CBOT Closing Comments


May Soybeans closed at USD9.42, up 1 cent; Nov Soybeans at USD9.25 ¾, up 7 ¾ cents; May Soybean Meal at USD365.90, up USD0.10/ton; May Soybean Oil at USD38.98, up 67 points. It was a quiet end to a hectic week, with many participants glad of a long weekend. Export sales of 178,500 MT for delivery in 2009/10 plus sales of 210,000 MT for delivery in 2010/11 were in line with expectations of 350,000 – 550,000 MT. China (66,500 MT) took some of the old crop and 221,000 MT of the new crop. Actual shipments of 1,033,700 MT were robust with China taking 407,000 MT.


May Corn futures finished at USD3.44 ½, down ½ cent; December Corn futures closed at USD3.77, up ¾ cent. Net export sales of 826,100 MT for delivery in 2009/10 plus a further 400 MT for delivery in 2010/11 meant that total sales were above forecasts of 600,000 – 750,000 MT. Shipments fo of 1,214,600 MT were also pretty respectable. "The Argentina Ministry of Agriculture raised its estimate of corn production to 22 MMT, up from 21.5 MMT earlier, based on favourable yield results in the harvest. So far, 42% of the crop has been gathered. The El Nino effect is typically a yield builder for Argentina corn because of the wet signal it produces," says Gail Martell of Martell Crop Projections.


May CBOT Wheat closed at USD4.54 ¾, up 4 ¼ cents; May KCBT Wheat at USD4.70, up 8 ¼ cents; May MGEX Wheat at USD4.89, up 7 cents. Net export sales of 430,600 MT for delivery in 2009/10 plus sales of 53,000 MT for delivery in 2010/11 just beat forecasts for sales of 300,000 – 450,000 MT. Actual shipments of 693,000 MT were a marketing-year high. In addition to that the USDA separately reported a one-off sale of 140,000 MT of 2010/11 wheat to Nigeria today. Despite the fact that the US continue to miss out on sales to some traditionally "normal" locations, they are on track to meet, if not exceed, current USDA projections for the 2009/10 marketing year.

EU Wheat Ends Little Changed

It was a quiet end to a shortened trading week Thursday with May London feed wheat closing unchanged at GBP96.75/tonne, and May Paris milling wheat EUR0.25 higher at EUR125.50/tonne.

Given the disappointing numbers from the USDA yesterday, and a very weak close last night, EU futures held up surprisingly well.

This is maybe due to the recent realisation that EU wheat doesn't necessarily need to follow Chicago's lead, EU wheat is amongst the cheapest around at the moment.

Egypt bought 60,000 MT of Russian wheat in a tender today, but the trade seems almost relaxed to sit back and let the Russians pick up the orders if they want them.

Some talk suggests that EU wheat stocks maybe aren't quite as burdensome as the market rhetoric keeps making out. Others report that supplies out of the likes of Ukraine have all but dried up.

That said, the market appears to be in a state of equilibrium at the moment. After a hard winter, EU wheat seems to have suddenly made rapid progress this past few weeks. The second highest crop on record looks likely for 2010, which can hardly be viewed as overly bullish.

Crude oil made an 18 month high in excess of USD85/barrel today despite bearish stocks data coming out of the US yesterday. It's not too difficult to make a case out for crude continuing to rise throughout the remainder of 2010, which may support the grains sector in the long run.

USDA Export Sales

The USDA report the following export sales in their weekly report:


Net sales of 430,600 MT for delivery in 2009/10 plus sales of 53,000 MT for delivery in 2010/11 just beat forecasts for sales of 300,000 – 450,000 MT. Actual shipments of 693,000 MT were a marketing-year high. In addition to that the USDA separately reported a one-off sale of 140,000 MT of 2010/11 wheat to Nigeria today.


Net sales of 178,500 MT for delivery in 2009/10 plus sales of 210,000 MT for delivery in 2010/11 were in line with expectations of 350,000 – 550,000 MT. China (66,500 MT) took some of the old crop and 221,000 MT of the new crop. Actual shipments of 1,033,700 MT were robust with China taking 407,000 MT.


