Chicago Market Drifts Lower On Pre-Weekend Profit-Taking

16/08/13 -- Soycomplex: The USDA announced 284 TMT of new crop US soybeans sold to China along with a further 126 TMT to unknown. These sales to China are most likely to be shipped in the first half of 2013/14. There are reports that China bought 7-15 Brazilian soybean cargoes for Feb/Mar shipment this week. The robust export program already on the books for new crop US beans is undeniably supportive however. Based on yesterday's weekly export sales report, cumulative sales for 2013/14 already stand at 47.5% of the USDA forecast for the season versus a 5 year average of only 30%. Talk of a 160 MMT South American soybean crop in 2013/14 however is negative going forward, although of course that is a long way off being a reality. Having traded higher every day this week though, profit-taking ahead of the weekend was the order of the day. This was especially so given that there was a bit more rain in the offing for the upper Midwest in some of the revised weather forecasts today. How things pan out over the weekend and the revised Sunday night US weather forecasts may dictate market direction on Monday morning. Cargill are said to be gearing up to restart it's Lafayette, Indiana, crushing plant next week. The plant has been idled since May due to tight supplies. Today's Commitment of Traders report shows managed money increasing their net long position in soybeans by 3,597 contracts for the week through to Tuesday night. That brings their total net long position to a modest 47,177 contracts. Sep 13 Soybeans closed at USD12.83 1/4, down 5 cents; Nov 13 Soybeans closed at USD12.59 1/4, down 6 1/4 cents; Sep 13 Soybean Meal closed at USD408.80, down USD1.00; Sep 13 Soybean Oil closed at 42.81, down 31 points. For the week Nov 13 beans gained a respectable 77 cents.

Corn: It's not just in soybeans where US exporters have a healthy forward book. Following yesterday's weekly export sales report, as of August 8th, cumulative US corn sales stand at 33% of the USDA forecast for 2013/14 versus a 5 year average of 22% at this time. Also as with soybeans, the chance of a bit of rain later next week led to profit-taking following decent gains yesterday heading into the weekend. Not everyone is convinced about this possible rain event though. "The GFS model indicates sparse rainfall for the Midwest over the next 5 days. Temperatures would moderate, moving closer to normal, especially in the Upper Midwest. These changes are due to a shift in the jet stream. A cool trough over the Midwest would be replaced by a warm ridge. Rainfall would be average to below normal. That would not be enough to reverse drought, especially with the warming temperatures," said Martell Crop Projections. Today's Commitment of Traders report shows managed money increasing their net short position in corn by 10,149 contracts for the week through to Tuesday night. That brings their total net short position to a new record 123,221 contracts. The size of that short most likely means that more volatility is in store for corn with each change in the weather forecast until there is a greater degree of certainly over final US 2013 yields. FranceAgriMer left French corn crop conditions unchanged from last week at 55% good/excellent. They said that 88% of the crop is flowering, up from 74% a week ago but 10 points behind last year's progress. Sep 13 Corn closed at USD4.73 3/4, down 7 3/4 cents; Dec 13 Corn closed at USD4.63 1/2, down 8 3/4 cents. For the week Sep 13 corn rose 8 cents and Dec 13 was 10 1/4 cents higher.

Wheat: Wheat fell on all three exchanges, mirroring corn once more. If US corn yields ultimately come in higher than the USDA's surprisingly revised lower estimate of 154.4 bu/acre on Monday, and remember that some estimates are still above 160 bu/acre, then corn looks like moving closer to USD4/bu. If that happens then wheat, which has already struggled to maintain a USD2/bu premium to corn in the Dec 13 position, must surely also slip below USD6/bu? As with corn and soybeans though, US exporters have so far managed to make good sales for 2013/14, aided by increased demand from Brazil (coupled with reduced supplies from their normal seller, Argentina) along with large new demand from China. As of August 8th, cumulative US wheat sales now stand at 47% of the USDA forecast for the 2013/14 season versus a 5 year average of 37%. Sales of 373 TMT are needed each week to reach the USDA forecast, yesterday's sales were 490 TMT, so it is entirely possible that the USDA have underestimated US exports for 2013/14. South Korea today bought 47,800 MT of US milling wheat for Oct shipment, along with 25,500 MT of US wheat for Oct/Nov shipment. Reuters report that Brazil is likely to expand its 2 MMT import-duty-free wheat quota due to recent frost damage to the domestic crop in Parana state. That will likely mean increased purchases from the US, an origin much favoured by Brazilian millers compared to Black Sea wheat although they have been known to also buy German wheat in the past. Today's Commitment of Traders report shows managed money decreasing their net short position in Chicago wheat by 3,339 contracts for the week through to Tuesday night. That brings their total net short position to 43,996 contracts. Sep 13 CBOT Wheat closed at USD6.31, down 6 1/2 cents; Sep 13 KCBT Wheat closed at USD6.98 1/4, down 4 3/4 cents; Sep 13 MGEX Wheat closed at USD7.37 1/4, down 2 1/4 cents. For the week CBOT wheat was 2 1/2 cents lower, with Kansas up a cent and Minneapolis 5 1/4 cents firmer.

EU Wheat Mixed, Strong Export Pace Support

16/08/13 -- EU grains closed mixed, with nearby London wheat posting a rare up day and front month Nov 13 snapping an eleven session losing streak by closing GBP1.85/tonne firmer at GBP152.60/tonne and with Jan 14 up GBP2.10/tonne to close at GBP154.85/tonne. Nov 13 Paris milling wheat settled EUR2.00/tonne lower at EUR183.75/tonne.

Despite a firmer close today, this was still a bad week at the office for London wheat, with Nov 13 ending GBP3.60/tonne lower and Jan 14 GBP3.35/tonne easier. Nov 13 Paris wheat managed to gain EUR0.75/tonne during the course of the week.

The French soft wheat harvest moved on to 90% complete as of Aug 12, according to the latest figures from FranceAgriMer. That's almost in line with last year's 91% complete. The spring barley harvest is 84% done, up from 58% a week ago and versus 88% this time last year. Corn silking is at 88% versus 74% last week and 98% last year. The proportion of the corn crop rated good/excellent was left unchanged at 55%.

