Oct 15 Soybean Meal closed at $305.20, up $3.40; Oct 15 Soybean Oil closed at 28.42, down 9 points.

Corn: The market closed around a couple of cents lower. In the midst of harvest, US corn is struggling to break through the key $4/bu mark. The weekly Energy Dept report showed that US ethanol production increased by 7,000 barrels per day to 950,000 bpd last week, a fairly modest rise given that last week's total was the second lowest weekly volume since the beginning of May. Friday's USDA report is expected to show US harvested corn ares at 80.826 million, down from 81.101 million previously. Yields are seen averaging 167.1 bu/acre versus 167.5 bu/acre in September. Production is pegged at an average of 13.504 billion bushels versus 13.585 billion last time. A Reuters survey predicts the average 2015/16 world corn ending stocks estimate to slip to 188.75 MMT from 189.69 MMT in September. NYMEX crude got within touching distance of $50/barrel today, it's best level since Jul 20, but failed to hold. US DDGs exports were reported at 1.28 MMT in September, down a little from 1.37 MMT in August but 18.7% above those of September 2014. That was also the third highest monthly total on record. In Brazil, full season corn planting is in full swing in the south, with 50% of the crop in the state of Parana already in the ground, according to Dr Cordonnier. He says that 98% of what has been sown so far there is rated to be in good condition and 2% in average condition. Full season plantings in the state are however "expected to decline 18% to just 444,000 hectares, which is the smallest acreage since records have been kept (over 40 years)," he notes. Meanwhile, in Rio Grande do Sul the full-season corn crop is 55% planted and that acreage in the state is expected to decline 9% this year, he adds. As with beans, planting in the largest full season corn state of Mato Grosso is behind schedule at only 2% complete versus 5% normally at this time. Celeres estimated Brazil’s 2015/16 summer corn crop at 30.9 MMT, down 0.3% from a year ago. They see Brazil’s 2015/16 second corn crop area expanding to 9.64 million ha, up 4.4% from a year ago. CONAB will give us their Brazilian production numbers for 2015/16 on Friday. Weekly export sales tomorrow are estimate around 550,000-750,000 MT. Dec 15 Corn closed at $3.95 3/4, down 2 1/2 cents; Mar 16 Corn closed at $4.06 1/4, down 2 1/4 cents.

Wheat: The market closed the best part of 10 cents lower, more or less reversing all of the previous session's gains. This may have been linked to profit-taking following the recent move higher, and some position squaring ahead of Friday's USDA report, not that this is expected to be a "game changer" for wheat. Traders are looking for the USDA to cut 2015/16 US ending stocks to 828 million bushels in that. A Reuters survey says that the USDA will cut 2015/16 world ending stocks to 224.75 MMT from 226.56 MMT last month. Either one would still be a record though. The Russian Ag Minister said that this year's grain harvest would top 100 MMT in bunker weight versus 105.3 MMT a year ago. Domestic demand is seen at 70 MMT, leaving an export potential of 30 MMT. In the first week of October Russia's grain exports were said to be 840 TMT, of which 660 TMT (78.5%) was wheat. Season to date grain exports are reported at 12.38 MMT, with 9.37 MMT of that (75.7%) being wheat. Widespread talk remains of Russian winter grains being sown into unfavourably dry soil, although exactly the same was the case this time last year. In southern Russia it is said that spring rains are a more important yield determiner, and we are a long way off knowing how they will turn out. Reasonable rains are in the forecast on some weather models over the next 15 days. The region is also turning colder. Agritel say that the first frosts of the winter are now starting to appear in parts of southern Russia and Ukraine. If the forecast rains do materialise then there's still time yet for spring plantings in the region to reach record levels, they say. Algeria is in for a nominal 50,000 MT of optional origin wheat for Nov-Dec shipment, but usually buys far more than it tenders for. France will be hoping for some success in that one. The Philippines seek 50,000 MT of wheat for March-April shipment. Japan seeks 120,000 MT of feed wheat and 200,000 MT of feed barley in a tender for Jan-Feb shipment. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report for wheat are a fairly modest 175,000 to 375,000 MT. Brazilian wheat quality declining because of wet conditions in the south of the country. With Argentina's crop expected to be sharply lower in 2015/16 then US wheat could get a look in for export to Brazil later in the season. Dec 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.16 3/4, down 9 1/2 cents; Dec 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.08, down 7 3/4 cents; Dec 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.32 3/4, down 8 cents.

EU Grains Rise On Follow Through Trade, But It Didn't Last

07/10/15 -- EU grains traded mostly higher for much of the day, with support coming from yesterday's wheat advances States-side, which followed through into morning trade today.

For London and Paris wheat and rapeseed these were the best levels seen on a front month since mid-August. The six million dollar question was does this mean that the harvest lows are in?

