Argentine Soybean Crop Getting Smaller

As Argentine farmers get stuck into the soybean harvest early reports are filtering through of disappointing yields. Having gotten off to a very poor start with severe early season drought, heavy February rains appeared to have arrived just in time to save soybeans.

March though has returned to hot & dry weather, with very little significant rainfall during the month. This seems to have led to early ripening of soybeans still at the pod-filling stage, resulting in lower yields than had been hoped for.

The Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange cut it's estimate for soybean production by 1.3mmt to 41.2mmt on Friday, saying that just over 14% of the crop had been harvested to date.

And things could actually get much worse than that. Dow Jones are carrying a story reporting that one analyst is calling the crop at just 36-38mmt, adding that "losses may be even greater".

What To Expect From The USDA On Tuesday

If ever a market needed some direction this is it. Will we get it, or will it prove to be simply Wednesdays chip wrappings?

Suffice to say opinion is very much divided, just look at the ranges in estimates here:

Avg Est Range 2008
Corn 84.548 81.4-89.0 85.982
Soybeans 79.251 75.9-81.5 75.718
All Wheat 58.856 56.7-63.0 63.147

There are some pretty big spreads there that's for sure, over 7 1/2 million acres on corn for example between highest & lowest.

As noted earlier the final planted figures have been higher for corn than in the March intentions report in seven of the last ten years. For beans it's been the opposite way round, in eight of the last ten years the final figure has been lower than the USDA's March number.

It seems strange to me that corn plantings should be only marginally lower than a year ago, given the huge turn around in sentiment that we have witnessed since then. Not to mention in the price of crude oil & the fact that something like 20-25% of US ethanol capacity lies idle whilst producers are filling for chapter 11 on a seemingly daily basis.

The argument being put forward is pretty much corn growers will stick with what they know, the renewable fuels mandate isn't going to go away so demand will still be there and fertiliser prices have come down somewhat (corn of course is a much more input-hungry crop). All compelling arguments I'm sure.

CBOT Closing Comments


May soybeans ended 27 cents lower at $9.17 on book-squaring ahead of the weekend and Tuesday's USDA report. Argentine farmers are expected to end their one week strike over the weekend and resume sales of grains, oilseeds and livestock on Monday. The market is seeing that as bearish. I think that they market should be considering that this is probably just the first strike of many, and if I was an international buyer of soybeans I wouldn't want to be booking anything with Argentina at the moment. Bunge apparently claimed force majuere on contracts out of Argentina last week, according to media reports. The Chinese government is said to be planning to release half a million tonnes of soybeans from it's strategic reserve onto the domestic market, which may curb their enthusiasm for buying US beans for a week or two.

Tuesday's USDA report is expected to show US farmers planting 79.251 million acres of soybeans this spring (around 3.5 million more than in 2008). It is worth noting the rather large spread in estimates: 75.9-81.5 million. It is also worth noting that US farmers have planted less soybeans that the March intentions report in eight of the last ten years.


May corn was down 3 3/4 cents to $3.87 per bushel pressured by a stronger dollar and weak crude oil. May crude lost $2.11/barrel on the day. South Korean buyers bought 275,000mt of corn overnight, much of it US origin, which added some support ahead of next week's planting intentions and stocks reports from the USDA. Wet weather across much of the Midwest may delay plantings a little. Corn seed sales are reported to be holding up well, fostering ideas that we won't see a large cut in plantings this spring.

The average trade guess for Tuesday's USDA report is 84.548 million acres, as with soybeans there is quite a wide discrepancy between the highest & lowest estimates: 81.4-89.0 million is the range, compared to just shy of 86 million last year. US farmers have planted more acres than the USDA's March report in seven of the last ten seasons.


May CBOT wheat settled at $5.07 1/4, down 7 1/4 cents. Profit-taking, a firmer dollar, weak crude and lower equities all conspired to drag wheat into negative territory. Nobody seems to be able to make sense of the weather in the US at the moment, we've had a drought in the Plains, yet flooding in North Dakota. It's too wet in the east & the north and too dry in the south and the west. North Dakota, which has been declared a national disaster zone by President Obama, produces around half of all US spring wheat.

Tuesday's USDA report is expected to show all wheat acres at 58.856 million, over 4 million down on 2008.

EU Wheat Ends Week On Quiet Note

EU wheat futures closed unchanged to a little lower Friday, ending the week on a quiet note.

May Paris milling wheat closed unchanged at EUR132.25/tonne. May London feed wheat closed down GBP1.10 at GBP108.50/tonne.

All eyes are on next weeks' USDA report for some much needed direction. Whether we will get that however remains to be seen.

Besides that there is little fresh news on the horizon. On the supportive side we have some crop concerns in the US Plains, and lower plantings there, in the EU and Russia. Bearish factors remain the weight of old crop wheat still on the market and slack export demand.