Net sales of 826,100 MT for delivery in 2009/10 plus a further 400 MT for delivery in 2010/11 meant that total sales were above forecasts of 600,000 – 750,000 MT. Shipments fo of 1,214,600 MT were also pretty respectable.

Crude Oil Sets Fresh 2010 High - Déjà Vu Around The Corner?

Crude oil prices rose quietly to a fresh high for 2010 today, peaking at USD84.62/barrel in mid morning trade. That's it's best levels in eighteen months.

A suddenly weaker dollar and strong demand from China seems to be what many of the newswires are citing as the reason for today's rise. US non-farm payrolls data for March is due out on Friday, despite the holiday. Ideas are that payrolls will have risen for only the second time since the global recession began. That might boost confidence that the worst is over and US demand for crude will now start to increase.

Nevertheless, it's a pretty impressive performance from crude, in the wake of yesterdays bearish stocks data from the US Energy Dept. US crude stocks rose by almost 3 million barrels, making a 10 million barrel increase in the last fortnight alone. Gasoline inventories also rose when a 2 million barrel drop had been forecast, yet still prices go up.

"Markets that rise on bearish news are impressive enough, but markets that rise on overtly bearish news are truly impressive. This is one such market," said the highly regarded Dennis Gartman earlier this week.

How right he is. What will the market do when we get some overtly bullish news like an escalation of tensions in the Middle East? Or more terrorist attacks on pipelines in Nigeria?

I suspect that there might be some fund money flowing stealthily back into the crude oil market again. And we all know what trouble jumping on that particular bandwagon caused last time.

Is crude set to be the BIG story of 2010? I wouldn't be at all surprised.

Wheat Urgently Wanted - Top Prices Paid

Anything will do. We'll pay GBP160/tonne (USD245/tonne) for as much as you can throw at us. Don't worry about the quality, it's only going to get left out in the rain to rot anyway. We've only got one machine for testing bushel weight and that's broken so just send in anything you like. All welcome.

Lots of love,

The Indian Government

It's the dream scam of the century. Those lovable bent as a nine bob note halfwits the Indian government have fixed the price that they will pay Indian farmers for their wheat this season at a very generous Rs11,000/tonne. It's all in the name of supporting the rural economy apparently. Well at that price it would be impolite to say no wouldn't it? Support away boys, and here's the best bit there's no strict rules on quality or any of that nonsense, they'll take anything!

They'll be unwittingly supporting the rural economy in neighbouring Pakistan and beyond as well at those prices I'd have thought too. I wonder if they'd like to buy any of that black smelly stuff left over from last year that they've already paid once for as well? Well put me down for a slice of that action, where do I apply? What I've got to ring your call centre in Milton Keynes, bugger, I won't be able to understand a word they're saying.

Strike Over, Problem Sorted, Right?

Well those naughty militant Argy dock workers didn't quite get everything they asked for. They had to compromise a bit on their outrageous 100% pay increase demands and settle for a reportedly "more modest" 27% rise instead.

So that's the end of that then, eh? You'd certainly think so judging by Chicago's reaction to the news last night with front month beans down 33 cents and meal shedding USD17.30.

Of course that isn't going to do diddly squat to get any Argy beans or meal to Europe any quicker until the very end of April at the earliest. Acute congestion problems, accentuated by the record crops there, will keep loading delays to at least two to three weeks - and quite possibly more then that as the season wears on.

The fashion for chartering boats to load in both Argentina and then Brazil before sailing for Europe is hardly going to hurry things along either.

Oh, and there's another problem, suppose you were a docker in other parts of Argentina (of Brazil), and your compatriots in Rosario have just had a 27% increase for the sake of a ten day strike. I think that you might fancy a piece of that action as well, might you not?

And I guess that the truckers could do with some extra folding stuff too? Then there's the mood amongst the pot banging, tyre burning farmers to consider - losing 35% to the government in export tax on every soybean exported.

It's not over 'til the fat lady sails. Talking of Mrs N#1, oooh no missus don't, nay nay and thrice nay it's not her fault she's big boned. I wouldn't exactly say she was fat, but she did have her own postcode. She used to wear two watches you know, one for each time zone she was in.