Only time will tell, but we may get a few more clues from the USDA in Friday's upcoming WASDE report. That is expected to revise US corn and soybean production lower than the estimates given last month, largely on the back of lower harvest acreage numbers than those used in September.

By the close however, Nov 15 London wheat was down GBP2.30/tonne to GBP114.50/tonne, Dec 15 Paris wheat was EUR1.00/tonne lower at EUR178.25/tonne, Nov 15 Paris corn was EUR0.25/tonne easier at EUR165.75/tonne, whilst Nov 15 Paris rapeseed was EUR0.75/tonne steadier at EUR376.50/tonne.

Paris grains got a boost today from a weaker euro, following the news that German industrial production unexpectedly fell in August, where growth had been expected. London wheat didn't derive the same benefit however. UK industrial production in contrast rose 0.5% compared to an average analyst forecast of 0.3%, sending the pound higher against both the euro and US dollar.

It seems that the UK is better insulated against the fallout of a Chinese economic slowdown than Europe. Ideas now are that further problems for the Eurozone economy might lead the ECB to consider even more QE, putting any potential interest rate rise there even further onto the back burner than it already was.

Modest and gradual interest rate rises from the BoE here are still being pencilled in for Q1 or Q2 of 2016. Barclays have sterling appreciating from the current level of around 1.36 against the euro to 1.43 by the turn of the year, and rising further to 1.45 in Q1 and 1.47 in Q2 of next year.

That would seem to be more supportive for Paris wheat going forward than the London market. Paris wheat currently stands more than 22% above the post-harvest lows set in September. Chicago wheat is up 16% whilst London wheat is only up by less than 7% during in this time.

Another bumper UK harvest this year, and the unusually large volume of carryover stocks left from last season, mean that the UK is likely to need to increase wheat exports significantly in 2015/16. Strong competition from the Black Sea and Baltic nations, as well as France and other EU countries, mean that exports thus far have got off to only a sluggish start, and further sterling appreciation won't help those ambitions.

Russian/Ukraine dryness continues to attract lots of interest/comment. Ukraine's corn crop seems to be bearing the brunt of that, with production barely on target to make a 20 MMT crop this year versus the USDA's current 27 MMT prediction. That will surely be revised downwards on Friday?

Attention is now staring to focus on winter plantings, and prospects (or otherwise) for these crops to get established before the onset of the harsh FSU winter. Agritel say that Ukraine winter seedings are around 50% complete, with those in Russia about 70% done. The first frosts of the season are now staring to emerge, but some rain is in the forecast for the next 2 weeks. The GFS model doesn't currently have coverage being too widespread, but the CMC model looks much wetter over a much wider area of Southern Russia and most of Ukraine.

If the latter forecast verifies then winter plantings could yet reach record levels in the region, Agritel say.

On the international tender front, Algeria are in the market for 50,000 MT of optional origin milling wheat for Nov/Dec shipment. They would usually buy more than the tender volume, and France would be expected to be well positioned to service their requirements. Israel are also in the market for 80,000 MT of corn and 55,000 MT of feed wheat, both of optional origin, for Nov/Jan shipment. The Black Sea might be the favourite to win that business.

Chicago Grains Rally - Led By Wheat

06/10/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed with relatively modest gains in what looked like part of a broader pick up in commodity buying by the fund community. The move higher came despite a surprise 2 point hike in US soybean good to excellent ratings from the USDA after the close yesterday. The trade is now looking to Friday's WASDE report from the USDA to provide some needed direction from here. There is a fairly strong traditional trait in place for beans (and corn) to put in a seasonal bottom around about now. The trade is expecting the USDA to cut US soybean production on Friday, by virtue of a reduction in harvested acres, which has been alluded to in other data recently. A Bloomberg poll puts harvested area down 650k acres compared to last month when the USDA had output at 3.935 billion bushels and yields at 47.1 bu/acre. Demand for beans remains strong, despite fears over the Chinese economy, but so too does competition from South America. Both Argentina and Brazil appear to have largely escaped the usual logistical and infrastructure problems that have plagued them in recent years when they've harvested bumper crops. Brazil is expected to increase soybean plantings again this year, and Argentina will probably do likewise too. Celeres sees Brazilian soybean plantings at 32.2 million ha this year. AgRural said that as of Oct 2 Brazil had planted 3% of their 2016 soybean crop, unchanged from a year ago. Planting in Mato Grosso is a bit retarded, waiting for rain. Further south in states like Parana things are more advanced. Nov 15 Soybeans closed at $8.88, up 3 3/4 cents; Jan 16 Soybeans closed at $8.92, up 3 3/4 cents; Oct 15 Soybean Meal closed at $301.80, up $0.80; Oct 15 Soybean Oil closed at 28.51, up 3 points.

