CBOT Closing Comments - Friday


September soybeans closed at $11.35 ¾, up 21 ½ cents, November at $10.11, up 15 cents. September soybeans gained $1.12 from last Friday’s close. There are legitimate concerns about the development of the upcoming crop due to the tight stocks this year. Strong export demand and concerns over an early frost for a late-planted and late-developing crop remain a worry,


September wheat finished at $4.67, down 8 cents. Spring wheat harvesting is severely behind schedule. As of last Sunday only 7% of the North Dakota crop had been harvested compared to 58% last year and a five year average of 62%. North Dakota raises about 50% of the US Hard Red Spring wheat crop.


September corn closed at $3.21, down 2 cents, and December at $3.29, down ¼ cent. The 6 -10 day weather forecast is for above normal temperatures in the west and cooler than normal in the east separated by normal Midwestern temperatures. Rains are forecast for Northern Plains moving south and east into the Midwest from September 2-6th. The extended weather maps are changing daily. There was lots of rain in many areas of the Midwest this week with cool temperatures.

EU Wheat Closes Lower Friday

EU wheat futures closed slightly lower Friday, reversing a surprise week of gains to end with Paris November milling wheat futures down EUR1.00 at EUR128.50/tonne, and London November feed wheat down GBP1.00 at GBP100.00/tonne.

It was a quiet day ahead of a holiday Monday in the UK. Prices appear to have reached a level where growers simply will not sell. Despite all the consumer rhetoric, this seems to have flushed out one or two buyers.

In the UK harvest progress is slow in the west and north of the country. although ADAS report that the UK wheat crop is now 80% harvested, with cutting being just about finished in the south and east.

Yesterday's numbers from the IGC of increased global wheat production and ending stocks for 2009/10 are bearish taken at face value.

There seems to be some frost potential developing for the Canadian Prairies and maybe parts of the Midwest across the weekend.

eCBOT Close, Early Call

The overnight grains closed firmer, lead yet again by soybeans, which closed 19 1/2 cents firmer on front-month September, and around 12 cents higher on the rest. Wheat closed 3-4 cents higher and corn around 2 cents firmer.

Old crop soybean stocks continue to tighten, with a late harvest set to further exacerbate the situation. the September future now stands at it's highest level since September 2008.

Weekly export sales for beans were mightily impressive yesterday at just over 2 MMT.

US GDP for the second quarter contracted less than had been expected, adding some fuel to the idea that Bernanke is right and that the recession has, or is, bottoming.

That makes the dollar a little weaker strangely, encouraging a bit of a move away from it's safe haven status. It also means that crude oil is a tad higher, both good news for US grains.

The revised weather forecasts will be of particular importance today, yesterday several were leaning a bit towards colder, even frostier in isolated parts for the weekend. Heavy downpours across a band from southeastern Iowa through Illinois and into northern Indiana are also a threat from a disease viewpoint, as well as delaying crop development and harvesting even further.

Drought in China seems to be developing rapidly, that certainly wants keeping an eye on. Indian monsoon rains remain around 25% below normal since June 1st, with just one month of the rainy season left to go. Reports suggest that soybean production here could be 15-20% lower this year.

El Nino also remains a threat to Australian wheat, although the National Australia Bank still peg production at 23.2 MMT, saying that any potential losses in Queensland and NSW are outweighed by gains in WA.

Yesterday's numbers from the IGC of increased global wheat production and ending stocks for 2009/10 are bearish taken at face value.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn called 1 to 2 higher; September soybeans 15-20 higher, November beans 10 to 12 higher; wheat 2 to 4 higher.

Air Pollution Blamed For Chinese Drought

A severe drought threatening crops in northern China, could be a result of air pollution reducing valuable rainfall, according to a new study.

"Besides the health effects, acid rain and other problems that pollution creates, this work suggests that reducing air pollution might help ease the drought in North China," said lead researcher Yun Qian.

About 2.5 million hectares of crops are seriously affected by the drought and may face crop failure in the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang and Shanxi and in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the ministry of agriculture said. Autumn grain output accounts for more than 70 percent of the country's total grain output.

The drought has quickly expanded in north and northeast China since late July as a result of insufficient rainfall and continued high temperatures.

According to the study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, air pollution in China's industrial east appears to have significantly reduced light rainfall over the past 50 years, raising the possibility that cutting pollution could ease a severe drought in the country's northeast.

The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Civil Affairs appropriated a total of 176 million yuan ($25.7 million) Friday to help relief work in disaster-hit provinces, autonomous regions and cities, according to the website official of the Central People's Government.

The money will be used in resolving grain and drinking water difficulties in drought-afflicted Hebei, Shanxi, Heilongjiang and Gansu provinces, along with Ningxia and Xinjiang autonomous regions, they say.

Landkom In Merger Talks

Landkom International PLC, the UK-listed Ukrainian farming entity, are in talks about a possible merger, according to media reports.

The company said that it had incurred "additional payment liabilities" of USD2.0-2.5 million relating to "previously unaccounted-for" costs relating to some of it's land leases.

An unexpected USD2.0-2.5 million liability suddenly popping up out of the blue probably isn't just what the company needed. Especially if they are still owed a ruck of VAT refunds on grain exports from the reluctant cash-strapped Ukrainian government, as I suspect that they are.

Crude Hovers Around USD73

Crude oil is steady around the $73/barrel mark, despite stocks data from the American Petroleum Institute and US Energy Dept this week showing that US inventories rose this week.

The phenomena of storing crude oil at sea, which took off in the spring when prices plumbed in to the $30's and freight was for nothing, has seen something of a reversal over the last six months.

As prices have climbed this trend is slowly unwinding. Back in the spring Norway's Frontline, the world's biggest independent oil tanker shipping group, reckoned that around 60 very large crude carriers were being used to store crude at sea.

That number has steadily declined to around 40-45 today, Frontline say.

News yesterday that the US economy shrank less than anticipated in Q2 2009, is adding to the belief that the global recession is bottoming.

Irish Harvest Deja Vu

It's becoming a case of deja vu for Irish growers it would seem. Most nights when I watch the weather on TV the forecaster trots out something along the lines of "before another wave of rain comes in across Ireland" or something very similar.

A report in the Irish Independent says that whilst things aren't as bad as last year yet, a succession of heavy downpours means that they are getting there.

Yields have been extremely variable they say, especially for spring barley where they range from 2-3MT/acre, with averages around 2.3-2.4MT/acre, around 16% lower than last season.

Winter wheat yields are from 2.8-4.2MT/acre, with an average around 3.5-3.7MT/acre, they say. That's down around 14% on 2008.