CBOT Closing Comments


May Soybeans finally closed at USD9.41, down 33 cents; May Soybean Meal at USD265.80, down USD17.30/ton; May Soybean Oil at USD38.31, down 36 points. Planting Intentions reported by the USDA came to 78.098 million acres, up 2 million acres from last year. March 1st stocks were higher than anticipated at .27 billion bushels. Other bearish news came from suggestions that the recnt Argentine dock workers strike was resolved.


May Corn futures are at USD3.45, down 9 ½ cents; December Corn futures at USD3.76 ¼, down 7 ½ cents. Corn futures posted new annual lows on an increase in grain stocks to 7.7 billion bushels as of March 1st, up 11% from last year. Planting intentions for 2010 at 88.798 million acres are also up significantly from last year's 86 million acres. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange pegged the Argy corn crop at 21 MMT, up 800,000 MT from their last forecast and an increase of 6 MMT on last year.


May CBOT Wheat closed at USD4.50 ½, down 21 ½ cents; May KCBT Wheat at USD4.61 ¾, down 17 ¾ cents; May MGEX Wheat was at USD4.82, down 18 cents. Even though the USDA's wheat numbers weren't really that bearish, the trade is focusing on March 1st stocks up 30% on a year ago at 1.352 billion bushels. All wheat plantings were down, although not by quite as much as forecast. Heavy losses in soybeans also helped to drag CBOT wheat lower.

EU Wheat Closing Comments

EU wheat futures closed lower with May London feed wheat down GBP1.15 at GBP96.75/tonne, and May Paris milling wheat EUR1.75 easier at EUR125.75/tonne.

The long awaited USDA numbers came in a little bearish, but maybe didn't really warrant the downwards slide that we ultimately saw in CBOT wheat futures,

March 1st ending stocks were 30% up on last year, but they were expected to be so, all wheat plantings were forecast 500,000 acres up on what was expected, but that wasn't too bad really.

If anything wheat was dragged lower by increases in soybean and corn plantings, and higher March 1st stocks figures than anticipated.

A weaker dollar didn't help the cause too much today, but ultimately that shouldn't really make too much difference as US wheat is overpriced anyway.

Talk that Black Sea exporters are caught between a rock and a hard place abound. Rumour is that short sellers are suddenly finding it difficult to fulfil existing contractual obligations and some are defaulting on cheap sales.

Ukraine have been very aggressive sellers all through the season to date, and logic dictates that they must have very little physical wheat left available.

Crude Stocks Rise By More Than Expected

US crude oil stocks rose by more than the 2.65 million barrels analysts expected, up by 2.9 million, according to data just out from the US Energy Dept.

Gasoline stocks rose by 300,000 barrels, contrary to expectations of a 2 million barrel decrease. Distillates stocks declined by 1.1 million barrels, in line with analysts forecasts.

Despite the seemingly bearish news crude oil futures reacted with disdain, currently 98 cents higher on the day at USD83.35/barrel.

Crude Oil Close To 2010 Highs

Despite a perceived overall slightly bearish tone to today's USDA stocks and planting intentions report, the grains sector might derive some support from outside markets this afternoon.

Crude oil is currently close to it's 2010 high of USD83.95/barrel, with front month May having traded as high as USD83.76/barrel today.

Today's rise came after US employment data showed an unexpected drop in private sector jobs, raising hopes of a demand boost.

All eyes this afternoon will now be on stocks data from the US Energy Dept. Although they are expected to show a rise in crude inventories of around 2.5 million barrels, gasoline supplies are likely to have fallen by around 2 million barrels, with distillates stocks also seen declining.

The American Petroleum Institute yesterday said that crude inventories rose by 421,000 barrels last week. A similar smaller than expected rise from the DOE could see crude prices test the January highs.

Report Reaction/Early Call

The eagerly awaited USDA report failed to throw anything at us that wasn't largely already expected by the trade (for once).

Both corn and soybean acreage came in a bit below the average trade guess, with all wheat around half a million above the mean estimate.

The bottom line is beans area is seen increasing by 600,000 acres, or just 0.7%, to 78.1 million. Corn acres are seen up 2.3 million to 88.8 million, an increase of 2.7%. All wheat plantings are seen down by 5.27 million acres to 53.83 million, a fall of around 9% on last season.

Spring wheat plantings are seen rising by 4.6%, partially offsetting a decline in winter sowings of 12.9%.