Strong export demand has supported French wheat this week. Brussels has already issued export licences for 2.65 MMT for the new campaign, nearly double those of this time a year ago. The port of Rouen shipped 158 TMT of soft wheat this week, up 77% on a week previously, with Algeria the top destination taking 128 TMT of that total.

At home, the HGCA say that nationally less than 5% of the UK wheat area had been harvested as of Aug 13. They say that 75% of the winter barley area was harvested, along with 30% of the oilseed rape area as of this date.

The highly varied crop conditions mean (predictably) that yields are all over the place, with wheat yields ranging from 5.5-12.4 MT/ha and winter barley yields at 5.0-11.9 MT/ha, they say. Generally though "Yields to date have been better than expected, with many farms reporting yields above the farm average," they add.

Whilst it's still early days, final wheat yields might come in at around 7.6-7.8 MT/ha, which is in line with the 5-year average of 7.7 MT/ha, they suggest. "The best yields have come from early drilled (September) crops on moisture retentive soils," they note.

The Russian grain harvest meanwhile now stands at 49.5 MMT off just over 40% of the planned cropping area. Wheat accounts for 34.7 MMT of that. That's within 3 MMT of last year's entire wheat crop despite the fact than only 46% of the planned area has been harvested so far. Average yields are still holding up surprisingly well at 3.01 MT/ha, up 38% versus 2.18 MT/ha this time last year. Everything now hinges on how the spring wheat harvest pans out in Siberia. Russian growers have also just begun the harvesting of corn, soybeans and sunseeds.

The Ukraine grain harvest currently stands at just under 32.5 MMT, with almost all the winter and spring wheat and barley now cut. The winter wheat harvest is 22.7 MMT, which along with 430 TMT of spring wheat gives an all wheat crop of in excess of 23 MMT in bunker weight. That suggests a clean weight wheat harvest of around 21.5 MMT this year, up 36% on last year's production.

Ukraine has hit the ground running as far as the new 2013/14 season is concerned, with grain exports so far up 34% on last year, according to the local Ag Ministry.

Kazakhstan gowers are just starting to get stuck into their grain harvest, with 1.16 MMT in the bin so far. Plentiful rainfall in April through to July appears to have really given their crop a lift, with early yields so far up 65% on year ago levels.

Chicago Market Finds Some Traction

15/08/13 -- Soycomplex: Concerns about a drier weather forecast for the Midwest and very strong export sales appeared to trigger some short-covering. "August rainfall is the main factor affecting soybean yields, the heavier the better. Rainfall boosts pod filling, enlarging the seed size. Iowa is the largest US corn and soybean state and also the driest. Only half of normal rainfall has occurred in the recent 6 weeks. The weather pattern could undergo a major change next week, becoming much warmer. Mid to upper 80's F are predicted by Tuesday, compared to low-mid 70's F yesterday. This is a mixed blessing. Retarded crops need heat to spur development, but moisture stress would intensify if heavy rains are not received," said Martell Crop Projections. Weekly export sales for soybeans came in negative to the tune of 10,500 MT for old crop, but a much larger than anticipated near 1.9 MMT for new crop (versus expectations of around 900 TMT - 1.1 MMT). China took the lion's share of that with over 1.3 MMT along with a further 417 TMT going to unknown destinations. Also adding support was news that the USDA's Farm Service Administration said that an intended 1.6 million acres of US soybeans never got planted this year. The numbers included 203,760 acres of soybeans in Minnesota, 418,046 in North Dakota, 113,007 in Illinois and 106,350 in Iowa. AIR Worldwide (a Boston based agricultural consultant) estimated US 2013 soybean yields at 44.3 bu/acre versus Monday's USDA estimate of 42.6 bu/acre. China sold 199 TMT (40%) of the 500 TMT of soybeans offered up at auction today, a far better result than last week's 18%. MDA CropCast increased their US soybean production estimate by 23 million bushels from last week to 3.238 billion bushels citing improved yield potential. The USDA said 3.255 billion on Monday. Sep 13 Soybeans closed at USD12.88 1/4, up 18 3/4 cents; Nov Soybean closed at USD12.65 1/2, up 26 1/2 cents; Sep 13 Soybean Meal closed at USD409.80, up USD1.90; Sep 13 Soybean Oil closed at 43.12, up 78 points.

Corn: Corn finished with impressive gains, continuing with the recent yo-yo theme, also on strong export sales and weather worries. Again, short covering was a feature with fund money now holding an unusually large short position in CBOT corn. Weekly export sales came in at net reductions of 59,100 MT for old crop and sales off 836,100 MT for new crop. The latter easily beat trade forecasts for sales of 250-450 TMT. "Prolonged coolness has slowed down crop development in the Northern Midwest. This is concerning, because northern corn was planted on a delayed timetable in a cool wet spring. Corn development is retarded in northern Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota and North Dakota. An early fall frost would be very damaging," said Martell Crop Projections. The FSA said that an intended 3.4 million acres of US corn didn't get planted this year, including 613,257 acres in the top producing state of Iowa, along with 201,763 in Illinois, 616,671 in Minnesota and 498,837 in North Dakota. AIR Worldwide estimated US 2013 corn yields at 157.6 bu/acre, more than 3 bu/acre higher than the USDA's Monday estimate of 154.4 bu/acre. MDA CropCast added 46 million bushels to their US 2013 corn production forecast from last week to increase that to 13.871 billion bushels, citing favourable yield prospects. The USDA said 13.763 billion bushels on Monday. They also increased their estimate for Ukraine by 2.2 MMT from last week to 27.6 MMT. Ag Canada predicted a Canadian corn crop of 13.15 MMT, up marginally on the 13.06 MMT produced last year. Strategie Grains cut their EU-28 corn production forecast slightly, from 65.9 MMT to 65.7 MMT, although that's still 15% up on year ago levels. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said that Argentina's corn harvest is 98.8% done. They said that the average corn yield is 7.27 MT/ha versus 6.74 MT/ha last year. They estimated Argentina’s 2013 corn crop at 24.8 MMT, unchanged from their previous estimate. Sep 13 Corn closed at USD4.81 1/2, up 16 3/4 cents; Dec 13 Corn closed at USD4.72 1/4, up 17 cents.