Ukraine: Harvest Ending, Planting Starting

Ukraine farmers are wrapping up this season by getting stuck into late crops like the sunflower harvest. Early yields are proving disappointing at around 30% lower than in 2008, according to the APK-Inform Agency.

Drought in the last three months, plus reduced fertiliser and pesticide applications are to blame, they say.

The corn crop is still to be harvested, I wonder if it will suffer a similar fate? It has been fairly widely touted that it too has suffered badly from drought the last few months.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry say that winter plantings will cover 9.1 million hectares this year, 7% lower than the 9.78 million hectares sown for the 2009 harvest.

Despite a lower acreage, rapeseed plantings will increase by around 10% according to the head of the "Ukrainian Club of Agrarian Business" as it looks more commercially attractive than other crops.

UK Harvest Progress

ADAS report that the UK wheat crop is now 80% harvested, with cutting being just about finished in the south and east after a week of largely favourable weather for the southern softies.

For us hardened northern and western types things haven't gone quite so swimmingly, in fact swimming is what most of us have been doing for a large part of the past week. Apart from walking the whippet, checking on the pigeons and eating tripe, there hasn't been a huge amount of activity in the grim north.

Overall it seems that yields are lower and quality higher than 2008, yields vary quite widely but are averaging around 7.8MT/ha, say ADAS.

The winter barley harvest is now wrapped up apart from the odd Scottish and North Eastern field, they say. As with wheat yields are seen lower than last season at around 6.3MT/ha, although again wide variations are around. Quality is good.

Around half this season's barley crop is in, 70% in England and Wales, down to 20% in Scotland. Here yields are seen slightly better than average at 5.4MT/ha, again quality is good.

The winter OSR harvest is finished apart from isolated areas of Scotland, with yields above average at 3.3MT/ha. Spring OSR harvesting is just about underway, they conclude.

IGC Raise Global Wheat Production Estimates

The International Grains Council say that the world will produce 8 MMT more wheat in 2009/10 than they had previously estimated.

Global wheat production will now come in at 662MT they say, still 8.7% or 25 MMT down on last season's record output of 687 MMT.

The extra production comes from increases in Ukraine, the EU, the US and China, it says.

Consumption is left unchanged at 642 MMT.

Their production estimate is almost 3 MMT higher than the USDA's whilst their consumption figure is more than 3 MMT lower. All these adjustments, strangely, now mean that 2009/10 ending stocks are now exactly the same the USDA's estimate at 183 MMT.

Surely, given that India's summer rice acreage is down 20%, and India have a population approaching 1.2 billion, maybe an increase in consumption there is on the cards for 2009/10?

China is the other interesting area for discussion here. I find it all very strange that a country in the grip of a terrible drought in the middle of the growing season should ultimately bring in a record crop. A quick search on the blog throws up that on Feb 7, Henan province had its first rainfall for 110 days - and that was just 6 mm. So newly planted wheat in Henan had no rain at all for the first three months of it's life, yet China brings in a record crop. Maintaining this nice steady upwards growth, no matter what, for the seventh year in succession. Now I ask you, how likely was that?

I didn't go to China to see how bad, or otherwise, things were at harvest time, and I don't suppose you did either? But come on. Planted area for the 2009 wheat crop incidentally was just 1.25% higher than in 2008, just in case you were wondering.

Lying Bastards

Potash Billionaire Spanked

Russian potash billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, in the middle of an acrimonious divorce from estranged wife Elena Rybolovleva, has had his assets painfully unfrozen by a British Virgin Islands court.

Rybolovlev, estimated to be Russia's 15th richest man, has a substantial holding in potash mining companies Uralkali and Silvinit, his $325 million fortune includes a yacht and paintings by Gauguin and Picasso. And Mrs Rybolovleva quite fancies a share of the spoils apparently.

Still, it could be worse, he could have been married to Mrs Nogger#1, Christ she was a cruel woman. She only had one eye you know, the other one was glass. You could tell which was which of course, the glass one was the one with a glint of human kindness in it.

The F Word - Frost

Patchy frost will hit northern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin this weekend as an upper low crosses Lake Superior, forecasts Allen Motew of QT Weather. On Saturday cold air moves in with temperatures in the low 40’s reaching from the Dakotas to N Iowa (early Sunday morning expect a low of 34 F at International Falls, MN), he says.

Watch out for patchy frost levels on Sunday night in N Wisconsin with 39F in Rhinelander, WI and 37F at Duluth, MN (note the 33F for International Falls, MN), he adds.

Monday sees temperatures as much as -12 degrees below normal in Illinois, Michigan and Indiana further limiting the number of growing degree days, says Allen.

Slightly further ahead weather forecast models are now showing a hard freeze moving into the Canadian Prairie for Sept 6-8. Previous model runs had only been “hinting” at such an occurrence. This coincides with the next full moon cycle of between September 4 and 11, mentioned yesterday as the first serious 'killing frost' threat of the season.

This latest “colder scenario” begins Sunday Sept 6 as a low crosses central Canada with frigid air dropping southward across the Canadian Prairies. On Tuesday Sept 8, rain breaks out in the Corn Belt along the leading edge of the frigid Canadian intrusion. On Wednesday Sept 9 a second cold air outbreak is “pulled” south into South Dakota and Nebraska behind a low-pressure center in Illinois, he adds.

The cool and rainy Midwest weather expected over the next several days will not only hamper crop ripening but also encourages the spread of disease, warns Gail Martell of Martell Crop Projections.

Rainy weather has developed along a narrow front in the Midwest over the past 48 hours producing areas of heavy rainfall. Conditions are perfect for the development of white mold and fungus that causes sudden death syndrome in soybeans. Increasingly, reports of declining soybean conditions are being reported on agriculture websites, she adds.

White mold and SDS were widespread in Minnesota in 2004, driving the crop yield down sharply aftre a very wet August-September encouraged widespread fungus disease in that state, she concludes.

WGN-TV Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling says that this year's Chicago summer is on track to become the cloudiest there since sunshine data began in 1894.

Heavy late Thursday storms also drenched eastern Iowa Thursday. In New London, just across the Illinois line in southeast Iowa's Henry County, 8.34 inches fell - 7.20 inches of it in just four hours. That's equivalent to receiving a fifth of Chicago's annual precipitation in that short period of time.

These forecasts certainly seem to be indicating that there are some serious weather threats developing, and that is maybe why the market is attempting to add a bit of risk premium just at the moment.

It appears that we are in for another season of hugely variable yields, whilst weather conditions have been close to ideal in some areas other locations have suffered from far too wet and cool throughout much of the growing season.