Despite the HGCA reporting UK exports running at 145% of last season's levels July08-Jan09, it still seems likely that there will be plenty of old crop carried into the next marketing year.

The short-term outlook for lower sterling vs the euro may help exports a little.

Australian Wheat Output Seen Higher In 2009

Early reports suggest that 2009/10 wheat production in Australia will increase to 23.0mmt from 21.5mmt in 2008/09.

The US agricultural attaché says that the increase is mainly due to an expected higher acreage of 12.9 (12.5) mln ha.

Domestic use should reach 7.0 (6.8) mln t, of which feed use is projected at 4.0 (3.8) mln t. Exports are projected at 15.5 (14.0) mln t, and ending stocks at 6.0 (5.4) mln t.

Dairy Farmers of Britain

Dairy Farmers of Britain (DFB) is asking its members and former members to swap £70 million of their investment for shares worth a fraction of that, according to media reports.

Under the deal, each pound of investment would be worth one share with a face value of 10p.

Earlier this week Lib Dem agriculture spokesperson and Cumbrian MP Tim Farron smeared himself liberally (nice pun) in the brown smelly stuff by erroneously saying that HSBC had withdrawn its funding to the troubled milk co-op.

DFB and HSBC both acted quickly to refute that this was the case and also the suggestion made by Farron that the move could have put DFB into liquidation by the end of this week.

DFB is hoping that members will vote today to convert their loanstock into non-voting shares which will enable it to move forward with its business plan the co-op says.

Dairy Crest Shares Jump

Shares in Dairy Crest Group Plc jumped 15% Friday following news of the sale of the company's 49% stake in Yoplait Dairy Crest Ltd., to its joint venture partner, the Yoplait group, for GBP 63.5 million.

The disposal will result in an exceptional profit of GBP 50 million, with no tax expected to be payable on the divestiture. The cash proceeds will be used to repay debt and significantly improve headroom against banking covenants, the company said.

Also providing a pre-close trading update for the year ending March 31, 2009, Dairy Crest reported that its trading performance for fiscal 2009 remains in line with expectations.

More Argy Bargy

There is a large question mark hanging over the size soybean & corn production in Argentina this season.

After going into the ground during a severe drought which decimated wheat production, heavy rains fell late February. Since then we have had a return to hot & dry conditions, fooling crops into early maturity and potentially reducing yields further.

It is very strange then, is it not, that we have got very little official information coming out of Argentina as to the potential size of this season's crops.

An Agriculture Secretariat report due to be released on March 18th simply hasn't been published. The director of the department that produces the report, Mario Camarero, has been sacked. Daily newspaper Clarin says that the release of the report has been deliberately blocked.

All this coming at a time when the government is locked in dispute with farmers over the controversial soybean export tax.

Remember this is a government who say that inflation in the country is running at around 10%, when analysts reckon it is nearer 30%. Other key data on industrial output and economic growth from the national statistics agency Indec is also "questionable" experts say.

The government deny any wrong-doing or manipulation, saying that they have simply altered the way that data is collated.

Critics say that they are deliberately withholding information in an attempt to manipulate the market. There has been no official report on grains & oilseed stocks since Oct 1st, and no figures on export sales commitments since June 2008.

Yet the official state agency ONCCA, which took over crop administration duties from the Agricultural ministry last year, requires that all grain movements must be faxed through to their office by farmers or traders on a daily basis.

I smell a rat.

CBOT Close


Corn closed inside of yesterday’s trading range closing on the high end of the day’s price range. Central Illinois processor bids average $3.86 for #2 corn. Crude Oil closed up 1.57 points closing at 54.34 with Crude Oil prices hitting the highest price since November during the trading day at 54.66. USDA weekly corn exports announced today were 1,191,300 MT. Average trade estimates for corn for the Annual March 31st Planting Intentions report are 84.269 million acres with a range of 89 to 80 million acres. USDA’s 2008 number was 86 million acres. May Corn closed at $3.90 ¾ up 5 cents. December Corn closed at $4.22 ¾ up 5 ¼ cents


Soybeans closed lower today on the front months and steady to a little better on new crop soybeans narrowing the spread between the two crops. Central Illinois processor bids average $9.53. Private exporters reported to the USDA Export sales of 35,000 metric tons of soybean oil for delivery to India during the 2008/2009 marketing year. The Dow Jones closed higher at 7924.56 as confidence seems to be improving over the government’s efforts to correct the overwhelming financial crisis. Average trade estimates for soybeans for the Annual March 31st Planting Intentions report are 79.765 with a range of 83 to 77 million acres. USDA’s 2008 number was 75.7 million acres. May Soybeans closed at $9.44, down 7 cents: November Soybeans closed at $8.80 ½, up ½ cents; May Soy meal closed at $290.80, down $3.50; May Soy oil closed at $33.60, up 23 cents