Cotton area is seen up around 15%, with rice plantings up about 9%.

Overall though, the figures show a reduction in planted area of around 1.5 million acres on last season. That seems pretty questionable. I'd expect final corn and soybean area to maybe increase from these figures.

On the stocks front corn and soybeans came in higher than expected and wheat lower.

The bean number was a tad surprising at 1.270 billion bushels, that was right at the top end of the range of analysts estimates, despite the strong pace of US exports so far this season.

The corn stocks estimate was also close to the top end of the range of trade guesses. Although the wheat stocks number was a little below the average trade guess, at 1.352 billion bushels it is still fully 30% up on a year ago.

Elsewhere in the market the dockers strike in Argentina appears to be ongoing. Japan reportedly bought Indian soymeal in preference to cheaper Argy material overnight.

South Korea has bought 281,000 MT of US corn for 2009/10 delivery.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: beans called down 10-15 cents; corn called down 4-6 cents; wheat called down 1-3 cents.

USDA: The Magic Numbers

Here they are folks, the all important scores on the doors from today's USDA reports:

Stocks USDA Avg Guess Range Mar 1 2009
Beans 1.270 1.207 1.160-1.270 1.302
Corn 7.695 7.505 7.318-7.758 6.954
Wheat 1.352 1.364 1.332-1.398 1.040
Area (Mln Acres) 2009 Area
Beans 78.10 78.55 77.43-79.50 77.50
Corn 88.80 88.94 87.00-90.15 86.50
All Wheat 53.83 53.33 51.90-54.90 59.10
Winter Wheat 37.70 37.32 37.10-37.90 43.30
Spring Wheat 13.91 13.56 12.80-14.00 13.30
Durum 2.22 2.47 2.30-2.60 2.60

USDA Report Predictions

The USDA are out at 13.30 London time this afternoon with their March 31st planting intentions and quarterly stocks data. Here's a list of what the trade is expecting:

Stocks Avg Guess Range Mar 1 2009
Beans 1.207 1.160-1.270 1.302
Corn 7.505 7.318-7.758 6.954
Wheat 1.364 1.332-1.398 1.040
Area (Mill Acres) 2009 Area
Beans 78.55 77.43-79.50 77.50
Corn 88.94 87.00-90.15 86.50
All Wheat 53.33 51.90-54.90 59.10
Winter Wheat 37.32 37.10-37.90 43.30
Spring Wheat 13.56 12.80-14.00 13.30
Durum 2.47 2.30-2.60 2.60

This report frequently throws up a surprise, last year soybean acreage came in more than 3 million below the average trade estimate.

It is worth noting that last season's report proved to ultimately be pretty accurate, and a lot closer than many estimates from the prominent private firms.

Whilst wheat is generally the least likely crop to spring a surprise in this report, as most of it is already planted anyway, I think that there may be some potential for a slightly bullish scenario this year.

Spring wheat acres are seen a little bit higher than twelve months ago at 13.56 million acres, partially compensating for some enforced winter wheat reductions in soggy states like Illinois.

With wheat hitting contract lows recently, and US material still uncompetitive in the global marketplace, it seems like there is potential for US wheat prices to work lower still. That may prompt some US growers to rethink their strategies this year.

With new crop soybeans still pushing USD10/bushel I think that we might see plenty of farmers decide to side with them, despite record production from South America. Continued buying from China and the likely reintroduction of the tax break on biodiesel should underpin US demand in the year ahead.

Despite the early season weather problems in 2009 (similar to this year), the ultimately great yields achieved for beans and corn should also encourage increased plantings of both. Corn growers will be optimistic that demand from the ethanol sector will remain robust, especially if the EPA increase the maximum inclusion rate in gasoline - as many expect - later in the year.

Certainly those are some of the thoughts that would be gowing through my mind if I were a US farmer right now.

I'd estimate corn and soybean area to come in towards the top end of analysts' estimates with wheat at the lower end. Beans 79 million, corn 90 million and wheat 52.5 million.