Wheat: Wheat closed modestly higher on all three exchanges, helped by a firmer corn market. "The wheat market remains a reluctant follower with corn outperforming wheat by a large margin," said Benson Quinn Commodities, and I couldn't have put it better myself. Weekly export inspections of 490,100 MT for delivery in the 2013/14 marketing year weren't great - down 33 percent from the previous week and 34 percent from the prior 4-week average. Brazil was the top customer for the second week running taking 140,700 MT. A report on Reuters today said that as much as a third of the Brazilian state of Parana's wheat crop could have been lost to the recent frosts. Parana normally produces around 50% of Brazil's wheat crop. A further freeze is possible tonight according to some forecasts. Ag Canada estimated all wheat production there at 29.2 MMT, up 2 MMT versus last year. They see 2013/14 wheat exports little changed at 18.8 MMT, with 2013/14 ending stocks rising to 5.7 MMT versus 4.75 MMT in 2012/13. Stats Canada release their estimates next week. MDA CropCast upped their 2013/14 world wheat production forecast by 12.2 MMT from last week. They increased their US wheat production forecast by 37 million bushels from last week to 2.111 billion bushels, which is now very close to the USDA's 2.114 billion estimate. Increased acreage and improved spring wheat yields were the reason given. Production in the FSU-12 was raised 4 MMT and India's output hiked by 3.7 MMT from a week ago. The FAS said that 1.7 million acres of intended US wheat never got planted this season. Taiwan’s TFMA group bought 101,500 MT of US Wheat for Sep/Oct shipment. Jordan are tendering for 100,000 MT of optional origin wheat. Sep 13 CBOT Wheat closed at USD6.37 1/2, up 7 cents; Sep 13 KCBT Wheat closed at USD7.03, up 4 1/4 cents; Sep 13 MGEX Wheat closed at USD7.39 1/2, up 3 1/2 cents.

EU Grains Mixed, Is New Crop Corn The Next Threat To Wheat?

15/08/13 -- EU grains closed mixed, but mostly higher, although luckless Nov 13 London wheat extended its losing run to eleven straight sessions despite attempting a rally in early trade. Paris grains were supported by a weaker euro.

At the close Nov 13 London wheat was GBP0.40/tonne easier at GBP150.75/tonne and with Jan 14 down GBP0.35/tonne at GBP152.75/tonne. Nov 13 Paris wheat finished the day EUR3.75/tonne firmer to close at EUR185.75/tonne.

The world wheat crop just keeps getting bigger. MDA CropCast today added a hefty 12.2 MMT to last week's forecast, making the global 2013/14 wheat crop 50 MMT higher than last year, a rise of almost 8%. Output in the FSU-12 led the way, with an increase of 4 MMT on last week to 99.1 MMT, a 36% increase on 2012/13.

They now forecast wheat production in Russia up 40% at 53.1 MMT, with the Ukraine crop seen rising 39% to 21.5 MMT and Kazakh output jumping 72% to 21.5 MMT.

The rise in world wheat production wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't also accompanied by a large hike in the global corn crop to easily record levels as well. MDA CropCast raised their forecast by 2.9 MMT from last week to 931.5 MMT, up 112.5 MMT, or 13.7% versus output in 2012/13.

Strategie Grains also joined the growing list of forecasters increasing their wheat production estimates. They now peg EU-28 soft wheat output at 134.2 MMT, up 800 TMT on last month and a 7% increase on last year. They have the durum crop at 8.1 MMT, giving an all wheat production of 142.3 MMT which is 900 TMT more than the USDA said on Monday.

The French analysts agreed with the USDA that the EU will export a record 22 MMT of wheat in 2013/14, noting relatively low EU prices and brisk international demand.

They also added 1 MMT to their EU-28 barley production estimate from last month, taking output to 58.3 MMT, also 7% up versus last year. The EU-28 corn crop will total 65.7 MMT, a 15% increase on 2012/13, they added.

ODA meanwhile said that the French soft wheat crop will total 37.2 MMT, with yields averaging 7.45 MT/ha. That's above forecasts of around 36 MMT from the French Farm Ministry and FranceAgriMer. The latter said earlier in the week that French wheat yields north of the River Seine were "good to very good" - typically coming in at around 8-9 MT/ha, and even as high as 12 MT/ha in some cases.

SovEcon said that Russia exported around 2.5 MMT of grains in July, with shipments in August and September expected to rise to around 3 MMT/month. They see total 2013/14 exports at 19-20 MMT, including 14-15 MMT of wheat.

The Russian Ag Ministry said that carry in grain stocks from 2012/13 were 7.2 MMT, with production this season now estimated at 90 MMT and domestic consumption of 70.1 MMT. They also see exports possibly as high as 20 MMT versus around 16 MMT in 2012/13.

Ukraine is extremely active on the export front, loading 330 TMT of wheat and 286 TMT of barley for export last week alone, according to Agritel.

Despite all this stiff competition, EU wheat exports have also got off to a strong start to the 2013/14 campaign, as highlighted by yesterday's announcement that Brussels had issued soft wheat export licences for almost 700 TMT this past week. Will they hold up at these levels though once new crop corn also comes onto the market?

New crop Nov 13 French corn is almost EUR20/tonne cheaper than Nov 13 wheat on the MATIF market. French corn FOB Bordeaux at harvest is currently quoted in the market at around EUR167/tonne and Ukraine corn is even cheaper.

Chicago Market Rebounds On Short Covering

14/08/13 -- Soycomplex: The soy market rebounded on what seems to be short covering. China was confirmed as buying 110 TMT of US soybeans for shipment in 2013/14. Argentine soybean crush workers were said to be staging a one day strike today in the port of Rosario. World Weather said yesterday that they expect favourable crop development weather in the Midwest for the next 10 days. Whilst the Midwest forecast is dry, soil moisture should be high enough to support crop development in most of the Midwest, they said. "The key to the soybean yield is how much rain occurs in the pod-filling period. Very wet conditions in August promote the highest yields from larger seed formation inside pods. With very wet conditions four seeds may develop inside pods, instead of only three. So far in August soybeans have received near normal rainfall. The slow development in soybeans due to coolness means the key pod filling period may extend into September. Warming temperatures would be appreciated to drive development. However, the 5-day outlook is cool and dry," said Martell Crop Projections. The NOPA July crush report comes out tomorrow with the trade expecting a crush of 117-119 million bushels compared to 144 million in July 2012. Trade estimates for tomorrows weekly export sales report for beans are from 0 to 100 TMT for old crop and 900 TMT to 1.1 MMT for new crop. Aug 13 Soybeans expired at USD13.68, up 8 1/4 cents; Nov 13 Soybeans closed at USD12.39, up 11 1/4 cents; Sep 13 Soybean Meal closed at USD407.90, up USD6.10; Sep 13 Soybean Oil closed at 42.34, down 28 points.