Wheat closed better on Chicago and Kansas City markets and lower on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange even though Minneapolis cash grain was higher on the day. Blizzard warnings remain in effect for the Texas and Oklahoma panhandle. Average trade estimates for All Wheat for the Annual March 31st Planting Intentions report are 58.598 acres with a range of 59.9 to 56.7 million acres. USDA’s 2008 All Wheat Planting Intentions were 63.147 million acres. May CBOT Wheat at $5.14 ½, up 6 ½ cent
May KCBT Wheat at $5.60, up 5 cent;; May MGEX Wheat at $6.12 ¾, down 7 ¾ cents

China Orders Giant Grains Stock-Take, Cat, Pigeons Etc

Do China's Wheat Reserves Really Exist?

Remember that one from this very blog a month or two back?

It would seem that even the government themselves have begun to smell a rodent or two. And it's not even Year of the Rat

If they don't mind slipping the odd bit of melamine in some baby formula, then the average Chinese storekeeper isn't going to be above half-inching a few million tonnes of grain here & there now are they?

Rumours are rife of such skulduggery not to mention falsifying records to claim storage on grain that doesn't exist, Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang has ordered a complete stock-take of the country's entire grain inventory.

That could throw up some very interesting figures.

Li must have been reading Nogger's Blog himself.

I bet there are a few Chinese store keepers busy buying grain out of their own pockets right now to make up for one hell of a giant shortfall. If they have the money to buy them that is, if not I think I'd be packing in a serious hurry rather than waiting for the "auditors" to come knocking at my door.

I don't think that the old "when you said stock-take, I thought you said take stock, me very sorry," will wash with these boys. They take their jobs a little bit more seriously than that.

"Every warehouse must be checked. Every inventory book must be examined. And the examination must be complete and thorough. As a development country with a population of more than a billion. grain has always been the first and foremost issue to maintain peace and stability," Li said.

"Only when we know the exact amount of our grain stock, can we make wise decisions in purchasing and stocking grain, and managing the grain stock to cope with the need of development and reform."

Does that look like Bernard Davies to you?
A typical Chinese audit

eCBOT Close, Early Call, USDA Export Sales

eCBOT closed higher, partially reversing some of last night's losses with beans up around 8 cents, corn up around 3 cents and wheat around 5 cents higher.

Crude oil is $1.75 higher, or 3.3%, at $54.52/barrel. The DJIA is expected to open higher after several US economic readings put investors at ease.

A series of rapidly-moving storms will soak much of the US corn belt in the next couple of weeks, delaying any hopes of an early start to plantings that US farmers may have had.

In western areas of the Midwest flooding is a real problem, with President Obama declaring the entire state of North Dakota a disaster area.

Dryness in South America will aid the harvest in Brazil, but may knock a bit of yield potential off in Argentina.

The USDA pegged weekly export sales for wheat at 264,200mt for old crop and 124,000mt for new crop. Expectations had been for 300-500,000mt.

Soybean sales came in at 428,800mt for old crop and 111,500mt for new crop, compared to pre-report estimates of 300-600,000mt. China took 251,300mt of old and 110,000mt of new crop beans.

Corn sales were a robust 1,191,300mt of old crop and 101,500mt of new crop, against expectations of 600-900,000mt.

Corn sales were impressive, and although the bean numbers were only in line with what was expected, at least they do confirm that China is still around to take old crop and hasn't switched entirely to South America just yet.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: Corn futures are expected to open 3 to 5 higher; soybeans 7 to 9 higher; and wheat 2 to 4 higher.

UK Wheat Exports Up Sharply

The HGCA reports that wheat exports out of the UK have increased sharply to 2.3mmt during the current marketing year which started 1st July 2008.

By the end of January 2009 we had exported 2.3mt, a 145% increase on the 940,000mt exported during the same time frame a year ago (and a million tonnes more than the 1.3mmt exported at the same point two years ago).

The main destination for UK wheat so far this MY has been, as usual, Spain with 660,000mt (07/08 - 335,000mt; 06/07 - 706,000mt).

Interestingly though exports to the Netherlands have shown a huge increase taking 590,000mt (07/08 - 140,000mt; 06/07 - 110,000mt). Much of this, I suspect, has been low bushel weight, inferior feed-grade material.

Our third biggest buyer has been Portugal with 230,000mt (07/08 - 123,000mt; 06/07 - 181,000mt).

At this rate maybe we will get rid of most of our exportable surplus after all. Certainly there won't be too many complaints from compounders if none of this seasons rubbish gets carried into 2009/10.