Corn: The corn market closed around 4-5 cents firmer, also benefiting from a general bout of sudden modest interest in owning commodities. Fund money was estimated as being a net buyer of around 9,000 corn contracts today. The trade is expecting a downwards revision to US corn production potential from the USDA on Friday. Last month they had the US corn crop estimated at 13.585 billion bushels. A Bloomberg survey now places that at around 13.482 billion. That's due to lower forecasts for both harvested area and yields. Yields were pegged at 167.5 bu/acre last month, the Bloomberg survey now pegs those at 166.7 bu/acre. Some think  that they might cut 2-3 bu/acre off their September estimate this time round, but this is the USDA that we are talking about, they may chose to wait until the harvest is a bit more advanced than the 27% complete reported last night to do that. That harvest progress figure was incidentally lower than trade estimations of around 30% done. In other news, Ukraine was said to have agreed a cap on 2015/16 corn exports of 16 MMT, some 2.5 MMT lower than where the USDA currently sees them. The USDA also seem far to high on their Ukraine corn production estimate of 27 MMT and their yield forecast of 6.59 MT/ha. Current harvest figures say that with 30% of this year's crop cut, production so far has yet to reach 6 MMT, and yields are averaging only 4.72 MT/ha. Ukraine said that they'd exported 1.45 MMT of corn Jul 1 to Oct 5. As well as the USDA coming out on Friday, Brazil's CONAB are also due to release their first production estimates for the 2015/16 harvest. The regular weekly US ethanol production report is due out tomorrow. Production last week was 943,000 barrels/day, that was up 5,000 bpd from the previous week although still the second lowest weekly volume since the first week of May. Dec 15 Corn closed at $3.98 1/4, up 4 3/4 cents; Mar 16 Corn closed at $4.08 1/2, up 4 3/4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed with double digit gains across the three exchanges. Talk of dryness issues in the FSU, the US and Australia were deemed supportive today. Switching the clock back 12 months, the Russian Ag Ministry said that 2.6 million ha of winter sown crops there failed or ended up as only suitable for silage versus the 1.4 million ha previously forecast. That was also up from 1.1 million ha the previous year. That led them to reduce the size of this year's grain harvest by 0.8 MMT. IKAR trimmed their Russian wheat production estimate from 60.8 MMT to 60.0 MMT, and reduced barley output this year from 17.1 MMT to 16.8 MMT. The Russian Ag Ministry said that the 2015 wheat harvest there is 96.1% complete at 62.5 MMT in bunker weight. Cleaning and screening would typically knock around 7% off that figure ie. around 4.4 MMT. Average yields are reported 5% lower than last year at 2.54 MT/ha. Barley production is said to be at 17.8 MMT off 96.2% of the planned area. Again that's bunker weight figure. Average yields are also officially 5% lower at 2.25 MT/ha. Some anecdotal reports suggest that growers may be being put under pressure to exaggerate yields this year, but we will probably never know the final "real" production numbers. They go on to report winter plantings for the 2016 harvest to now be 78.9% complete on 13.5 million ha, which is 600,000 ha more than this time last year. It's the health of these newly sown crops that the market will probably debate over all winter, much as it did 12 months ago. Kazakhstan said that it's harvest was 90.6% complete on 13.36 million ha for a crop of 16.88 MMT so far. Ukraine said that they'd exported 5.64 MMT of wheat Jul 1 to Oct 5, along with 2.94 MMT of barley. The Ukraine Ag Ministry are said to have agreed to cap wheat exports this season at 16.5 MMT and barley exports at 3.8 MMT. The USDA currently has these at 13.5 MMT and 4 MMT respectively. Dec 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.26 1/4, up 10 3/4 cents; Dec 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.15 3/4, up 13 3/4 cents; Dec 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.40 3/4, up 10 cents.

EU Wheat Ends At, Or Close To, Near 2-Month Highs

06/10/15 -- EU grains closed higher, led by wheat which gained on continued talk of dryness issues for winter plantings in the FSU. This was within 5 pence of the best close on nearby London wheat since mid-August. It was also the highest finish on Paris wheat since around the same time, although it's hard to say for sure that we have definitely seen a market reversal - we may need to wait for Friday's WASDE report from the USDA to get some much-needed further direction.

At the close, Nov 15 London wheat was up GBP1.55/tonne at GBP116.80/tonne. In Paris, Dec 15 wheat was up EUR3.00/tonne at EUR179.25/tonne, Nov 15 corn was EUR2.25/tonne higher at EUR166.00/tonne and Nov 15 rapeseed closed EUR2.50/tonne firmer at EUR375.75/tonne.

At home, ADAS said that the 2015 UK harvest was more or less complete, and that final yields across the range of crops are looking well ahead of recent averages.