CBOT Closing Comments


May beans finished at USD9.74, 6 ½ cents higher. It was a book squaring sort of a day ahead of tomorrow's USDA report. Analyst's average estimates for soybean plantings are 78.5 million acres, around a million up on last year. March 1st stocks are seen at around 1.2 billion bushels. The dock workers strike in Argentina remains unresolved, although some reports suggest that a deal could be imminent, others imply that things are further away from a solution than they were last week. Celeres say that the Brazilian harvest is now 66% complete.


May corn futures closed at USD3.54 ½, down 2 ½ cents. Analysts project corn plantings at 88.941 million acres in tomorrow's USDA report. We have a fairly wide range of guesses from 87.00-90.15 million, so somebody is likely to be miles out. March 1st stocks are seen at just over 7.5 billion bushels. Latest US weather forecasts suggest warmer and drier conditions throughout much of the Midwest. This might provide a short-term window of opportunity for planting corn, although the longer term forecasts are wetter and colder than normal.


May CBOT wheat closed at USD4.72, 7 ¼ cents higher. US spring wheat acres are expected to increase slightly from a year ago in tomorrow's USDA report to 13.56 million acres. Weather conditions across the heart of the main winter wheat producing states on the Great Plains have been largely ideal of late. Monday's USDA crop condition report showed that Kansas wheat was rated 70% good-excellent, 25% fair and 5% poor. "That was the 4th consecutive week of improvement, and highest rating since last fall," says Gail Martell of Martell Crop Projections. "Oklahoma wheat was also very impressive, at 69% good-excellent, 27% fair and 4% poor-very poor. Meanwhile the Texas crop at 60% good-excellent, 32% fair and 8% poor was a season best," she adds.

EU Wheat Closing Comments

EU wheat closed mixed, with London lower and Paris flat to slightly higher. London May feed wheat closed down GBP0.60 at GBP97.90/tonne, and May Paris milling wheat ended unchanged at EUR127.00/tonne.

The pound was relatively strong for once, which pressured UK wheat lower compared with Paris material.

As might have been anticipated it was a pretty subdued day ahead of tomorrows USDA plantings and stocks reports. For wheat, nobody can quite make their mind up whether US farmers will plant more or less spring wheat this year, although the average trade guess is for a little bit more (13.56 million against 13.3 million last year).

The undeniable fact that US wheat is overpriced, relative to EU and Black Sea grain, might encourage a few more to consider corn, soybeans or cotton than the market generally expects in my opinion.

Corn plantings are seen significantly higher already (circa 2.5 million acres), with soybean sowings also likely to see a more modest increase (around 1 million acres) as far as the trade is concerned.

This report frequently throws up a major surprise, so hold onto your hats as tomorrow afternoon and Thursday could be volatile, especially ahead of the long weekend.

Ukraine Rapeseed Latest

Winter rapeseed crops in Ukraine have suffered pretty badly at the hands of the harsh weather this season, according to the Ag Ministry.

They say that 13.2% of the crop has been killed off completely, with an additional 27% in weak/thinned condition. An estimated 18.3% of the winter crop will be resown with spring seed, they say.

An estimated 8% of winter grains still remain under ice, despite temperatures having warmed significantly in the past week, they add.

CBOT Closing Comments


May Soybeans closed at USD9.67 ½, up 15 ½ cents; May Soybean Meal at USD276.90, up USD6.00/ton; May Soybean Oil at USD39.27, up 32 points. Crude oil was sharply higher and the US dollar weaker. The dock workers strike in Argentina, which was widely expected to dissapate this week, seem to be in fact escalating. Some reports suggest that shippers there are now looking at claiming force majeure.


May Corn futures closed at USD3.57, up ¾ cent; December Corn futures at USD3.86 ½, up 1 cent. Corn futures managed to close on the plus side for the day but were limited by the expectation for increased corn acres on this week's USDA report, although traders estimates vary quite widely Estimates for the quarterly stocks report are also diverse.


May CBOT Wheat closed at USD4.64 ¾, unchanged; May KCBT Wheat was at USD4.73 ½, up 2 cents; May MGEX Wheat at USD4.96 ¼, down ¾ cents. The quarterly grain stocks and prospective plantings intentions report is due to be released Wednesday. Spring wheat acreage for 2010/11 is forecast at 13.558 million acres up from the 2009/10 crop year, which was 13.3 million acres.