CBOT Closing Comments


As anticipated, old crop beans continued to extend the differential between them and new crop. September settled 23 3/4 cents higher at $11.14 1/4, and November soybeans finished 1/2 cent lower at $9.96. Old crop stocks are tight and the harvest is delayed. The later the harvest, the greater the threat of an early frost cutting production. Weekly export sales totals were much higher than expected at 2.054 MMT, of which China took 1.53 MMT of new crop. They are still behind on old crop shipments which will probably mean rolling forward existing sales.


September corn closed up 2 1/2 cents at $3.23 per bushel, and December corn ended up 3 cents at $3.29 1/4. Combined old and new crop weekly export sales of 973,200 MT were within the range of trade estimates. The USDA reported a sale of 105,000 MT of new crop corn to South Korea. Cool and wet weather across large parts of the Midwest is doing little to help corn development advance, keeping the trade cautious, with frost being mentioned for Canada at the weekend, possibly even spreading south of the border.


December wheat ended down 3 3/4 cents at $5.03 a bushel. Weekly export sales were the largest of the marketing year at 642,700 MT, physical shipments were also the largest of the MY so far. The IGC increased global wheat production for 2009/10 to 662 MMT, they also increased world wheat ending stocks by 9 MMT to 183 MMT. Spring wheat harvesting in the US continues to lag, cool and wet conditions forecast over large parts of the Midwest across the weekend will do little to help.

EU Wheat Nudges Higher

EU wheat futures continued to nudge a little higher Thursday, with Paris November milling wheat closing EUR0.50 higher at EUR129.50/tonne and London November feed wheat ending up GBP0.50 at GBP101.00/tonne.

London wheat had been as much as GBP2.00 higher earlier in the session, but fell back later as Chicago came in lower and a few saw the slightly higher move we've seen this week as a selling opportunity.

The German Agriculture Ministry surprised the market Wednesday by saying that this season's wheat harvest may fall short of last year's output, coming in at 24.8 MMT. Most private estimates have gradually been revised upwards this summer, from expectations around 24.0-24.5 MMT earlier in the year to 26.0-26.6 MMT recently.

Egypt passed on French and German wheat yesterday, booking US and Russian wheat, which may keep a lid on any future price rises.

Argy wheat plantings are said to be complete at 2.75 million hectares by the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange, that's a 40% decrease on last season.

There is talk of weekend frost potential developing on the Canadian prairies, which may hurt wheat crops 2-3 weeks behind normal development.

The USDA reported weekly export sales of 652,700 MT, a marketing-year high, up 82 percent from the previous week.

eCBOT Close, Early Call

The overnight markets closed firmer, with front month beans 11 3/4 cents higher and the deferreds around 4-7 cents firmer. Wheat and added around 1-2 cents.

Cool and wet weather in upper Midwest will do little to help crop development there, keeping old-crop stocks tight right up to the wire.

News of Argy farmers staging their third strike of the year, will just add a little bit of extra tightness, especially with Brazilian farmers 90% sold according to Celeres. Incidentally they've already got more than 10% of new crop sales tucked away before the crop is even planted.

Today's USDA weekly export sales numbers were huge for beans, coming in at over 2 MMT, much better than anticipated, with China (remember them, they're shutting the book any day now, everybody knows that) confounding the sheep by taking a hefty 1.5 MMT of that.

Egypt bought 60,000 MT of US wheat last night and Japan has bought 160,000 MT of mostly US wheat today, also today's export sales of 652,700 Mt were a marketing year high, as too were physical exports.

Corn export sales were in line with expectations of between 800,000 and 1,150,000 MT at 973,200 MT.

There are still fairly widespread reports of significant losses to still to be harvested corn crops in Ukraine and Russia. If that proves to be true, then that will take care of some of the lower quality wheats that are around.

The German Ag Ministry say that the wheat crop there this season will not come in as high as some private estimates have been projecting. Their first estimate, with harvesting just about finished, is 24.8 MMT. Quality is pretty good although yields and protein levels appear to have suffered from persistent rains in July and early August.

Argy wheat plantings are said to be complete at 2.75 million hectares by the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange, that's a 40% decrease on last season. Corn plantings are also seen sharply lower, down almost 20% to just 2 million hectares. Soybean plantings look set to be somewhere in the 18.5-20 million hectare area. The largest area on record to date is 16.6 million.

For soybeans this afternoon I'd look for a further widening of the old crop/new crop spread, despite a promising longer term outlook for record production from South America we aren't there yet.

Wheat I think will draw support from beans, decent export sales and nervous shorts who may look to get out whilst they're still in profit.

Corn could be the poor relation of the three.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn called 1 to 2 higher; September beans up 8-12, November beans 5 to 7 higher; wheat 4 to 5 higher.

USDA Weekly Export Sales

The USDA's weekly export sales report was out at 13.30 BST, here's what the lovable chumps had for us today:


Net sales of 652,700 MT were a marketing-year high, up 82 percent from the previous week. That was much better than expectation of 350,000 to 450,000 MT. The main homes were Nigeria (222,500 MT), Japan (89,500 MT), Egypt (60,000 MT), South Korea (54,500 MT), unknown destinations (46,400 MT), Mexico (35,100 MT), and Taiwan (31,700 MT). Actual exports of 450,200 MT were also a marketing-year high.


Monster cumulative net sales were just over 2 MMT, compared to trade guesses of between 800,000 and 1,250,000 MT. The vast majority was, as you would expect at this time of year, new crop at 1,966,300 MT mainly for China (1,530,500 MT), and unknown destinations (303,000 MT). the total also included 87,900 MT of old crop beans. Actual exports of 311,500 MT were double from the previous week and up 26 percent from the prior 4-week average.


Cumulative sales of 973,200 MT comprised of 265,600 MT old crop and 707,600 MT new crop. That was in line with pre-report estimates of between 800,000 and 1,150,000 MT. Unknown destinations (275,100 MT), Mexico (172,300 MT), Egypt (120,000 MT), and Syria (85,000 MT) took the bulk of the new crop. Physical exports of 1,275,000 MT were pretty robust.

Heavy Rains Hit Iowa/Illinois

Slow moving heavy rains hitting an area from Iowa east through Illinois to Indiana brought rainfall totals of as much as 3.50 inches about 3 miles southwest of Rockford on Wednesday, according to much-lauded WGN meteorologist Tom Skilling.

Today rainfall estimates off 23 computer projections suggest that coming downpours by week's end may produce totals approaching 4 inches. One forecast off the European Centre's global model places potential 5-day totals in parts of northwest Illinois in excess of 8 inches, he says.