With a crop of only 14mmt in the pipeline for 2009/10, next season could get interesting in the face of "new" demand from the likes of the Ensus plant on Teeside.

Russian Wheat Output Seen Down 12 Percent In 2009

UkrAgroConsult forecast Russia’s wheat output in 2009 down 12% at 56.0mmt from the 63.7mmt harvested last year.

Barley production is projected down 27% at 16.8mmt (from 23.1mmt), corn down by over 13% at 5.7mmt (6.6mmt), oats down 10% at 5.2mt (5.8mmt) and rye 2% lower at 4.4mmt (4.5mmt).

Regulators Clear Bank of Ireland Bailout

The European Commission have cleared the Irish government's proposed EUR3.5 billion bailout of the Bank of Ireland.

The Irish government is also set to splash a further EUR3.5 billion in the direction of Ireland's other big bank the Allied Irish Bank, as soon as it gets the green light from EU regulators.

In exchange for the cash Dublin will get a 25% stake in each bank, government officials on the board, caps on executive salaries and the payment of a fixed 8% dividend into the country's pension reserve.

Allendale's Thoughts On The USDA Numbers

Ahead of the USDA's prospective planting update due next Tuesday March 31, Allendale Inc. sees the 2009 soybean acreage up significantly from 2008, with declines for corn and wheat.

Allendale has soybeans at a record 80.439 million acres, up more than 4 million from last year. Corn is pegged at 85.406 million acres, down less than a million from a year ago but still the third largest in the past sixty years. Wheat planting is expected to be the third smallest in thirty years at 57.977 million acres.

Quarterly stocks numbers are also out at on the 31st. Allendale are projecting the largest March 1 corn stocks in three years at 6.905 billion bushels, compared to the previous report of 10.084 billion. Allendale anticipates record second quarter use for soybeans with stocks at 1.331 billion bushels, compared to December's 2.276 billion. Also, it could be the lowest third quarter usage for wheat since the quarterly reports started in 1975: Allendale has stocks at 1.076 billion bushels, compared to 1.422 billion for the previous quarter.

Don't Tell Anyone About This Whatever You Do

You've probably heard or read a thing or two in the media about turning algae into biofuel, but probably, like me, not paid it too much attention really.

It seems that whilst the last few nuts & bolts are being tightened up on various biodiesel and bio-ethanol plants around Europe to process wheat, rapeseed etc into biofuel. Or even whilst the footings have only just been dug in some cases. Algae is the new kid on the block.

Interesting thing about algae #1:

The oil yield from conventional crops such as palm oil is 5,000kg/ha, peanuts (890), rapeseed and sunflower (675), soybean (450) and corn oil and cottonseed (225).

What do you think it is from algae? A. 55,000kg/ha!

Blimey, that's a damn efficient way of utilising the land and stopping deforestation isn't it?

Interesting thing about algae #2:

The by-product from producing biodiesel from algae is a high-protein animal feed that can replace soybean meal in the ration.

Bloody hell, who'd have thought that? But it can't be an all win-win situation surely?

Interesting thing about algae #3:

Algae consumes carbon dioxide in the presence of sunlight. That means that the "crop" can actually "eat" the processing plants' own emissions, helping it grow, whilst simultaneously gaining CO2 credits.

Bugger me, the perfect crop. Highly efficient use of land, quality by-product, and the production process actually eats it's own shit, creating less CO2.

Hang on a minute, what are we going to do with all these other plants we've built at the cost of billions to process foodstuffs into fuel? We want to sell the seed, sell the fertiliser, sell the pesticides, buy they grain, sell the grain, exclusively market the by-product, AND get a tax break off the government whilst we're about it.

No Siree, I don't like the sound of this at all. Our entire business model was built around an old Sony CD Walkman and now you buggers have gone and invented the iPod Shuffle. You tight bastards.

Paraguay Soybean Crop Slashed

Paraguay, who are they? The world's fourth largest soybean exporter actually. Blimey, well you learn something every day.

Their soybean crop is seen around 41% down this season, according to the USDA, after being ravaged by the same drought that badly afflicted Argentina and southern Brazil.

Makes you wonder, does it not, about the accuracy of current estimates for the Brazilian and Argentine production.

Brazil might be halfway through it's harvest, but it's the south that harvests last, and it's the south that was worst affected by the drought.

Current estimates peg the Brazilian crop at around 57-58mmt and in Argentina at around 43-44mmt. I wouldn't be surprised to see those numbers trimmed by 2-3mmt each yet, giving us final output figures of around 55mmt and 41mmt respectively.

EU Wheat Drifts Lower

EU wheat futures closed lower Wednesday on the old chestnuts of ample supplies and slack demand.

