EU Grains Mixed, UK Wheat Exports Rage Ahead

14/05/13 - EU grains were mixed in fairly subdued trade. Last night's planting progress report from the USDA said that only 28% of the US corn crop was in the ground as of Sunday night, the slowest pace on record and well below 65% for the 5-year average. With a largely dry start to this week though the trade is thinking this could rise to around 50% done by the end of the coming weekend.

Even so, early planting is not directly linked to big yields, and neither is late planting necessarily a precursor of low yields. "Among other years with slow spring planting only 1984 was similarly late (29% done at this time). Yet the 1984 US corn yield finished near average, proving it is not impossible to obtain a productive yield from retarded planting," said Martell Crop Projections.

Meanwhile "among the fastest planting years on record, only 2004 corn made an excellent corn yield. Merely average yields were obtained in 2000, 2005 and 2006 all with accelerated spring planting dates. The 2010 corn yield even finished below normal despite a rapid planting rate, and national yields in 2012 and 1988 finished very poorly, despite early seeding," they added.

London wheat closed with front month May 13 down EUR0.25/tonne to GBP191.25/tonne and new crop Nov 13 GBP0.20/tonne firmer to GBP182.40/tonne. Paris wheat closed with front month Nov 13 EUR0.25/tonne lower at EUR210.00/tonne.

Wheat continues to flood into the UK. The latest customs data shows that UK wheat imports in March were 251 TMT versus exports of less than 33 TMT. That means that UK wheat imports had already reached 2.23 MMT by the end of Q3 2012/13, within spitting distance of the official Defra full season estimate of 2.26 MMT.

Ukraine spring grains are 94% planted, including 4.5 million hectares of corn, according to the Ministry there. The National Weather Centre said that winter crops are in good condition, despite some dryness in the east, and that moisture reserves are generally good after decent winter rains and heavy snowfall. Rain is falling in western and central areas of the country today, moving east. Almost the entire country is expected to receive above average rains in the next 14 days.

Southern Russia should also get some decent rain in the next two weeks, although the Volga region looks set to remain relatively dry. Spring grain plantings, which were more than double year ago levels by mid-April, have slowed to now only be in line with last year's pace as many growers wait for rain.

According to the latest data from the Russian Ministry 12.5 million hectares have now been sown with spring grains, just over 40% of the planned area. Only 2.3 million ha of spring wheat has been sown versus 3.0 million ha a year ago. Spring barley currently occupies an area of 5.4 million ha compared with 5.2 million a year ago, with corn at 1.8 million versus 1.3 million in 2012.

The Russian Ministry sold 41,991 MT of intervention grains in a tender today, bringing the cumulative 2012/13 total to date to 3.15 MMT since sales began in October.

They said grain exports in April were 430 TMT. These will fall a little to around 350-400 TMT in May, before rising to around 500-600 TMT in June, they estimate.

Dryness may cut Australian rapeseed plantings by 200,000 ha, say Oil World. That could cut production for 2013/14 to around 3 MMT they say, although that's actually higher than the USDA's 2.8 MMT forecast from Friday. The latter having plantings down 250,000 ha versus last year.

Chinese think tank CNGOIC forecast record corn (214 MMT) and wheat (121.9 MMT) production there this year. Both estimates are slightly higher than the USDA's 212 MMT and 121 MMT respectively, released Friday night.