Whilst a bit of August rain might be appreciated in some areas, with August rain tallies already at 6 to 8 inches - more than 3 inches above normal - southeast Iowa isn't one of them.

Other reports suggest that Uttumwa in southeast Iowa may have picked up over six inches of rain since this all got started early yesterday.

Glencore FH 2009 Profits Dive

Glencore International's first half 2009 gross profits have more than halved from USD3.09 billion to USD1.44 billion. Net income was down from USD2.63 billion to USD1.12 billion.

Turnover was also down sharply from USD86 billion to USD45 billion, say the metals, minerals, oil, coal and agricultural products trading house.

"The first half of 2009 contrasted markedly with the same period last year," they say.

That's still enough for a few bottles of bubbly at the shareholders meeting mind.

Full figures here

Big Three Trading Houses Regularly Beat Romanian Growers With A Stick

Three of the world's largest trading houses regularly beat Romanian farmers with a big stick it has been alleged.

"The producers are ‘harassed’ into selling the crop at low prices when harvesting it because they have no choice, they have no place to store it and the fact that sales in Romania are made as circumstances dictate gives traders an edge. We made them big with our weakness."

This is in a country where it's 'normal' to take your dancing bear into town with you when you go shopping mind, and half of the tillable area is still ploughed by horse-drawn equipment. These boys are ripe for a spanking.

So that's what happened to Joe Falloon

They could always come over here and rewire my house if they're not happy.

Full story here: Jump!

Early Thoughts Thursday

The overnight grain markets are modestly higher. Talk of a possible frost for parts of the Canadian Prairies this weekend is a concern. With wheat and canola crops an estimated 2-3 weeks behind schedule in Canada heat and dry weather is what growers are hoping for to speed the crops along to maturity. A little further forward, the next full moon cycle between September 4 and 11 is also seen carrying a significant frost risk, according to some forecasters.

Argy wheat plantings are said to be complete at 2.75 million hectares by the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange, that's a 40% decrease on last season. They aren't yet forecasting production yet, but hope that better weather conditions than last year will mean that production is not also down 40% on last year. The Rosario Grain Exchange's first estimate on output this season is 7.4MMT.

Corn plantings are also seen sharply lower, down almost 20% to just 2 million hectares, as Argy farmers prepare to plant wall-to-wall soybeans. The Rosario Grain Exchange's first estimate on soybean plantings is 18.5 million hectares, other private estimates are as high as 20 million, That would be 20% up on last season's record 16.6 million hectares. Soybean planting doesn't start for a month or more yet, so there is still plenty of time for those numbers to be revised yet.

Sunseed planting is underway with the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange saying that acreage this season will be 2.2 million hectares.

You've heard of Cash for Clunkers, now we have Cash for Corn. In an attempt to shift some corn, the Chinese government say that they will offer a subsidy to some buyers at its weekly auctions on over 5MMT of the stuff, provided that they fulfil certain criteria.

Talking of China, there's a bit of rain in the forecast for the next few days which may help alleviate drought in the north.

German Wheat Harvest May Disappoint After All

In a surprise announcement the German Agriculture Minister said Wednesday that this season's wheat harvest may fall short of last year's output, coming in at 24.8 MMT.

Estimates for this year's production have been steadily rising from the likes of Strategie Grains, Toepfer and the association of German farm cooperatives (DRV) to around the 26 MMT mark.

It would seem that constant disruptions by rain to the harvest during late July and August have caused some quality and yield problems after all.

Egypt Buys US/Russian Wheat

In a couple of tenders floating around Egypt's state-owned what buyer GASC said Wednesday it had bought 60,000 MT of US wheat, and two separate 30,000 MT consignments of Russian wheat.

The US wheat is for shipment Sep 21-30 and the Russian wheat is going to walk there of it's own accord stopping off for a rest on the way whilst it writes it's own export papers out. Probably.

CBOT Closing Comments


September beans closed at $10.90 ½, down ½ cents, November finished at $9.96 ½, down 2 ½ cents. Soybean stocks remain tight and demand strong, mainly from China. Argentine farmers are again protesting government policies that tax grain and oilseed exports. The seven day strike is scheduled to begin Friday night is the third strike this year. Limited harvesting has begun in the Deep South by a few farmers keen to try and cash in on the nearby premiums. Trade guesses for tomorrow’s weekly export sales report are between 800,000 and 1,250,000 MT.


September corn closed at $3.20 ½, down 1 cent, and December corn at $3.26 ¼, down ½ cent. Crop development remains behind the five year average with cooler than normal temperatures in the 6 to 10 and 8 to 14 day forecasts for most of the US east of the Rockies. The rainfall outlook for the next few days is wet along a frontal boundary from southeast Nebraska through Iowa into northern Illinois, northern Indiana and southern Michigan. Very heavy rainfall over 3 inches is possible with scattered strong thunderstorms, according to Gail Martell of Martell Crop projections. The trade is estimating weekly export sales between 800,000 and 1,150,000 MT.


September wheat ended at $4.78 ¾, up 7 ¾ cents. The world has a good supply of wheat but US wheat prices and quality have attracted Egyptian buying recently, with them buying 60,000 MT of US wheat today. The spring wheat harvest is lagging well behind normal and funds are heavily short, leaving the market vulnerable to a technical bounce. Export estimates for tomorrow’s weekly report range from 350,000 to 450,000 MT.

EU Wheat Ends Mixed Wednesday

EU wheat futures closed the day narrowly mixed Wednesday with Paris November milling wheat down EUR1.75 at EUR129.00/tonne, and London November feed wheat closing up GBP0.50 at GBP100.50/tonne.

It was a relatively quiet low volume day, after prices have perked up a little the last few sessions.

Buyers are still far from convinced that we've seen a bottom to this long-term bear market, but at current levels most farmers are generally content to stand aside.

A weak pound today certainly helped London wheat nudge higher, ideas that interest rates in the UK are going to stay at, or around, 0.5% for some considerable time weighed on sterling.

Denmark appear to be emerging as a competitor for UK wheat exports to Ireland and Spain although their crop is only around a third the size of ours.

The US market has been buoyed the last few sessions by a combination of talk of an El Nino weather threat in Australia, a delayed spring wheat harvest and short-covering by funds with heavy open commitments.

eCBOT Close, Early Call

The overnights closed mixed, with beans around 2-3 cents higher, wheat up a cent or so and corn down around a cent.