EU Wheat Closing Comments

EU wheat futures closed higher with May Paris milling wheat ending up EUR1.25 at EUR127.00/tonne, and London May feed wheat finishing GBP1.10 higher at GBP98.50/tonne.

There appears to have been a subtle change of mood this past few sessions.

Coceral's numbers released Friday were perhaps a tad lower than the trade had been expecting. A leading Polish producing group today pegged grain production there 6% down and wheat output 5% down in 2010.

Suddenly buyers seem a little keener to "get on" and sellers a tad more relaxed. Consumers are probably pretty lightly covered May onwards, and might just be getting ever so slightly nervous as suddenly the EU seem to be the cheapest sellers on the global marketplace.

Lets not get too carried away here, a rally will present a selling opportunity, it's simply a case of how far do you let it go.

We are possibly in for a volatile week with the USDA out on Wednesday to report on wheat acreage in the US. Whilst winter wheat is already in the ground, opinion is divided over spring wheat acres. The average trade guess is that 13.56 million acres of spring wheat will get planted this year, up slightly from 13.3 million in 2009.

There are plenty however that think that spring wheat area will also be down as well as winter wheat plantings. The March report regularly throws up a surprise or two so trade carefully.

Virgin On The Ridiculous

Oy, you Richard Branson, what's your game? You might be a multi millionaire, but I've got loads more O levels than you. What are your two in again? Metal work and ballooning was it? Not PR that's for sure, the state of Virgin Media. What a shower they are.

We've had a "why don't you upgrade to get everything" letter through the post recently, so stupidly we decided to go for it. Pause live football, record six million programmes whilst you go to the pub. Stop the Derby half way through then nip to the bookies to put a bet on, that sort of thing.

So we think, yeah lets go for it, couch potatoes that we are.

So the man from Virgin comes and installs it this afternoon, leaving around 3 o'clock. But by 6 o'clock all our channels have been cut off (plus our broadband). Why?? We've "gone over our limit" apparently. What limit, have we missed a payment? No, the installation fee appears to have kicked in a nanosecond after the Virgin Media guy left the house, triggering some "auto over the limit cut off" that we didn't even know existed.

Well, it seems that although they can cut you off without warning at the flick of a switch, getting you back up and running is a bit more complicated than that. What a surprise.

"No you haven't missed a payment, yes we can see that you have an exemplary record, it will all be back on within 24 hours, thanks for calling Virgin Media. Is there anything else I can help you with?"

Erm, well yes there is actually, I want Richard Branson's gonads nailed to a coffee table in front of me in the next ten minutes, can you do that Miss Mumbai??

Well cheers Ricardo, you balloon travelling, two O levelled, business failure freak. It's good job we don't all treat our customers like that or we'd all be a bearded sky travelling hobo like you wouldn't we?

CBOT Early Call

The overnight grains closed higher, aided by a softer dollar to start the week. Beans finished with gains of around 6-7 cents, with wheat up 3-4 cents and corn around a cent firmer.

US weather is seen warming and drying up significantly this week, with 5-7 days of opportunity for fieldwork in the western Corn Belt, and 10-12 days across Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, according to QT Weather.

High temperatures are forecast into the mid-70's in many locations, with mid to low 80's centrally and further south by Thursday.

Contrary to some reports of the dock strike in Argentina being a short-lived affair, Reuters are reporting an escalation of blockades extending from San Martin to Timbues port here.

It seems that this could continue to support front-end soybeans, where US stocks are already tight.

The USDA are out Wednesday with their spring planting intentions report, and also quarterly stocks data.

Some reports suggest that soybean production in Brazil might be a little overstated at 67-68 MMT, and that final yields are coming in slightly disappointing.

India's wheat crop looks set to come in below the government's 82 MMT estimate as heat and lack of adequate rainfall hasten crops to maturity, reducing yields. Whether they truthfully tell us how much has been lopped of final production is questionable. It would make particularly bad publicity in light of recent revelations of last season's crop being left to rot in the open.

Black Sea exporters seem to either be running a bit short after months of aggressive marketing, or else shying away from US wheat prices hitting contract lows Friday.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn called flat to 2 higher; soybeans called 6 to 8 higher; wheat called 2 to 4 higher.