Corn: The corn market also got a what looks like short-covering boost after Sep 13 closed at the lowest level for a front month in almost 3 years last night. Friday will bring the latest Commitment of Traders report. Last week's report had funds sitting on a record short position in corn. Weekly ethanol production came in at 857,000 barrels per day, up 4,000 bpd versus a week previously. South Korea KFA bought 68 TMT of US or South American origin corn for Feb shipment. South Korea's Kocopia cancelled a tender for 55 TMT of optional origin corn for Dec shipment, saying that it expects prices to decline further. The Taiwan Sugar Corp is tendering for 29 TMT of US corn and 5 TMT of US beans for Sep/Oct shipment. There's still much debate over potential US corn yields this year. "The July temperatures in the Midwest were cool, 1.5 degrees below normal, alleviating moisture stress to a degree. However 'rain makes grain' during the key pollination stage. History confirms the wettest July's produce the highest yields. Pollination is a moisture-intensive period, demanding very heavy rainfall to optimize the yield. July rainfall this season was below normal 2.9 inches against 3.8 inches for the long-term mean. Indeed this July was the driest since 1991 when the corn yield finished 6.7% below trend. Another close match is 2002 when the national yield fell 7.5% below trend. However, in the latter case, hot July temperatures made moisture stress worse," noted Martell Crop Projections. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report are 250-450 TMT. Sep 13 Corn closed at USD4.64 3/4, up 9 1/2 cents; Dec 13 Corn closed at USD4.55 1/4, up 8 cents.

Wheat: Wheat closed higher on all three exchanges on profit-taking after Sep 13 CBOT wheat last night closed at the lowest close for a front month since June 2012. A rebound in corn prices also helped provide some support. Funds are also sitting on a sizable short position in CBOT wheat, not record short but not far off it. Russia's Ag Ministry lowered their 2013 grain production estimate from 95 MMT to 90 MMT on an anticipated fall in yields as harvesting of spring grains progresses. They said that Russia has harvested 47.0 MMT of grain so far versus 41.8 MMT a year ago. Ukraine's Ag Ministry meanwhile are forecasting a record grain crop this year, combined with record exports in 2013/14. "Russian cash offers aren’t reflecting record production. This may be the result of interior locations bidding aggressively away from the port, but it could also be an indication that USDA’s 17 MMT estimate on Russian exports is perhaps 3 to 4 MMT too high," said Benson Quinn Commodities. Weekly export sales of 726,200 MT last week were at the top end of expectations of 500-700 TMT. The trade is looking for a similar volume in tomorrow's report. EU weekly soft wheat export licences were the largest of the marketing year so far at almost 700 TMT. With the USDA forecasting the EU to harvest its third largest crop ever, and exports predicted to rise from the 20 MMT predicted last month to 22 MMT, US offers will need to remain sharp to pick up any non traditional business. Jordan bought 50 TMT of feed barley for April shipment in a tender. Sep 13 CBOT Wheat closed at USD6.30 1/2, up 2 1/4 cents; Sep 13 KCBT Wheat closed at USD6.98 3/4, up 2 1/2 cents; Sep 13 MGEX Wheat closed at USD7.36, up 3 1/2 cents.

London Wheat Ends At 19 Month Low

14/08/13 -- EU grains closed mostly lower, with front month Nov 13 London wheat extending its losing streak to ten straight sessions.

London wheat closed with Nov 13 GBP3.35/tonne lower at GBP151.15/tonne, Jan 14 was GBP3.40/tonne easier at GBP153.10/tonne and Nov 13 Paris wheat fell EUR1.75/tonne to EUR182.00/tonne.

Nov 13 London wheat finished at the lowest close for a front month since January 2012 even though we are about to harvest our smallest crop in years. Why?

Following yesterday's news that the UK had imported almost 3 MMT of wheat in the year recently ended - the most since 1978 - an interesting report on suggested that some UK millers may have got used to regular uniform supplies of imported wheat in a hassle-free manner. They might now be reluctant to switch back to home produced wheat, it is inferred.

Of course they will switch, given a sufficiently large price incentive, but whether that is a pound, a fiver or more remains to be seen. What we also don't know is how much foreign wheat have they already committed to?

UK farmers have hitherto been reluctant sellers of wheat, and perfectly understandably so given the uncertainty surrounding yields and quality. It was a subject of common discussion at Cereal 2013 among the merchants that forward contracted volumes were much lighter than in a normal year. Again this is hardly a surprise given that many oversold their crop last year and had a financial penalty to pay.

With little forward domestic wheat offered, UK feed compounders have been forced to look elsewhere and have been merrily filling their boots with cheap Eastern European and Black Sea corn instead. Large volumes are already lined-up to be shipped in as soon as new crop supplies become available a couple of months from now.

Besides highlighting the increased domestic usage of imported wheat (and corn) in 2012/13, yesterday's import/export stats also said that June wheat exports were unusually high and were in fact the largest since November. This would appear to suggest that old crop stocks were/are higher than many expected, and therefore carry-in to 2013/14 will be fairly sizable considering that we only produced 13.3 MMT of wheat last year. It is likely that much of the old crop that is left is not of great quality too.

So we have a situation where, despite facing an even smaller UK crop than last year in 2013, there appears to be plenty of old crop wheat about, some of it and quite possibly most of it, of questionable quality. We also have an end user that feels comfortable with imported wheat or corn, and in some cases already has plenty of that forward bought. In addition, the UK producer probably has much more of his wheat left to sell (I suspect in many cases 100% of it) as he prepares to fire up the combine than would normally be the case.

