A Quick Look Around The Markets

The USDA last night pegged 73% of US corn as good/excellent, and increase of 2 points from last week. Soybeans fell one point in the top two categories to 65% G/E. Spring wheat G/E was steady at 83%, and winter wheat was 63% harvested, up from 54% last week.

The ongoing drought in Russia means that harvesting is well advanced there, with 9.6 MMT of grains already cut. Of that total 6.2 MMT is wheat and 1.6 MMT barley.

Things might be looking up in Australia, where beneficial rains fell in WA state late last week. State capital Perth picked up 93mm in four days Thursday to Sunday, it's best four day total in five years.

Meanwhile a La Nina weather pattern forming in the Pacific Basin could continue to bring rains to the east of Australia, potentially boosting grains output in NSW and Victoria, say the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

La Nina conditions frequently occur within twelve months of an El Nino episode, and are usually associated with good rains in the east of the country.

The flip side is that whilst last year's El Nino proved to be a rain-giver to South America, leading to record soybean production and breaking a near two year drought for the dirty cheating Argies (and the goaline handballing and blind refereeing Uruguayans), the nicer sounding La Nina frequently means eastern Australia gets all the rain meant for South America.

Hot and dry weather above 30 degrees Celsius will continue to prevail in central European Russia, meteorologists say. Lack of forage is becoming a serious issue, and cereal growers in the region also now say that they are worried over their ability to repay loans taken in the spring in anticipation of another bumper harvest.

Whilst the damage already appears to be done to Russian and Kazakh wheat, corn and sunflowers might be next to see potential yields plunge as the enter the key pollination stage, farmers fear.

Russian daily newspaper Izvestia said that the situation was causing "panic" in regional newspapers where, I love this quote, "you will feel the breath of medieval horror in pages turned yellow from the heat."

Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik has been forced to deny wild rumours that the country may even have to import grain this season. She re-affirmed that they have 24 MMT of reserves (with her fingers crossed behind her back), although she did concede that export hopes might need to be trimmed somewhat.

Not too far away it's rain that's the problem, not lack of it. In Crimea in the Ukraine the local Ag Ministry say that up to 30% of the barley crop could be lost as heavy rains lash the region.