A firmer dollar is negative, as was yesterday's American Petroleum Institute's 4.3 million barrel increase in crude oil stocks. The Energy Dept are out at the same time as the CBOT opening with their estimate. Crude currently stands around $4 under yesterday's ten month $75/barrel high.

US temperatures are set to dip into the low 40's, possibly even the very upper 30's Sunday/Monday. It seems that a hard freeze in 2009 would need to happen early in September to have a damaging effect on the corn yields, and that is not very likely, says Gail Martell of Martell Crop Projections.

The farmer ban on beef and grain sales in Argentina is mildly supportive, although they've hardly been aggressive sellers of late given the sharply reduced crop they've suffered.

Strong export interest from China remains, and the government there only sold a token 9,600 MT of their own stocks at this week's auction.

There's concern developing over the prospects for Australia's wheat crop as the east sees temperatures as much as 16 degrees above normal.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn called 1 to 2 higher; soybeans called 2 to 4 higher; wheat called 2 to 4 higher.

Pound Falls Off A Cliff

The pound has fallen to multi-month lows today as the realisation sinks in the the extent of Britain's QE programme means that interest rates will inevitably stay low for some considerable time.

Germany says it is no longer in recession and it's got the figures to prove it. The euro was boosted by a strong reading of German business sentiment with the Ifo Business Climate Survey improving for a fifth month, and by more than had been expected.

France also recently said that it had pulled out of recession in the April-to-June period.

The positive news from the Continent is fostering a belief that interest rates will begin to rise there before too long, certainly way before the UK where the BoE is still busily printing money.

The pound plumbed to EUR1.1360, it's lowest levels against the euro since June 5th, and a five week low of $1.6162 versus the dollar.

That should help British grain exports become a bit more competitive, but it won't do much to help get the price of soya down in the UK.

US Weather Latest

The coldest air mass of the summer is on the way into the Northern Plains and Great Lakes next week then another round of colder than normal air will appear during the second week of September, says Allen Motew of QT Weather.

On Sunday and Monday morning, expect lows reaching the low 40’s with a few locations seeing 38-39F from North Dakota to Wisconsin, with temperatures of -4 to -10 degrees below normal over the Corn Belt, he says.

A warm-up and some rain moves back into the WCB late next week, before another colder than normal air mass moves back into the Corn Belt Sept 8-9th, he adds.

Although not quite cold enough for damaging frosts, temperatures this low are likely to keep the trade a little anxious over the next couple of weeks.

Crops Wither Down Under

There's a bit of momentum developing with this El Nino threatening crops in Eastern Australia story.

The problem lies in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia states which account for around 70% of the nation's wheat crop.

Queensland seems to be the worst affected state with stories here of some crops already being abandoned, and others turned over to stock.

Unfortunately for the Aussies, still smarting over their Ashes defeat, a hot and dry spring also lies in store.


Farmers watch crops wither

Hot dry spring ahead, says weather bureau

Despair as drought cripples 'Australia's Mississippi'

Russian Harvest Making Slow Progress

Harvesting this season's grain crop is making slow progress in Russia with 60.4 MMT of grain harvested as of Aug 24th, 14.9 MMT (nearly 20%) less than at the same time last year, say the Agriculture Ministry.

So far 22.8 million hectares of grains have been harvested, 12.3% lower than the 28 million that had been cut at the same point in 2008.

Crop yields so far this year are averaging 2,650 kg/ha, down 250 kg/ha compared to last year.

Despite slow progress, the official estimate of total grain production at 85 MMT still seems too low.

'The World Is Awash With Wheat'

How many times have you read that recently? Yet drought and soaring food prices mean that 3.8 million Kenyans urgently require food aid, according to the United Nation's World Food Programme.

Production of corn in Africa's largest economy is expected to fall to around 15 million 90kg bags this year, compared to 30-35 million bags normally, on a combination of drought, expensive fertiliser and civil unrest following last year's election which saw many farmers driven from their land.

"Red lights are flashing across the country. People are already going hungry, malnutrition is preying on more and more young children, cattle are dying - we face a huge challenge and are urging the international community to provide us with the resources we need to get the job done," the WFP said.

Morning Developments

The overnights are higher, with news of the Argy farmers kicking off their annual dispute with the government dominating after President Fernandez vetoed part of a bill that had already been passed by the Senate cutting export taxes for drought-affected producers.

Never slow to be off the (road)blocks Argy farmers announced a week long embargo on sales of grains and beef starting Friday.

There is also some talk of El Nino leading to wheat production losses in Eastern Australia. If that isn't bad enough the Australian Plague Locust Commission are apparently warning of widespread infestations September/November.

It's been a busy few days on the export front for a nice change with China booking 110,000 MT of new crop US beans yesterday, and South Korea booking 105,000 MT of US corn. Taiwan bought 60,000 MT of Brazilian corn and is in the market for a similar quantity of US or Brazilian beans. Japan is tendering for 160,000 MT of milling wheat of which 97,000 is US origin and 70,000 MT of feed wheat and 38,000 MT of feed barley. South Korea is looking for 55,000 MT of soybean meal in a tender today and Egypt is also back in the market for 55,000-60,000 MT of EU/US/Ozzie/Canadian/Argie wheat, and 30-60,000 MT of Black Sea wheat. They don't need a boat for the last lot, it's just going to walk there by itself!

China's weekly soybean auction is proving to be about as popular as piles, they managed to find buying interest in 9,600 MT this week, out of offers of around half a million tonnes.

The pound is down close to $1.63 against the dollar and setting a new 2 1/2 month low under 1.14 against the euro in early trade. The cost of all this QE, and the idea that we still may need more weighs.

Wall Street closed at its best levels since last November last night, buoyed by the feeling that Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is the right man to sort the job out. What was the name of that bloke who was in charge when all this shit kicked off, he was rubbish? Oh, erm, Ben Bernanke. The FTSE is also close to 10-month highs, as various bodies reassure us that the worst of the recession is over.

Crude is up a bit, albeit after falling around $3/barrel yesterday, after earlier hitting a ten month high of $75. Stocks data due out at 15.30 BST this afternoon from the US Energy Dept will be the next driver.

Did I say BST, as in British Summer Time? It's certainly a typical British summers day here today, bringing back fond memories of last year's harvest. Might go water skiing in Asda's car park later.

Argy Bargy Deja Vu

After news only last week that the Argy senate had agreed to extend President Cristina Fernandez's powers to set export taxes on grains, she reminded farmers who's the boss by vetoing a bill granting tax relief to an emergency farm bill.

The bill was supposed to provide benefits and tax relief for those farmers worst hit by drought in 2009. In a stunning faux pas Presidential ally Alberto Cantero told reporters that he had signed the bill, which was eight months in the making, without actually reading it!