Meanwhile, the Ukraine Ministry upped their forecast for August grain exports from 1.5-1.7 MMT to 2.0 MMT, saying that demand is high. They forecast 2013/14 grain production at a record 57.1 MMT, up almost 24% on last year. They currently see exports this season also at record levels - beating the existing all time high of 24.5 MMT set in 2011/12 by 3.5 MMT at 28.0 MMT.

Other estimates are even higher. Local analysts APK Inform today forecast Ukraine's 2013/14 grain exports at 30.4 MMT, up 30% on 2012/13, including 18 MMT of corn, 9.5 MMT of wheat and 2.5 MMT of barley.

The Hungarian Ag Ministry forecast their wheat crop up 27.5% this year to 5.1 MMT, with exports expected to rise to 2.0 MMT in 2013/14.

Germany's DRV today raised their wheat production estimate to 24.35 MMT from 24.07 MMT and up 8.8% versus 22.39 MMT last year. They also increased their rapeseed production estimate to 5.86 MMT from 5.58 MMT and up 30% versus 4.5 MMT.

The USDA's FAS office in Morocco said that the country had harvested 9.7 MMT of grains this year, including 5.1 MMT of wheat, a rise of 91% versus 2012. Consequently their wheat import requirements will fall 50% to 2.0 MMT, they added.

Brussels issued 694 TMT of soft wheat export licences this week, the highest weekly total of the marketing year so far. That brings the 2013/14 marketing year to date total to 2.65 MT. Of that total France, as you might expect, has so far applied for licences to export the most (836 TMT) followed by Germany (774 TMT). What you might not expect is to see Romania in third slot at 587 TMT.

The UK incidentally has so far only applied for licences to export 2,050 MT of wheat in 2013/14. Brussels has meanwhile granted import licences for 125 TMT of soft wheat to come into the EU so far and the UK is the leading applicant taking 54 TMT of those.

Holiday Update - Brown Is The New Black

Being on holiday here is a bit like attending an international summit of the United Nations (I imagine, I haven't actually been on one) - especially if that summit was being held in Moscow or Beijing - you can hardly move for Russians and Chinese.

One Russian party consists of a well built, very tight Speedo-clad, heavily tattooed, completely head shaven bloke who I've immediately christened George Daweski due to his uncanny resemblance to the ex Shooting Stars star. He looks like he is probably a hit man or something and sports an enormous cross on a chain round his neck, as opposed to being a piano playing gay bloke in a baby grow. Mrs Daweski is clearly no stranger to the pie counter. Young Daweski Jnr is a right chip off the old block, even down to also having his head completely shaven despite being only about 10, which gives him a "have I got Lukemia or is this trendy where I come from" look. Then there's what I imagine was Mrs Daweski's sister, who clearly likes to accompany her sibling to the pie shop on a regular basis, along with what looked like Mrs Daweski's niece. She's about 16 and looks like jail bait in a bikini so small that even Posh & Becks would blush. No doubt she will be looking for a husband to buy her her very own pie shop as soon as possible. Let's hope George likes him, as it's not very easy to pick up your teeth with broken fingers is it?

Then we have the Chinese contingent. I keep thinking "surely they're not just gonna let these kids go on holiday on their own without an adult in charge?" before I realise that most of them are probably husband and wife despite only looking about 12.

We still see Posh & Becks every day, gliding past the pool, on parade. He appears to have soiled what appeared to be an endless supply of white see through kecks and switched to little mini skirt sized sarongs now. He's still wearing the thong though. I'd love to know if it's the same one or if he has different ones for each day. "Today's going to be a brown thing day, Victoria" I imagine he announces in Ainsley Harriot style.

We're not paranoid or anything, but we know that they're talking about us in the evening. Every time we look at them they're looking at us. Freaks. Either he's saying "Is that that famous Nogger the Blogger bloke." (Unlikely). Or "Look at that prick, he hasn't even brought any see through trousers with him." To which Posh replies "Yes dahling, and that common looking woman he's with still has her cheekbones in their original place. How totally unfashionable."

Then there's Ignorant Dad. He sits in the bar texting and smoking whilst his poor son hangs around willing him to go in the pool with him, or have a game of ball or something.

The Ukraine Fudge Packers are still here. We also now have Tattoo Boy (self explanatory), and Japanese Grandad (think Marlon Brando in the Godfather chasing his little grandson around in the vegetable patch, except this one hasn't got fangs made out of orange peel). Why I insist on giving them all nicknames I don't know. It's a northern thing I guess. It saves time. If I said to you "Dave's decided to have his knob pierced you know." You'd go "Dave who?" wouldn't you? And then I'd have to say, "You know Dave. Drinks beer. Sits at the bar, always got brown shoes on. Lives near Frank." And you're going "No, I don't know who you mean." But if I say "Nogger's decided to have his knob pierced you know," then you'd know immediately who I am talking about and we could move swiftly on to the next topic of conversation. "Really? I heard that Mullen has had his knob extended by two inches, they're all at it aren't they?" you might say for example.

The there's the ladies in their Burkha's and sunglasses. I don't know why but it seems very odd to me to don a pair of Ray Bans to cover up the only part of your body that people are allowed to see. Yesterday when they walked past I said to MrsN#3 "What happens if they want to go for a swim?" The answer came ten minutes later. They just get into the water, burkha and all. Obviously they take the Ray Bans off first, otherwise that'd look stupid. It's rather odd to see a lady in a burkha in a swimming pool because of her religious beliefs (I have to confess that I thought that someone had carelessly tossed a bin bag in there at first glance), alongside Becks with just his thong and double nipple piercings and Posh with her inflatable chest and cheekbones level with her eyebrows. It's a funny old world isn't it?