May Paris milling wheat closed down EUR2.75 at EUR133.75/tonne. May London feed wheat ended down GBP1.00 at GBP110.50/tonne.

Weaker US futures later in the afternoon added to an already bearish tone, as did a weak dollar.

Russia continues to mop up most of the sizable export orders, making sales to Syria and Egypt in the past couple of weeks at levels around $165/tonne. That is the equivalent of around GBP112/tonne, which indicates exactly why we aren't competitive.

Saudi Arabia is tendering tomorrow for 500,000mt, a slice of that action might add some cheer to EU trade.

CBOT Closing Comments


May corn closed down 8 cents at $3.85 3/4 per bushel. Corn has been unable to break and hold above $4 recently and seems stuck in a sideways pattern ahead of next week's USDA reports. Despite sharply lower prices than twelve months ago, many analysts are expected similar corn acres to be planted by US farmers to last season.


May soybeans closed 16 cents lower at $9.51 a bushel. Even old crop came under pressure, despite the strike in Argentina and tight stocks situation, ahead of next week's USDA reports. US farmers are expected to plant anywhere from 2-5 million acres more beans in 2009. Brazil are about halfway through their harvest, and Chinese buying interest may well be switching there.


May wheat slumped 27 cents to $5.08 a bushel. Some rain relief for winter wheat crops on the US Plains may be in sight later in the week. Meanwhile Russia remains the world's most aggressive exporter of wheat picking up orders from Egypt & Syria amongst others in the past couple of weeks. Even normally reliable Japan isn't tendering this week for US wheat. With it's own expected 78mmt harvest about to kick off, and storage space already tight, India is said to be about to lift it's export ban.

Overnight Markets Latest

The overnight grains are slightly weaker on the eCBOT market, with soybeans reversing last night's gains at around 10 cents lower, corn and wheat are both down 2-3 cents.

There is very little fresh fundamental news to go on. The Argentine farmers strike remains supportive for nearby beans in particular.

The soy harvest in Brazil is around 45% complete according to Celeres, with only 40% of the crop sold compared to 60% at the same time last year. Private reports continue to suggest that current official production estimates are too high, and that early season drought and reduced fertiliser application has cut yields this season.

Early season drought and generally hot & dry conditions this past few weeks may also knock a few bushels off soybean yields in Argentina too.

US winter wheat remains stressed from warm temperatures and lack of rainfall in the south and Plains. On the bearish side however US exports continue to lag with Russia picking up the lions share, including another 100,000mt to Syria earlier this week.

Everybody is looking to next week's USDA planting intentions report for some much-needed guidance & direction. Will we get it? Chances are it will be consigned to the history folder within 24 hours if recent reports have been anything to go by.

VION Restructures

Europe's largest meat processing company, VION, is to restructure to a business model with regional control for two core activities Food and Ingredients, the company says.

The move follows the acquisition of the Grampian Country Food Group in the UK in August last year and the change in the make-up of the Executive Board, which was announced in November.

VION’s new organisation and business model came into effect on 19 March, replacing the divisional structure which has been in place since July 2006.

VION has two core activities: Food and Ingredients. In the new organisational structure both activities have been anchored at Executive Board level in order to guarantee the synergy between both activities, the company says.

Organising the two core activities at regional level, VION says will enable it to operate as close as possible to the markets of clients and suppliers.

VION has an annual turnover of EUR9.6 billion and employs 35,500 staff worldwide.

Romania Gets EUR12.95 Billion IMF Loan

Romania became the third EU member to receive a loan from the IMF in recent months (Hungary and Latvia were the first two), bagging a two-year rescue loan of EUR12.95 billion.

The country will receive the first tranche of EUR5 billion sometime this summer, say the IMF. I bet they can't wait for that cheque to arrive.

I want some new shoes

In total Romania says it needs a EUR20 billion bailout, the balance will come from the EU, World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Sainsburys Report Good Q4

J Sainsbury Plc has posted is fourth quarter trading statement for the period up until 21 March 2009, saying that shoppers looking for cheaper deals increased Sainsbury's sales by 6.8%.

Justin King, chief executive of Sainsbury's, said its 'Switch and Save' campaign in January had driven a 60% year-on-year rise in sales of its cheaper 'basics' range.

He also said the supermarket was benefiting from the growing trend of customers choosing to cook at home.

Sainsbury's like-for-like sales also rose, up 6.2% from the beginning of the year.

The company said it was serving more customers and shoppers were buying more items when they visited its stores.

Sainsbury's will announce its full-year financial figures on May 13.

Sainsbury's is lagging behind its fierce rival Wm Morrison, however. Morrison's recently announced underlying sales growth of 7.9 per cent for its financial year to the start of February.

UK: Lupins To Replace Soymeal?