Wheat planting in Argentina is now finished, and soybean planting doesn't begin until November. Corn planting starts earlier but is relatively unprofitable and carries the added risk of export bans and higher inputs.

So the bulk of Argy farmers have nothing much to do between now and November. You can probably work the rest out for yourself, it's not like they've got loads of soybeans to export anyway after last season's disaster.

Overnight they've announced restrictions on grain and beef sales from Aug. 28. to Sept. 4.

CBOT Closing Comments


It was another 'game of two halves' Tuesday with September beans closing at $10.91, up 11 cents, and November beans at $9.99, down 8 ½ cents. Old crop gained as crop development remains behind schedule, further forward however the prospect of potentially bumper yields weighed on new crop. Crop ratings advanced to their highest levels since 1992 for this time of year in last night's USDA report. China bought 110,000 MT of new crop overnight.


September ccrn closed at $3.21 ½, down 8 cents, and December at $3.26 ¾, down 8 ¾ cents. A gradual improvement over the past couple of weeks on the crop conditions report supports USDA projections of a bumper corn crop. The US corn rating increased again to 70% good-excellent, 21% fair and 9% poor-very poor, the highest condition report for this date since 2004. Cooler than normal weather is in the forecast through September 9th and could delay crop development in the eastern Corn Belt and/or North Dakota.


September wheat finished at $4.71, down ¾ cent. Last night's USDA report showed that the spring wheat harvest is also lagging. The six main spring wheat states are at 22% harvested compared to last year at 58% and the five year average of 66%. Egypt is back in the market for wheat to be delivered the last week of September from optional origin. Japan is tendering for 160,000 MT of wheat of which 97,000 MT is US origin.

EU Wheat Posts Second Day Of Gains

EU wheat futures posted a rare second day of gains Tuesday with November Paris milling wheat futures ending up EUR1.75 at EUR130.75/tonne, and London November feed wheat closing GBP2.00 firmer at GBP100/tonne.

Now that the bulk of the EU harvest is drawing to a close it appears that all but the most desperate farmers are content to withdraw from the market, unhappy with current depressed levels.

Even farmers in Eastern Europe are bemoaning current prices, a situation quite different to twelve months ago.

Wheat harvesting in the UK continues to be blighted by rain, particularly in the west and north. One Scottish farmer was reported on FWi today as saying that conditions are even worse than last year!

Generally however this has probably proven not to be the case, with yields average and quality better than twelve months ago.

Yields have certainly proved better than expected in France and Germany, although Eastern European crops have not fared quite so well.

Playing Devil's Advocate With The Wheat Market

European wheat futures have edged up a tad now that the harvest is largely in the bin, with many farmers being reluctant sellers at current levels.

Having fallen thirty quid since the beginning of June, London wheat has had the temerity to post a little rise of GBP2.75 (currently) in the last two sessions, much to the angst of some.

"To be honest, the movement seems excessive and hard to explain. External factors are driving the market," one Reuters pundit bleats.

"It's very difficult to be anything but bearish," says another punter, adding that "Spain's dockside silos are already full to bursting".

Chuck in "It might rally a bit higher in the short term...but there's no bull argument for it," with a dash of "buyers are simply not prepared to bid any more".

All spoken like men who are maybe rather keener to buy than they might like to make out?

My response to all that would be what I call my Milk Link approach: "well if you already have a queue of sellers as long as your arm, what are you doing knocking on my door?"

There's a bit of a difference between the current market and twelve months ago, perhaps the most over-riding factor is that this year we've got the Eastern Europeans moaning about prices being below production too. They aren't such eager sellers themselves this time round.

If the buyers don't want to bid, sod 'em, let them come back when they do.

You can't load a boat with fresh air you know.

eCBOT Close, Early Call

The overnights closed mostly lower in a partial correction from last night's gains. Front month September beans bucked the trend closing 5 3/4 cents higher, with other months down around a cent to two. Wheat and corn closed mostly a cent or so easier.

A firmer dollar and weaker crude and stocks is adding a bit of bearishness today.

China bought 110,000 MT of new crop US beans overnight, and South Korea booked 105,000 MT of US corn. Taiwan purchased 60,000 MT of Brazilian corn and is in the market for a similar quantity of US or Brazilian beans. Japan is tendering for 160,000 MT of wheat of which 97,000 is US origin.

Cooler than normal weather will return to the Corn Belt this weekend, says Allen Motew of QT Weather. With temperatures 8-12 degrees below normal, Monday morning will see things get into the mid-40's in Michigan, he says. No frosts are expected just yet mind, although the first week in September sees another cool-down for Canada and the northern Plains too, he concludes.

That should be enough to keep things a little 'nervous' for the next few weeks, even though last night's USDA report showed soybean development not too far behind normal.

The spring wheat harvest is still way behind schedule however, and corn progress is also lagging somewhat.

Saudi Arabia say that they will only produce 1 MMT if wheat this year, after the government decide to abandon a self-sufficiency drive saying that the cost of irrigation was too high. That leaves them needing to import 1.8 MMT in 2009/10.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: September soybeans 5 cents higher; corn and wheat 1-2 cents lower.

The Indian Clock Is Ticking

India's monsoon rains for the period June 1st - Aug 23rd remain 26% below normal, according to official data, with the breadbasket northwest the worst affected region, where rains are 39% below normal.

With less than five weeks of the four month long rainy season remaining, officials are starting to get jittery.

The country has removed import duties on many commodities in an attempt to ensure that it's population (1.1479 billion and rising last year) can be fed.

India's Commerce Minister is quoted as saying "everyone is welcome," as far as food imports go.

They've slapped a hastily-arranged ban on consumers whose monthly sugar use is at over 1,000 kg from carrying more than 15 days supply of domestic sugar. If they want to import sugar and hold that stock for more than 15 days then they are entirely welcome.

They keep saying that they will release government-held stocks of rice, wheat and sugar onto the market, but have so far failed to do so.

And this morning I read a report on an Indian commodity website saying that "the government can still feed the entire country for at least 82 days," as if that's in some way reassuring! Almost, three months, don't worry there's plenty of time for something to turn up!

Suppose Reuters or one of the other big news agencies carried a story "India to run out of food in 82 days" or something similar?

And suppose that the official figures have been 'massaged' to show things as being much better than they really are?

I feel that it would be in some way insensitive of me to re-publish my Indian Top 20 at this juncture, so I'll just mention that Kylie's "Tears On My Pilau" is straight in at number 9, just behind Lisa Stansfield's "Bhuna Round The World But I Can't Find My Bhaji" but Dire Straits are still holding onto number one with "Brothers In Naans".