Chicago Corn And Wheat Set Fresh Lows

13/08/13 -- Soycomplex: It was a particularly choppy day for front month Aug 13 beans, which go off the board tomorrow. That closed down 14 cents, almost on the lows of the day, although other months posted modest gains at the finish. The trade still seems to be digesting the USDA data from yesterday, and trying to decide if they were in reality too low on US yields. Much has subsequently been made of a change in methodology in compiling these numbers being responsible for lower yield estimates than the trade was anticipating. Planted acreage was estimated at 77.2 million acres versus 77.7 million in July and the national average yield was pegged at only 42.6 bu/acre versus 44.5 in July. As a result, total 2013/14 production fell to 3.255 billion bushels versus 3.420 billion last month. Michael Cordonnier estimated US soybean yields at 42.0 bu/acre, unchanged from his previous estimate. The market is now looking towards the weather, it's non threatening and cool, some will think it's too cool. "A cool air mass is pressing southward through the Midwest today, dropping temperatures in the low to mid 70s F for highs. Nights would chill down into the low-mid 50s F. Temperatures would be 10 F below normal in the 5-day forecast period," said Martell Crop Projections. China said that they will auction 500 TMT of soybeans from reserves on Thursday. They only sold 18% of the 500 TMT offered for sale last week. Safras e Mercado apparently said that total South American soybean production in 2013/14 could reach 160 MMT. The USDA currently has Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay down to produce a combined 146.9 MMT. The July NOPA crush numbers come out on Thursday. Aug 13 Soybeans closed at USD13.59 3/4, down 14 cents; Nov 13 Soybeans closed at USD12.27 3/4, up 2 1/2 cents; Aug 13 Soybean Meal closed at USD426.90, up USD1.20; Aug 13 Soybean Oil closed at 42.58, up 26 points.

Corn: Corn fell out of bed, quickly losing all of yesterday's post-USDA report gains and then some. Having been net buyers of 14,000 contracts yesterday, funds were said to have done a complete about turn and finished up as net sellers of the same volume today. The market clearly doesn't believe that the USDA's 154.4 bu/acre yield estimate is correct. The Deutsche Bank today pegged yields at 160.8 bu/acre - if they are correct then the 2013 US corn crop will come in at 14.33 billion bushels using the USDA's harvested area estimate, not the 13.76 billion that they gave the market yesterday, a difference of more than 4%. A MDA Weather Services crop tour of 53 corn fields across admittedly some of the more productive states of IN, IL, IA , MN, SD, and NE last week found an average yield potential there of 198.9 bu/acre! In the other camp, with the USDA, Michael Cordonnier estimated 2013 US corn yields at 154.0 bu/acre, unchanged from his previous estimate. Some analysts are saying that the fact that this year's late planted crop, which has also been slow maturing due to cooler than normal summer temperatures, means that final yields were probably more difficult to assess when the USDA conducted their field surveys to formulate this latest estimate. In the last 20 years, the August 1st USDA corn production forecast has been below the final estimate 10 times and above 10 times, so put your money down an take your pick. This delayed crop development will remain a big worry in the Upper Midwest for the next few months, say Martell Crop Projections. "Would late planted corn mature on time, before the first fall frost? Planting conditions in the spring were exceptionally cold and wet, leading to serious planting delays in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. The 7% of Minnesota corn in the dough stage as of August 11 ranks among the slowest on record," they note. Sep 13 Corn closed at USD4.55 1/4, down 16 3/4 cents; Dec 13 Corn closed at USD4.47 1/4, down 16 3/4 cents.

Wheat: Wheat closed lower on all three exchanges, dragged down by corn. Sep 13 corn closed at the lowest level for a front month since September 2010 tonight. It's currently difficult to imagine wheat prices going up against the backdrop of record global production (for corn as well as wheat) and given that the current price differential between the two is already rather high at close to USD2.00/bushel. Large production from the FSU nations and their eager domination of the world export market is also a factor to consider. The USDA attaché in Australia estimated the 2013/14 wheat crop there at 24.5 MMT versus a previous estimate of 25.5 MMT (and also the USDA's own official forecast), although up on the 2012/13 crop of 22.0 MMT. UkrAgoConsult estimated Ukraine’s 2013 wheat crop at 20.69 MMT (the USDA are at 21.5 MMT) versus a previous estimate of 20.12 MMT and 15.76 MMT in 2012. The Ukraine Ag Min said that their wheat harvest is 99% complete at 22.9 MMT. That estimate will be in bunker weight, although that would still imply a crop of around 21.4 MMT after cleaning/screening. Bangladesh bought 200 TMT of wheat from Ukraine to boost domestic stocks. The USDA currently have them down to import 3 MMT of wheat in 2013/14 versus 2.6 MMT last season. Russia's wheat harvest is 43.7% complete at 33.4 MMT and yields are up more than 30% on last year. IKAR estimated Russia’s wheat crop at 51.8 MMT versus a previous estimate of 52.5 MMT (and the USDA's 54.0 MMT), although sharply higher than the 37.7 MMT produced last year. Bloomberg reported that CNGOIC said that the USDA are overestimating China’s 2013/14 feed wheat usage requirements. The USDA estimated it at 26.0 MMT yesterday versus a previous estimate of 25.0 MMT. Sep 13 CBOT Wheat closed at USD6.28 1/4, down 6 3/4 cents - the lowest close for a front month on CBOT wheat since June 2012; Sep 13 KCBT Wheat closed at USD6.96 1/4, down 4 cents; Sep 13 MGEX Wheat closed at USD7.32 1/2, down 4 1/4 cents.

London Wheat Down For Ninth Successive Session

13/08/13 -- EU grains closed mixed. Paris wheat gained a little, helped by a weaker euro, but London wheat fell again, with Nov 13 now closing lower for nine consecutive sessions.

On the day Nov 13 London feed wheat closed GBP0.80/tonne easier at GBP154.50/tonne (the equivalent of around EUR180.00/tonne), and with Jan 13 slipping up GBP0.30/tonne to close at GBP156.50/tonne. Nov 13 Paris milling wheat settled EUR0.50/tonne higher at EUR183.75/tonne.

FranceAgriMer tweaked their estimate for soft wheat production there to "in excess of" 36.0 MMT. That puts them right in the same ballpark as the French Farm Ministry's 36.1 MMT, which would be only a modest rise on output of 35.6 MMT last year. FranceAgriMer estimate the barley crop at 10.6 MMT versus 11.3 MMT in 2012. They have rapeseed production at 4.5 MMT, down 1 MMT versus 2012.