According to All About Feed, researchers from the livestock and arable sectors in the UK have co-operated on a five-year Defra sponsored project investigating whether lupins could become a viable source of home-grown protein in animal feed.

The study concluded that lupins may be used as a direct replacement for soya meal, thanks to high crude protein levels of 30-40pc, they say.

The crop also requires relatively low input and could provide UK farmers with a valuable alternative break crop with a defined end market, they add.

Ron Stobart, research projects manager for project partner The Arable Group, said: "One of the most important areas we've looked at is the crop's agronomy - what nutrients it needs, how to keep it weed-free and how it grows in the field."

"We now understand much better how it fits into a rotation and what benefits it can bring to following crops.

"We've also looked at growing it in organic systems, given the opportunity that lupins present to those looking for GM-free protein sources."

With around 77% of the EU's protein feed requirements each year shipped in from outside the region, much of it GM material, feeding lupins ticks plenty of boxes for the environmentalists.

For more info on feeding lupins see here

EU Wheat Drifts Lower

In contrast to yesterday's action where prices edged higher for little apparent reason, levels moved lower today in a market bereft of much fresh fundamental news.

Paris May milling wheat closed down EUR2.50 at EUR136.50/tonne, and London May feed wheat traded down GBP2.25 at GBP111.50/tonne.

Syria bought 100,000mt of Russian wheat (again) yesterday, underlining their presence yet again as the cheapest shop in town.

Traders are looking to Saudi Arabia's Friday tender for 500,000mt of milling wheat for some optimism that the Russian jinx may at least be partially removed.

A weaker dollar also added a bit of pressure to European prices, as did falling crude oil.

CBOT Closing Comments


May corn closed at $3.93 ¾ down 1 ¾ cent. Weaker crude oil and US stocks weighed on corn ahead of next week's important planting data from the USDA. Corn acres are expected down a bit from last year, but maybe only half a million or so. Spillover support from soybeans and the Argentine farmers' strike underpinned.


May soybeans closed at $9.67 up 11 ½ cents. Nears gained on deferreds on the back of the Argy strike. Old crop stocks are already tight, and may get further reduced if the strike pushes further export business in the direction of the US. Next Tuesday's USDA planting intentions report is expected to show a significant increase in US acreage this spring.


May CBOT wheat finished at $5.35, down 14 ¼ cents. The over-riding factor in the wheat market seems to be the lack of US export sales. Black Sea grain, particularly from Russia remains very competitive as the rouble has lost more than a third against the dollar in the last six months. Lower winter seedings and drought on the Plains are providing some support for the time being.

Nigerians Scammed By US Banks

Thousands of Nigerian nationals are getting their inboxes flooded with scam emails purporting to be from US banks.

One such email that has been forwarded to Nogger in strictest confidence that I do not reveal the recipient's name, comes from Mr Edward Umbongo, reads as follows:

My dear Nigerian friend, I am writing to you as a last resort for I have been the victim of some bad news.

Recently I have come into some huge monies from my rich Uncle Sam. How is this bad news you ask? Because, in order to receive this huge amount of monies I must make huge sub-prime loans to people such as yourselves who have little or no chance of paying the loan back in full. Please, if you could find it in your heart to foward the amount of 5,000 dollars Nigerian to my bank in New York City, America, which I call AIG, I would be most grateful for we could then begin the loan process.

I would not ask this of you, my dearest friend whom I have never met if I did not trust you implicitly.

This arrangement will also guarantee you a large portion of this huge amount of monies. However I must ask that you make every effort to show your good faithfulness. It is not my doing but that of my wicked Uncle. He will not loan me the monies to loan you if I do not.

Sincerely, Peter O'Sullivan,

Red Meat Could Make You Blind Now

People who eat 10 or more portions of red meat per week are 50% more likely to suffer vision loss due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in people past 50 in the developed world, according to a recent study.

Here: "Eating fifteen Kentucky Fried Chickens a day saved my sight" says Jonathan Edwards

UK Biofuels Usage

Latest figures from the Renewable Fuels Agency report that 741,000mt of biodiesel and 142,000mt of ethanol were used in the UK between April 15 and December 14, 2008, putting biofuel's share of the total total UK fuel supply market at 2.7%.

During the period around 302,000mt of the biodiesel used was produced from soyoil, 218,000mt from rapeseed oil, 89,000mt from palm oil and 79,000mt from tallow.

With regards to ethanol, 118,000mt was derived from sugar cane, 23,000mt from sugar beet and 1,000mt from molasses.

Red Meat Is Bad for You

A US study suggests that people who eat red meat every day are more likely than others to die of heart disease and cancer.

The National Cancer Institute study found that those who ate the equivalent of a hamburger each day were 30 percent more likely to die during the 10 years of the study than those who ate fish or poultry, the Washington Post reported Monday.