Tuesday Morning Thoughts

The overnights are lower, giving up some of last night's gains, influenced by the USDA crop progress report which showed a 3 point improvement in good/excellent for beans, and a 2 point improvement for corn.

The soybean crop is now rated 69% good/excellent, it's best ratings of the season so far, with corn now rated even better at 70% in the top two categories.

Perhaps of even more interest is physical crop development. Soybeans appear to have largely caught up, if the USDA are to be believed, with 97% blooming, the same as last year and only 2 points behind the five year average. Pod setting is at 85%, just 1 point behind last year and 7 points behind the five year average.

Corn is still lagging at 57% at the dough stage, compared to 66% a year ago and 79% for the five year average. Corn denting is at 18%, compared to 25% dented a year ago, and 43% normally at this time of year.

The spring wheat harvest is also lagging. The six main spring wheat states are at 22% harvested compared to last year at 58% and the five year average of 66%.

Stocks in the Far East were lower overnight, which spilled over into European trade this morning. Crude oil is down around half a dollar. Crude stocks data are out later today from the American Petroleum Institute and tomorrow from the US Energy Dept. Last week both surprised with a heft drop in inventories.

The Indian government still haven't released any of their state-owned wheat stocks onto the domestic market, despite spiralling food prices, a situation that poses more questions than answers.

Let's have a quick shuftie at the figures being bandied about:

The 2009 harvest (brought in Mar/Apr) was around 77-80 MMT depending on whose figures we run with, of that the government bought around 25-26 MMT, leaving 52-55 MMT in private hands. The government's purchases added to existing old crop reserves of around 7 MMT, giving them total buffer stocks of 32-33 MMT.

"There is hardly any wheat stock left with the private trade in the open market," said the president of an Indian Flour Millers Association last week, as he urged the government to release some of their stocks.

First question: where's the 52-55 MMT all gone, given that India 'only' consumes around 6.5 MMT/month? Crossed the border in unlicensed exports?

Second question: is the 32-33 MMT really there, what condition is it in, given that much of it was stored in the open due to lack of space in government licenced silos at harvest time?

Third question: if private stocks have 'disappeared' how long will the government stocks last, especially with a rice acreage 20% down due to lack of monsoon rains?

China is in the middle of a drought of it's own, and may well continue to import US soybeans at a faster rate than the trade is currently anticipating. There is also talk of beans becoming so uncompetitively priced in Brazil that they may import US material themselves. Certainly the Chinese will be putting all their business the way of the US if that's the case.

China sold just under 200,000 MT of corn in it's weekly auction. The soybean auction is tomorrow. They don't seem to be looking to sell-off any wheat despite miraculously bringing in a bumper 2009 crop of supposedly 115 MMT, after the worst drought in 50 years. Funny that.

The pound is down to $1.6350 against the dollar and around 1.1450 against the euro, it's lowest in 2 1/2 months. At least it had the decency to wait for me to get back from the Costa! The surprise raising of QE at the beginning of the month, and last week's BoE's minutes revealing that three members of the MPC wanted an even bigger increase is proving difficult to shake off.

USDA Crop Progress Report


The USDA weekly crop progress report issued after the close listed 57% of the corn in the dough stage. This compares to 66% a year ago and 79% for the five year average. Corn denting is at 18%, compared to 25% dented a year ago, and 43% normally at this time of year. Crop ratings listed corn at 9% poor/very poor and 70% good/excellent, a 2 point improvement from last week.


The USDA weekly crop progress report has soybeans at 97% blooming, the same as last year and 2 points behind the five year average. Pod setting is at 85%, 1 point behind last year and 7 points behind the five year average. Condition ratings are 8% poor/very poor, a 1 point improvement and 69% good/excellent, a 3 point improvement.


Harvesting for winter wheat is just about complete. Indiana and Montana are still significantly behind the five year average and Montana is behind last year and the five year average. Spring wheat harvest is also lagging. The six main spring wheat states are at 22% harvested compared to last year at 58% and the five year average of 66%. Spring wheat condition ratings are 6% poor/very poor, a one point improvement and 72% good/excellent, a 2 point deterioration from last week.

CBOT Closing Comments


September beans closed at $10.80, up 57 cents, with November at $10.07 ½, up 34 ½ cents. A generally more optimistic tone, fed by Ben Bernanke's comments late Friday helped the entire complex today. There is also a growing realisation that South America are out of the market, Celeres say that 90% of the Brazilian crop is already sold, and as we all know Argentina had a disaster. Although US weather conditions are non-threatening at the moment, an early frost on a late planted, slowly developing crop is a real concern. As of August 13th, outstanding sales to China for the 2008/09 marketing year were at 1,517,000 MT, and the marketing year ends in 10 days.


September corn closed at $3.29 ½, up 7 ¾ cents, with December at $3.35 ½, up 9 ¼ cents. Rain amounts of an inch to two inches are forecast for Kansas, southern Nebraska and Iowa and northern Missouri over the next five days. Rain amounts return to normal for those areas after August 29th. Record yield potential exists for corn if frost stays away. Sharply higher beans lent some spillover support. Spec funds added 13,941 contracts to their short positions last week, according to CFTC data.


September wheat closed at $4.71 ¾, up 11 ½ cents. winter wheat is nearly complete. Indiana and Montana are still significantly behind the five year average and Montana is behind last year and the five year average. Spring wheat harvest is also lagging. Spec funds were short 57,636 contracts as of Aug. 18, up from 54,196 contracts a week earlier, according to CFTC data released Friday. Those funds bought in an estimated 4,000 of those short contracts today.

EU Wheat Futures Push Higher

EU wheat futures closed higher Monday, with London posting it's biggest one day gain since June 1st, coincidentally the recent market high when November London feed wheat closed at £134.50/tonne.

How things have changed since then. November London feed wheat closed up GBP1.75 at GBP98.00/tonne and November Paris milling wheat futures finished up EUR2.25 at EUR129.00/tonne.

A firmer dollar, stronger crude oil and equities and spillover strength from US grains helped wheat rebound a little from recent steep declines.

Some traders warned that the overall trend is still sharply lower, and that today's price action was merely a temporary correction.

Some crop concerns are emerging from Australia, China and India however for traders to at least be content to book a few profits even if global demand isn't that great at the moment.

Farmers remain reluctant sellers of what has almost certainly been the most expensive crop to produce of all time.