In contrast, the Czech Stats Office forecast a sharp rebound in grain production there this year, up 15% to 6.5 MMT. That includes a wheat crop of 4.42 MMT, up more than 25% on 2012. They also predict record rapeseed crop of 1.31 MMT, up 18% versus last year.

The Russian grain harvest now stands at 45.5 MMT, with average yields of 2.72 MT/ha, up more than 30% on last year. The Russian Ag Ministry say that 43.7% of the wheat crop has been harvested so far, producing a crop of 33.4 MMT, with yields currently up 36% on this time a year ago at 3.05 MT/ha.

The Ukraine early grains harvest is just about done, producing 32 MMT off 99% of the planned area, with yields up 18.5% at 3.08 MT/ha. The Ukraine Ag Ministry estimate this year's total grain crop at a record 57.1 MMT. Growers there have already begun preparations for sowing the 2014 crop, for which the Ministry is predicting a rise in winter plantings of almost 100,000 ha to 8.01 million ha.

Ukraine will remain an aggressive seller of wheat, corn and barley for at least the first half of 2013/14, and will probably export record volumes of grain during this campaign. Bangladesh today agreed to by 200 TMT of Ukraine wheat in an inter governmental deal.

At home, the HGCA said that as of 6 Aug the UK wheat harvest was less than 1% complete. They estimate that 30% of winter barley area had been cut along with 10% of oilseed rape.

The final trade data of the 2012/13 season came out today, showing that the UK exported 65,713 MT of wheat in June (the most since November as shippers clear the decks for new crop), along with 7,182 MT of barley and 5,226 MT of OSR. That takes full season wheat exports to almost 737 TMT of wheat, a steep drop of 1.8 MMT on the previous season's foreign sales of over 2.5 MMT.

Cumulative barley exports were less than half of what they were in 2011/12 at 384 TMT. OSR exports fell more than 30% to 721 TMT.

The largest foreign buyer of British wheat in 2012/13 was Spain at 273 TMT (versus 542 TMT in 2011/12), closely followed by the Netherlands at 263 TMT (down sharply from 943 TMT in 2011/12). The Irish (clear proof that they'll buy anything) took the most barley (77 TMT versus 46 TMT in 2011/12).

As far as wheat imports go, these have been running at around 250-300 TMT/month since December, and came in at 276 TMT in June. That takes the full 2012/13 season imports to just shy of 3 MMT versus 907 TMT in 2011/12. Barley imports were also up, from 156 TMT to 236 TMT, whilst corn imports jumped from 985 TMT to 1.7 MMT.

Chicago Market Up On Friendly USDA Report

12/08/13 -- Soycomplex: The eagerly awaited USDA report came in bullish for soybeans with US yields, production and 2013/14 ending stocks all lower than expected. A cut in yields from last month's 44.5 bu/acre to an average guess of 43.472 bu/acre is what was expected. What the trade got was 42.6 bu/acre. US production of 3.338 billion bushels was the average trade forecast. The USDA came up with 3.255 billion bushels. The old favourite line in the sand of 125 million bushels for 2012/13 ending stocks was maintained. What wasn't expected though was a sharp drop in new crop 2013/14 ending stocks from 295 billion bushels to 220 billion. The surprisingly large cut in US soybean production this year took global 2013/14 output down from the 285.9 MMT forecast last month to 281.7 MMT. Ending stocks for 2013/14 were trimmed 1.85 MMT from last month to 72.3 MMT. China's import requirement was left unchanged at what many still consider to be an optimistic 69 MMT. Adding support to the bullish theme of the WASDE report however was news that private exporters had sold 713 TMT of US soybeans to China, along with a further 140 TMT to unknown destinations under the daily reporting system. Weekly soybean export inspections came in at 3.417 million bushels versus 1.381 million last week. The market will now turn it's attention back to watching the weather. "Midwest corn and soybeans are deteriorating with persistent drought, the most intense in the top 2 producing states Iowa and Illinois. Rainfall has been sparse over the past 45 days in the western, northern and central corn belt," said Martell Crop Projections. After the close the USDA reported soybean good/excellent crop conditions unchanged at 64%, with 88% of the crop blooming and 58% setting pods. Aug 13 Soybeans closed at USD13.73 3/4, up 33 cents; Nov 13 Soybeans closed at USD12.25 1/4, up 43 cents; Aug 13 Soybean Meal closed at USD425.70, up USD5.20; Aug 13 Soybean Oil closed at 42.32, up 92 points.

Corn: The USDA threw another curve ball for the corn market, surprisingly dropping potential 2013 US yields from 156.5 bu/acre to 154.4 bu/acre. The market was expecting an increase to 157.72 bu/acre, but this figure was down at the low end of the range of trade estimates of 154.0-161.2 bu/acre. The lower than anticipated yield meant that 2013 US corn production also came in lower than expected at 13.763 billion bushels versus the 13.95 billion estimated last month and the average trade guess of 13.98 billion. The trade was expecting 2012/13 world ending stocks at around 124 MMT, rising to around 151 MMT in 2013/14. The USDA said 123.1 MMT and 150.2 MMT respectively. US feed and residual use for 2013/14 was lowered 50 million bushels this month due to the smaller crop. Exports were projected 25 million bushels lower due to reduced domestic supplies and increased foreign competition. (Ukraine's crop was increased 3 MMT to a record 29 MMT). Mexico's corn crop was lowered 1 MMT to 22 MMT, with imports raised from 6.5 MMT to 8.0 MMT. Separately the USDA said that private exporters had reported the sale of 252 TMT of US corn to Mexico. The projected season-average farm price for corn was raised 10 cents at both ends of the range to USD4.50 to USD5.30 per bushel. China's crop was left unchanged at 211 MMT and imports were also unchanged at 7 MMT. Weekly export inspections for corn came in at 14.759 million bushels versus the expected 11-14 million and 15.149 million the previous week. That takes year to date shipments to 657.5 million bushels versus 1.453 billion bushels this time last year. "Despite cooler temperatures, reducing evaporation, moisture stress worsened in corn during the key pollination stage," referring to Iowa and Illinois, said Martell Crop Projections. After the close the USDA reported 64% of the US corn crop in good/excellent condition, the same as last week. They reported 94% of the crop as silking, 32% in the dough stage and 5% now dented. Sep 13 Corn closed at USD4.72, up 6 1/4 cents; Dec 13 Corn closed at USD4.64, up 10 3/4 cents. Fund buying/short covering was estimated at around 14,000 contracts on the day.

