EU Grains Little Changed Heading Into Year End

30/12/13 -- There was precious little in the way of fresh and stimulating information or trade on the go today - as you might expect 'twixt Christmas and New Year. Whatever activity did go on was probably down to the final few bits of year-end book-squaring in predictably thin market conditions and EU prices ended with little change.

Jan 14 London wheat ended GBP0.25/tonne lower at GBP163.75/tonne, Jan 14 Paris wheat finished EUR0.50/tonne higher at EUR209.25/tonne, Jan 14 Paris corn fell EUR0.50/tonne to EUR171.75/tonne, whilst Feb 14 Paris rapeseed was unchanged at EUR367.00/tonne.

The Russian Ministry reported that the country had exported 1.75 MMT of grains so far this month (Dec 1-25), including 1.14 MMT of wheat, 428 TMT of corn and 127 TMT of barley. That's down versus the circa 2.5 MMT of grains exported in November, as expected.

Marketing year-to-date grain exports are now 15.7 MMT - the same as in the whole of drought-ravaged 2012/13 crop year.

SovEcon reported that domestic wheat prices in Russia fell by the equivalent of around $3/tonne last week, after eleven successive weeks of increases. Some are suggesting that this is the start of a trend.

UkrAgroConsult forecast the Russian wheat crop at 51.0 MMT in clean weight, versus 37.8 MMT last year, with corn production rising to 11.0 MMT from 8.2 MMT a year ago and barley output up to 15.2 MMT from 14.0 MMT in 2012.

They estimate full season 2013/14 Russian wheat exports at 15.5 MMT, up 40% versus 11.1 MMT in 2012/13, with those for corn up 74% to 3.3 MMT from 1.9 MMT and those for barley up 9% to 2.4 MMT from 2.2 MMT.

The Russian Ministry said that the domestic sunflower harvest is still ongoing at just over 95% done (6.75 million hectares of the planted 7.08 million), with output forecast at a record 10.2 MMT (up nearly 28% on last year).

They finished harvesting their record near 1.4 MMT of 2013 OSR earlier in the year, and forecast winter and spring plantings combined rising 6% for the 2014 harvest.

This is likely partly related to enforced reduced winter grains plantings this year, but also appears to be part of a general surge in grower interest in expanding their cropping areas into oilseeds and corn in both Russia and Ukraine in recent years. The planting of better quality hybrid seeds sees farmers here now achieving much better, more Westernised, yields than were feasible only a few years ago - attracting more interest in growing these crops.

The Kazakh grain harvest ended at 20.9 MMT in bunker weight this year, which will probably mean a clean weight harvest of 18.5 MMT, up 43% on last year, according to the Ag Ministry there.