"Good establishment conditions and adequate soil moisture throughout the main growing period greatly helped yield potential. Furthermore, opportunities to control weeds, pests and diseases throughout the season, along with near perfect weather conditions have also contributed to high yields," they said.

They see UK wheat yields averaging 8.5-8.7 MT/ha, up 10-12% on the 10-year average. Winter barley yields are seen averaging 7.2-7.4 MT/ha (up 11-14%), with those of the spring planted crop at 5.9-6.1 MT/ha (up 9-13%). For oats they see average yields at 6.1-6.3 MT/ha (up 7-10%) and for winter OSR 3.6-3.8 MT/ha (up 7-13%).

In some cases yields have been much better than these national averages, particularly in the east, they added.

Taking the middle ground of these yield estimates, then the UK should have produced a wheat crop of around 16 MMT this year using earlier HGCA planting estimates. We should also be looking at a winter barley crop of 3.2 MMT, along with a further 3.9 MMT of spring barley for a total UK barley crop of 7.1 MMT. Oat production should come in at 850,000 MT, and rapeseed output at 2.3 MMT.

If those figures are correct then we are talking a 2.7% decline in UK wheat production this year compared with 2014, a 2.9% rise in barley output and a 3.7% increase in the size of the UK oat crop, whilst rapeseed production would be 8% lower than last year.

So, UK wheat production may be around 500 TMT lower than last season, but note that carryover commercial stocks from last year's harvest were estimated to be around 1 MMT higher than at the end of 2013/14 last month at almost 2.5 MMT. For wheat in particular this looks like therefore being another challenging year, and exports thus far have hardly hit the ground running.

Stiff competition remains on the export front, not just from the Black Sea but also the Baltic countries, as well of course as France with their new record crop to shift.

Talking of strong competition from the Black Sea, Ukraine said that they'd exported a record 2.8 MMT of wheat in September, taking their Jul/Sep Q1 2015/16 exports to an also all-time high 5.5 MMT, a 20% increase on a year ago.

APK Inform currently peg this year's Ukraine wheat crop at 25.7 MMT, up 6.6% on a year ago. They see exports in 2015/16 at a record 13.8 MMT, up 26.5% on last season.

Ukraine's corn exports however won't be record high, with the government there said to have set an upper limit for these with grain traders at 16 MMT, down 21% year-on-year. That's also 2.5 MMT less than the USDA are currently predicting. Mind you they have production at what looks like a highly unlikely 27 MMT with yields averaging 6.59 MT/ha this year. Current harvest figures say that with 30% of this year's crop cut, production so far has yet to reach 6 MMT, and yields are averaging only 4.72 MT/ha.

Talk of dryness in both Ukraine and Russia being a problem for winter plantings for the 2016 harvest is getting plenty of airtime. Unfortunately exactly how serious a problem this might ultimately prove to be we are a very long way off knowing. There was similar talk this time last year in Russia in particular, yet if we believe what their Ag Ministry are telling us now then they are currently wrapping up what is expected to be a 103 MMT harvest.

Why You Should Never Trust A Vegetarian

06/10/15 -- When is a vegetarian not a vegetarian? When they're drunk it would seem is the answer to that one. A survey of UK "vegetarians" found that 37% of them drop their dirty carrot munching vows when they go out and get drunk!

And a shocking 34% of these lentil-lovers admit to eating meat every single time that they get drunk, and another 26% fairly often.

Unsurprisingly the proportion of these wracked with guilt falafel and humus wrap munchers that don't admit to their sins the following day is a rather high 69%.

Well then, 37% admit to eating meat, and 69% say that they lie when they have eaten meat! They're all eating it then by the looks of it!

So, I bet you're dying to know what lovely meatie nibbles lure these sandal clad lettuce lovers over to "the dark side" - a nice juicy steak maybe? Nope. Top guilty pleasure is the humble kebab (39%), followed by a burger in second slot (34%), the mighty bacon sarnie in third (27%), followed by fried chicken (19%) and pork sausages (14%).

One thing I find interesting about that is that half the stuff they are breaking their vows for is rubbish anyway (and presumably then re-affirms their belief that meat is murder the next day), although if they are drunk then we assume that it could be late at night and thus a kebab, a burger or some poxy deep fried chicken is all that they have open to them staggering down the High Street at midnight.

What however do we make of the 27% give in to a bacon butty? I don't know about you, but we don't have any late-night bacon butty shacks around here. Nor have I ever seen one. So there are two options here:

a) these veggies are drunk at 8-10am in the morning, and then pop down the local cafe for a brekkie.

b) these are pre-meditated "oh look, I think I've accidentally found some bacon at the back of the fridge hidden behind the tofu, and as I only bought it yesterday it's still well within it's sell-by date, phew" veggies - a bit like those people on a diet with a stash of Dairy Milk at the bottom of the salad drawer "just in case".

Vegetarians - drunken, liars then it would seem.