Wheat: Sep 13 CBOT wheat traded down to 6.30 1/2 overnight, a lifetime contract low and the lowest for a front month in 14 months. Today's USDA report was always more likely to be about corn and soybeans rather than wheat, and so it proved. The USDA left US all wheat production for 2013/14 virtually unchanged at 2.114 billion bushels versus 2.269 billion last year. "Small increases for Soft Red Winter wheat and Durum are mostly offset by decreases for White, Hard Red Spring and Hard Red Winter wheat" they said. US exports in 2013/14 were raised 25 million bushels "reflecting continued strong early season sales and an increased outlook for China imports. Despite larger expected crops in several major exporting countries, strong early season demand and higher projected world imports and consumption also boost prospects for US shipments. Ending stocks are projected 25 million bushels lower," they said. China's import requirement was increased from 8.5 MMT to 9.5 MMT, more than triple their needs in 2012/13. On a global level, wheat production was raised in Europe, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Canada, India and Turkey. "Partly offsetting this month’s production increases are reductions in South America where crops will not be harvested until late 2013. Production is lowered 1.0 MMT for Argentina based on lower reported seedings. Brazil production is lowered 0.3 MMT reflecting the late July freeze event that appears to have damaged developing wheat in limited areas of southern Brazil," they added. In other news for wheat, US weekly export inspections came in at 23.789 million bushels, versus the expected 20-25 million and 29.407 million the previous week. Current market year to date shipments are now 240.116 million bushels versus 190.543 million a year ago. After the close the USDA said that 92% of the US winter wheat crop is harvested versus 91% on average. Spring wheat is only 6% harvested versus 24% normally for this date. Spring wheat good/excellent conditions fell from 68% last week to 66%. Sep 13 CBOT Wheat closed at USD6.35, up 1 1/2 cents; Sep 13 KCBT Wheat closed at USD7.00 1/4, up 3 cents; Sep 13 MGEX Wheat closed at USD7.36 3/4, up 4 3/4 cents.

London Wheat Extends Losing Streak

12/08/13 -- EU grains closed mixed, although London wheat was lower, with nearby Nov 13 setting a new near 14 month closing low. Paris wheat ended the day a bit firmer, after Nov 13 had earlier hit a lifetime contract low of EUR182.00/tonne.

Nov 13 London wheat ended the day GBP0.90/tonne easier at GBP155.30/tonne and with Jan 14 down GBP1.40/tonne at GBP156.80/tonne. Nov 13 Paris wheat finished the day EUR0.25/tonne firmer to close at EUR183.25/tonne.

Corn, wheat and soybeans in Chicago also set various multi-month lows in the run-up to what was expected to be a bearish USDA supply and demand report.

In a manner of speaking today's report contained "something for everyone" with US corn and soybean yields lowered from last month. Whilst a cut for soybean yields was anticipated, one for corn to most certainly was not.

In the USDA's classic "give it with one hand and take it away with the other" style they raised world 2013/14 wheat production by 7.5 MMT to a record 705.4 MMT.

"Production is raised 2.8 MMT for the European Union with the biggest increases for Spain, France, and Germany, and smaller increases for Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. Production is raised 2.5 MMT for Kazakhstan where abundant spring and summer rainfall is supporting prospects for strong yields, much as in the adjoining spring wheat areas of Russia. Ukraine production is raised 2.0 MMT based on the latest harvest results," they said. They also upped Canadian output by 0.5 MMT.

On the flip side of the coin: "Global wheat consumption for 2013/14 is raised 6.9 MMT with increases in wheat feeding projected for a number of countries and higher food use expected for India and Iran. Feed use is raised again this month for China with higher projected imports. Feed use is also increased for the European Union, Syria, Moldova, Kazakhstan, and Morocco," they said.

The global bottom line being world 2013/14 wheat ending stocks were increased slightly from 172.4 MMT to 173.0 MMT (the market was expecting 171.8 MMT).

The bits that we are perhaps most interested in are an EU wheat crop of 141.4 MMT versus a previous estimate of 138.6 MMT. However, thanks to lower EU imports and increased usage of wheat along with exports raised from 20 MMT to 22 MMT, wheat ending stocks in the EU at the close of 2013/14 were lowered from 11.74 MMT to 11.04 MMT (although still up on 2012/13's 9.37 MMT).

An EU wheat crop of 141.4 MMT means that production is up 8.3 MMT on last year, a rise of almost 6.3%. The French crop is now seen at 38.6 MMT (+1.7%), with German output at 24.2 MMT (+8%) and Polish production is 9.3 MMT (+8%). Big production increases are seen from Spain (7.7 MMT, +51%), Romania (7.1 MMT, +34%), Hungary (4.8 MMT, +21%) and Denmark (5.0 MMT, +18%). Even output in the UK was raised, from 11.75 MMT to 11.90 MMT, although that's still more than 10% down on last year.

In other crops, EU barley output was raised from 56.05 MMT to 57.12 MMT, a 4.7% increase on last year (with the UK crop unchanged from last month at 6.75 MMT, a more than 22% increase on 2012). The EU corn crop was trimmed slightly from 65.6 MMT to 65.0 MMT, although still up 11% versus last year. The EU rapeseed production estimate was raise from 19.7 MMT to 20.5 MMT, up 7% versus 2012 - led by a 20% year-on-year increase for Germany to 5.8 MMT. The UK rapeseed crop estimate was unchanged from last month at 1.9 MMT, more than 25% down on last year.

The European bottom line is more wheat, corn, barley and rapeseed than last year.

As ever, a glance over the shoulder at what's going on in "the cheap seats" frequently provides some clues as to whether the worst might now be over for prices hitting these multi-month, and in some cases multi-year lows. Here's the raw data to help you to make your own minds up.

Wheat: Kazakhstan's crop now seen +73% versus 2012, with Russia +43% and Ukraine +36%; Corn: Ukraine +39% (record high) and Russia +10%; OSR: Ukraine +83% and Russia +26%.