Early Call On Chicago

14/02/11 -- The overnight grains were mixed with wheat up 8-12c, beans down 1c to up 2c and corn unchanged to up a half.

Wheat led the pack on more concerns over China's winter crop in the Northern Plains, otherwise there wasn't too much fresh news. Crude oil is static around USD85.50/barrel.

Tunisia bought 100,000 MT of optional origin wheat and Iraq bought 200,000 MT of US and 150,000 MT of Australian wheat, bringing their total purchases to 850,000 MT so far this year.

The USDA hold their annual Outlook conference next week when we get our first hints at how spring planting in the US might go, before we get the more official data at the end of March. Generally they've proven to be more accurate than some of the other early high profile private estimates over the past couple of years.

At the moment of course all the talk is about the "battle for acres" - with corn at USD7/bushel and demand from the ethanol monster in full swing then a significant increase in corn plantings could be on the cards.

The NOPA Jan soybean crush came in at 144.6 million bushels, matching expectations and still ahead of the pace needed to reach the USDA's target for the 2010/11 season.

Frost damage to Mexican corn is also in the headlights today with 1.5 million acres possibly affected and in need of replanting. To ensure that they don't run out of tacos they've just bought 145,000 MT of corn from the US today, along with 129,600 MT of sorghum.

Chinese customs data shows Jan edible oil imports at 610,000 MT, 12% up on this time last year.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn steady, beans down 1-2c, wheat up 9-11c.