eCBOT Close, Early Call

The overnight session closed relatively subdued with wheat narrowly mixed either side, corn 2-4 cents lower and beans around 5 cents easier.

Crude is showing little change around $72/barrel, the US dollar is a tad higher and European stocks are hardly changed.

Frost worries from earlier in the week in the US seem to have abated. The talk now is that a low pressure system will keep the frost at bay for at least the next fortnight. The flip side of that is that low pressure also equals rain, that will not help the wheat harvest catch up. Nor will it do much to hasten soybean or corn crop development towards full maturity.

Frost talk is present however in China, and might lop a few million tonnes off production in top producing state of Heilongjiang province.

China's corn crop may also come in well below official estimates, although nobody seems to seriously think that this will mean them needing to import corn. They are still offering subsidies to shift government-owned stocks, a strategy that seems to be working quite well.

The wheat harvest in Europe is mostly finished, and production looks set to come in around 137.5 MMT, 9-10% down on last year. The euro hitting it's highest levels in a year against the dollar will mean it should stay tough for EU wheat on the export market.

Australia's wheat crop looks set to be around the 22 MMT mark at the moment, and India is hoping that it might get a crop of 79 MMT in the spring. I think that the former is much more likely than the latter.

China says that it hopes to maintain, and possibly improve slightly, winter wheat plantings at around last year's 22.2 million hectares, but then again you wouldn't expect them to say any different now would you?

There's some talk of lower wheat production again next year in eastern Europe and some of the FSU countries, due to farmer frustration at current prices and tight credit facilities to fund winter plantings.

US farmers will plant 1.3 million acres less wheat this winter at 41.63 million acres, according to Informa.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn called 2 to 4 lower; beans called 5 to 7 lower; wheat called 1 to 2 lower.