Brazilian Soybean Crop 'Not As Good As Advertised'

I read with interest today on the excellent Brownfield Ag Network website that Bob Streit, a crop consultant with Central Iowa Agronomics returning from a recent visit to Brazil, says that crops there "look good — but perhaps not quite as good as advertised."

Wet weather seems to have delayed plantings and led to increased rust incidences, taking the top off yields a bit. Read the full story of what he has to say here.

That ties in with what private Brazilian consultant Kory Melby has been saying for months now. Whilst talk of 68 MMT of soybeans makes good press "it is only a matter of time before we hear talk of a smaller soybean crop in Brazil."

Even so of course, if we are talking 64 MMT or 68 MMT - or somewhere in between - it's still a record. Ditto Argentina at 50 MMT, 51.5 MMT or 53 MMT? That said, the bigger numbers towards the upper end of those ranges are already in the marketplace so maybe something closer to 64 MMT and 50 MMT is modestly bullish?

I still subscribe to the notion that logistics and physical availability (or lack of it) will be more important than ever this summer. US stocks are tight, the USDA will reveal just how tight on Wednesday. Consumers have left themselves short in the confident knowledge that massive crops were coming from South America.

There's just one problem, those massive crops ARE still in South America, and that isn't much use if you need soymeal in Europe tomorrow is it?

World Crop Weather

Reports coming out of India suggest that this month's soaring temperatures will see the wheat crop there ripen ahead of normal. Heat stress and lack of rainfall during March will likely see final production come in below the government's target of 82 MMT.

"The chances for a record India wheat harvest above 80 million metric tonnes is slim," says Gail Martell of Martell Crop Projections. "The Pakistan wheat harvest may also be threatened, since most of that country's wheat is grown just to the west of Punjab, India," she adds.

Meanwhile, cloud seeding in South West China appears to have brought some generally light rain to drought-stricken Yunnan province over the weekend. Although far from being a drought buster, the first rain since October fell for about three hours in Jinghong county in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Monday Morning Musings

The pound and euro are both a little firmer in early trade. The euro is benefiting from an easing of fears over Greece, and a correction from being heavily oversold. The pound is up around the 1.50 mark against the dollar, buoyed by a slightly improved performance from the Tories in some of the weekend opinion polls.

The News of the Screws pegged the Conservatives on 39% vs Labour on 31%, whilst the Sunday Times had the two leading protagonists a little closer together on 37% vs 32% respectively.

UK Feb mortgage approvals came in below expectations of 48,400 at 47,094.

The dollar is weaker, which is supporting the overnight grains which sees beans around 7c higher, with wheat 4-5c firmer and corn up a cents or so.

Crude oil is back up above USD80/barrel as the dollar declines.

Belarus says that it will need to replant around a third of it's winter rapeseed crop due to frost damage.

Kazakhstan say that they've exported 5.5 MMT of grains so far this marketing year, and that they'd like to export more, but don't much care for current prices. They're trying to get government approval of increases in subsidies to remain competitive.

Pakistan's Ag Secretary says that they have 3.5 MMT of wheat reserves, which they can't afford to sell as world prices are below the level that the government paid. Meanwhile he also admits that they don't really have the ability to properly store grain for more than a year.

Net cumulative offers of barley into intervention in the UK stand at 107,734 MT to date, the Germans have put in more than ten times that quantity.

Argy farmers had harvested around 8.5% of their soybeans and 24% of the corn crop as of last Thursday, according to the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange. With domestic prices at only around USD215/tonne before the government-imposed 35% soybean tax, growers there are less than enthusiastic too.

Will striking dockers in San Martin turn up for work later today? Reuters report that 5,000 trucks carrying grain into the port were gridlocked on Friday.

Meanwhile in Brazil's Mato Grosso the harvest is already just about over, at 98% complete. Farmer sales are running well behind normal according to Celeres as domestic prices have declined below the cost of production, and transport costs have sky-rocketed.

Although we have big crops everywhere nobody seems to like current market prices, from Kazakhstan to Pakistan and Breeze Hill to Brazil. Can a lack of farmer selling get complacent buyers to pay up?

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Yes boys and girls, time to root out the sledges again if you live "up north" with widespread snow in the forecast for everyone but the southern softies this week:

Countryfile Weather