Of course the study was carried out in America, where the definition of "a humburger" maybe means something a little different to what we are used to in Blightly.

Would you like to go large with that?

eCBOT Close, Early Call

eCBOT grains closed mixed, mostly a little higher in a quiet session Tuesday. Beans finished 6-7 cents higher, corn flat to 1 cent firmer and wheat down 1-2 cents.

The Argentine farmers' strike continues to support soybeans, especially nearby months, on ideas that the US may pick up some extra export business to continue the recent good run.

Old crop stocks are already tight, any increase in sales now will extenuate matters further.

Dry & warm Argentine weather is seen as potentially reducing yields rather than increasing them at the moment.

Further forward however the USDA are expected to announce US farmers will increase spring soybean plantings anywhere from 2-5 million acres in 2009. With beans at their second highest pre-planting levels ever why wouldn't they?

Corn plantings may be reduced, but only marginally many are saying.

After the close last night the USDA released their weekly crop condition ratings for wheat, increasing good/excellent in Kansas by on point to 42%, Texas also rose by a point, but only to 13% good/excellent, Oklahoma fell one pip to 24% good/excellent.

QT Weather show quite a bit of rain in the five day forecast, some parts of Kansas may pick up a maximum of 2 inches, but the majority of the rain looks like bypassing wheat country & falling in the Mississippi Delta region with accumulated totals of up to 6 inches expected.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: July corn called steady to 2 cents higher; July soybeans called 5 to 7 cents higher; July CBOT wheat called flat to 2 cents lower.

Just Being Neighbourly

Mark Easton, a town councillor in Utah, had a beautiful view of the mountains, until a new neighbour purchased the land below his house and built a new home.

Picky Mr Easton calculated that the new home was fractionally higher than the planning dept had approved, so he went to the local authority to make sure they enforced the roof line height.

The new neighbour had to drop the roof height, at great expense. Whilst they were about it the neighbour asked the builders for some new shuttering to be installed as well.

Mr Easton has been onto the planning department again, saying that he wasn't too keen on the look of these shutters either & could they pop round to investigate.

This is what they found:

The Bastard!

The local authority said the vents can stay since there is no planning law referring to shutter design.

Filing For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Today Is...

...US supermarket chain BI-Lo, which employs over 15,000 people and has 215 grocery stores nationwide.

The company has two loans totalling $360 million due to mature on Thursday this week which it says it can't repay or refinance in the current market.

"Unfortunately, the current credit environment is very challenging. After extensive discussions with our lenders and careful consideration of all available alternatives, we determined that in order to maintain business operations and customer service without interruption while we address this debt maturity, a court-supervised restructuring is appropriate," said a BI-Lo spokesman.

Deflation, But Not Today

Data today shows that the UK escaped slipping into deflationary mode for the first time in my lifetime by a whisker.

The last time the UK experienced deflation was in 1960 when:

  • Harold Macmillan was prime minister
  • Elvis Presley was discharged from the United States Army
  • Cassius Clay won his first professional fight
  • The farthing was still legal tender
  • Burnley were the kings of English football
  • Jonathan Ross was in the shit for the first time (yes I've Googled it - 17 November 1960)

Figures today from the the Office for National Statistics show that the RPI fell to a flat 0.0 per cent in February. Analysts had been expecting a figure of -0.5 to -0.7 percent.

It seems that today's figures are merely putting off the inevitable for another month. The Telegraph today is quoting a Deutsche Bank economist who is forecasting the RPI to drop to -4 percent this summer.

Deflation is defined as a sustained period of falling prices. It discourages consumer spending because shoppers think why buy today when things will be cheaper tomorrow?

The spin-off from that is slow economic growth, a further contraction in manufacturing leading to pay freezes and higher unemployment.

The RPI is also used to set the level of things like state pensions & other welfare benefits and also index-linked government bonds.

If the RPI slips into negative territory next month, the value of these things will fall relative to the value of public debt, effectively increasing debt burden.

EU Wheat Ends Higher

EU wheat futures closed higher Monday 'just because' - despite a lack of fundamentals.

May Paris milling wheat closed up EUR1.25 at EUR139.00/tonne, with November London feed wheat ending up GBP1.00 at GBP125.50/tonne.

A weak dollar and sharply higher US markets dragged EU wheat higher without a lot of fundamental back-up.

European wheat continues to miss out on most of the big export orders to Black Sea grain, and little has changed to alter that situation, traders said.

Lower plantings and increased usage in the UK could ultimately leave us with a production deficit in 2009/10, as opposed to a 3mmt+ exportable surplus in 2008/09.

CBOT Closing Comments


May corn closed at $3.95 ½, down 1 cent. Crude oil finished mostly higher and the dollar more or less around unchanged. The DJIA closed sharply higher which added some support, although the upcoming USDA planting intention report is probably the most over-riding factor in the market at the moment.