In the UK wheat harvesting should now be well over 50% complete, and although the weather has been far from ideal, it is at least considerably better than 2008. This also means that quality is up, and there is a significantly higher percentage of wheat of milling grade around this year.

eCBOT Close, Early Call

The overnights close sharply higher on beans which ended around 17-20 cents higher, with corn and wheat up 1-2 cents.

There's a little mini wave of optimism carried over from Friday's Ben Bernanke comments that the recession is bottoming around the world. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales seem to agree with him, saying that confidence is the best it's been for two years.

Crude oil is up a bit, and stock markets around the world are firmer, adding a bit of outside support.

There are worries over drought damage to crops in China, Australia has just had a record-breaking August weekend with temperatures into the top 30's (so at least they've got something to smile about!) and the Indian monsoon season rainfall amounts continue to disappoint.

Some reports suggest that Brazilian crushers may end up buying US beans before long due to the hectic pace of exports in the first half of the year.

Soaring sugar prices might have an impact on corn demand from a sweetener viewpoint.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: beans up 15-20; wheat and corn 1-2 higher.

Soybeans: Are The US The Only Shop In Town?

Now here's an interesting thought, reports are reaching Nogger Towers than Brazilian soybean supplies on the open market have all but ran out.

Certainly export pace out of Brazil has been phenomenal with exporters keen to cash in on a combination of high Chicago prices, strong Chinese demand, the large-scale crop failure in Argentina and the big inverses that we've been seeing between front-end and deferred month contracts.

The rate of exports has been pushing up domestic premiums to such an extent that Brazilian crushers may soon be looking to import US beans themselves, according to some reports I am hearing.

It's happened before, and would explain why China (who reportedly bought 896,000 MT of US beans last week) keep coming back for more, all the other shops are shut!

Black Earth Farming Profits Plunge

Black Earth Farming, hit by plummeting grain prices, have reported a half year loss (for the period 1 January to 30 June 2009) before income tax from continuing operations of 320 million roubles (USD 10.3 million) compared to a profit of RUR 268 million roubles (USD 8.6 million) in the same period last year.

Despite revenue rising 82% to 1.3 billion roubles (USD 41.6 million), the average price received from sales of crops in the first six months of 2009 was 44% lower than same period last year, the company report.

The company, who say that they are one of the world's largest farming companies by planted area, is publicly listed in Stockholm farm 323,000 hectares primarily in the fertile Black Earth region in southwest Russia in the Kursk, Tambov, Lipetsk, Samara, Voronezh and Ryazan areas.

The General Manager of the Company's Russian operational entity - Agro-Invest, resigned on August 4th.

Australian Wheat Starting To Hurt

The promised El Nino event which seems to have already kicked up a fuss in India, where monsoon rains are down 26% so far this season, now also appears to be hurting wheat Down Under.

Extreme heat over the weekend saw many parts of Queensland, New South Wales, the Northern Territory and South Australia set record August temperatures on Saturday, only to break them a day later on Sunday.

Cunnamulla, in the Maranoa, recorded 37 degrees on Sunday. That is a huge 16 above average and their hottest August day in 102 years of records. Bedourie, in the Channel Country, saw another 38 degrees, their third consecutive day above 36 degrees.

Late August would be equivalent to late May in the Northern Hemisphere, when wheat enters key developmental stages that demand heavy rainfall for the top yields, says Gail Martell of Martell Crop Projections.

Australia Needs Rain Urgently to Meet Crop Forecast

Monday Morning Musings, Fish And Alistair Darling's Pubes

The overnight eCBOT is sharply higher on beans, and modestly so on wheat and corn.

There is some talk this morning of drought adversely affecting corn and soybean production in northern China, with around 21 million acres of arable land said to be under threat.

What's that drought in China and India? Simultaneously you say? Both countries are sure going to need their much-touted grain reserves if that one comes home to roost. Let's hope that they really do exist.

China imported 85,000 MT of wheat in July, according to customs data. That's a sharp increase on just 373 MT imported in July 2008, and in Aug/Nov 2008 they didn't import any wheat at all.

The Indian government continue to delay releasing the promised 3 MMT of wheat from it's buffer stocks onto the domestic market, despite millers appeals and Ramadan boosting demand.

Can you smell fish?

Extreme hot and dry conditions are also seen adversely affecting corn output in Ukraine and Russia.

Incidentally, China also imported 4.39 MMT of soybeans last month, a 25% increase on a year ago and 133,000 MT of sugar, a fivefold increase compared to 22,000 MT in July 2008.

The UK recession is over, the Times triumphantly informs us today! Apparently the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (or TOSSERS for short) say that all our problems are behind us. Hurrah! Link

I can just imagine the smug "I told you I knew what I was doing" look on Alistair Darling's face right now. Never trust a man who's hair and eyebrows don't match, that's what my Mum always told me. Have you ever wondered what colour his pubes are? I've got my money on ginger.

Ramadan, No Lamb, I Lament, Ding Dong

Ramadan kicked off on Saturday, which as you will know requires all Muslims who are able, to fast from sunrise to sunset.

The fasting part isn't going to be a problem in India, where food prices have shot up due to the poor monsoon rains.

It's the celebratory "iftar", the fast-breaking meal eaten at sunset, that is the problem for Indian Muslims this year.

Many are furious with the government for failing to halt the rapidly rising food prices, meaning that they can't afford to buy the ingredients for traditional fast-breaking meals.

In Southern states such as Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, Muslims break their fast with nonbu kanji, a rich, filling rice dish of porridge consistency, cooked for hours with lamb and vegetables.

One woman told Reuters that her family can only afford to break the fast with a handful of dates, and that they are too embarrassed to tell their friends and neighbours that they can't afford a feast.

India's summer-sown rice area is now seen down more than 20% this year to 22.8 million acres, and the country's main reservoirs are at just 38% of capacity.

The government are still curiously dragging their heels on releasing wheat and rice from state-owned stocks to ease the situation in the worlds second most populous country.

Twenty Dollar Beans?

Bloomberg are carrying an interesting story this morning in which an analyst with Standard Chartered says that soybeans could yet rise to an all-time high of $20/bushel.

Confusingly he says that he is "a little bit more bullish than bearish".

I think that if I thought beans could hit $20 I'd describe myself as more than "a little bit" bullish. He doesn't mention a specific time frame in which this event might happen either.

Once the harvest kicks-off in the US surely there's nothing more to be bullish about with South America set to plant wall to wall beans for spring 2010?

He does make an interesting point about corn demand though, with sugar at 28-year highs in the US and all-time dollar highs in London, demand for corn syrup sweetener (and hence corn) should be very robust.

Bloomberg story