May Soybeans closed at $9.55 ½, up 3 ½ cents. Beans closed slightly higher on the day after giving up significant gains from the early trading session. Firmer crude oil lent support as did the ongoing conflict between the government and the farmers in Argentina.


May CBOT wheat closed at $5.49 ¼, down 1 cent. Winter wheat ratings in Texas, Kansas & Oklahoma showed little change on a week ago. Early strength came from sharply higher soybeans, but that was quickly eroded as the session wore on.

US Treasury Unveil Cunning Plan

US Treasury Secretary Geithner is today expected to lay out details of his plan to address the issue of toxic banking assets. The Treasury's latest brainwave is to clear toxic assets off bank balance sheets will giving investors access to low-cost government loans that could effectively allow them to borrow as much as $6 for every $1 put down as equity.

Isn't that how we got into this mess in the first place?

Pilgrims Pride Sells Plant

Pilgrim's Pride Corporation, which filed voluntary Chapter 11 petitions on 1 December 2008, has announced that it has agreed to sell its chicken complex in Farmerville, Louisiana, to Foster Farms for $80 million. The transaction is subject to the parties entering into a purchase agreement, as well as approval by the US Bankruptcy Court.

The Farmerville operations include a processing facility, cook plant, hatchery, feed mill, protein conversion plant and any associated inventory.

eCBOT Close, Early Call

The overnights closed sharply higher with soybeans leading the way up 28-29 cents nearby as Argentine farmers launch a one-week strike in protest against the soy-tax. Wheat closed the ECBOT session 10-12 cents higher with corn up around 7 cents.

Beans advanced to a 5-week high, after posting their biggest weekly advance this year last week, supported by ideas that the Argy strike will push some export interest towards the US and away from South America.

Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner is set to give some more specific details of government plans to pump up to $1 trillion mopping up more toxic US assets later today. The Fed also announced a package to buy back Treasury bonds last week.

Whilst all that is keeping the dollar weak, supporting US grains, it is also raising fears of inflation somewhere down the line. Ag commodities are beginning to be viewed as one of the better bets to make as a hedge against rising inflation.

HRW areas of the US still remain threatened by drought after another week of above average temperatures and minimal rainfall.

Chinese soybean imports jumped 61% on a year ago to 3.26mmt in February.

The USDA confirmed 110,000mt of corn sold to South Korea.

Hot and dry conditions in Argentina over the last fortnight are seen cutting final soybean and corn output in the country.

Crude oil advanced to its highest level in almost four months, hitting an intra-day high of $52.13/barrel.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: July corn called 6 to 8 cents higher; July soybeans called 25 to 30 cents higher; July CBOT wheat called 8 to 10 cents higher.

US Weather Latest

Last week was dry from California to New Jersey and in the Dakotas, says Allen Motew of QT Weather:

Last week was also warmer than normal Nevada to Maine with the warmest in South Dakota and Nebraska at 9-15 degrees above normal. The rest of the Corn Belt and Plains saw 3-12 degrees above. The South and Southeast were wetter and cooler than normal, he adds:

There is a wind of change coming however in the week ahead, here's the five day precipitation map. Heaviest accumulation in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama. Other favoured regions will be E Oklahoma, E Kansas, E Texas, and W Illinois.

Flooding will hit the Northern Plains, cold weather will slow the wheat crop in the central Plains and additional flooding will hit parts of the Corn Belt. The Delta South and Southeast will see some beneficial moisture:

Wales: I See No Sheep

Ceredigion’s Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams has expressed his concern after new figures released by the NFU revealed that 84% of Welsh sheep farmers said that they would reduce their flock if EID and Individual recording is introduced, while 32% said they might get rid of their entire flock.

The figures come from a survey of 1,000 livestock producers carried out in January and February by the NFU, NFU Scotland and NFU Cymru.

The figures come ahead of a meeting of the EU’s Agricultural Ministers on today (23rd March), where EID will be on the agenda. It was agreed to look at electronic tagging plans again after the Hungarian Government raised the issue.

Commenting, Mark Williams said:

"These new rules will cost farmers thousands of pounds so I’m not surprised that some are considering their future, but the scale of the figures should give even the most ardent proponent of electronic identification pause for thought.

"It is crucial that Hilary Benn makes it clear that the UK is against compulsory implementation, and the Government need to continue to work behind the scenes to get as many votes in the Council of Ministers as they can.

"This may well be the last chance to halt this, so the Government should pull out all the stops to get the best deal they can for Welsh farmers.

"These figures paint a bleak picture of what will happen if we are forced to implement EID."

Blimey, half the nightclubs in Cardiff might have to close on the back of this.