EU Grains Flat To Modestly Higher, Strong Export Pace Continues

06/02/14 -- EU grains were flat to mostly a little higher, in relatively quiet trade, with another solid week of export figures underpinning the market.

Mar 14 London wheat ended unchanged at GBP153.80/tonne, whilst new crop Nov 14 gained GBP0.25/tonne to GBP145.75/tonne. Mar 14 Paris wheat was unchanged at EUR194.00/tonne, as was Mar 14 Paris corn at EUR174.50/tonne, whilst May 14 Paris rapeseed rose EUR2.75/tonne gain to EUR377.25/tonne.

Brussels confirmed another bumper week of soft wheat export licences, granting 872 TMT worth. That takes the season's total so far to 18.2 MMT, up more than 55% on 11.7 MMT this time a year ago. For once the export number far outstripped the volume of corn import licences issued. That total came in at 288 TMT, bringing the cumulative total for the season so far to 7.4 MMT.

The FAO's February AMIS Market Monitor reported this year's global wheat crop at a record 714 MMT, up 3 MMT on their previous estimate and 1 MMT above that of the USDA. Ending stocks were increased 4 MMT from December to 176 MMT, which is 11% more than last season.

The 2013/14 world corn crop was placed at a cool 1 billion tonnes, 125 MMT up on a year ago, and also unsurprisingly a record. World corn ending stocks were estimated at 175 MMT, up by a third on those at the end of 2012/13.

"In Ukraine and Russia overall conditions are favourable at this early stage of the season and the crop is in the dormancy phase. Towards the end of the month, cold weather moved into the region and wide-spread snow covered much of the wheat areas providing a protective layer against frost and winterkill. Limited areas in central, southern and eastern Ukraine as well as in southern Russia, where protective snow cover is low, are more susceptible to frost damage in the event of extreme cold temperatures. However, to date wide-spread frost damage has not been reported," they said.

"In the EU overall conditions are favourable. However, since mid-December most areas experienced exceptionally mild temperatures, which have significantly delayed hardening of winter wheat from Ireland to Poland, resulting in a decreased tolerance to future frosts," they added.

They wrapped up a general view that there isn't anything majorly threatening for the global wheat crop at the moment by saying "In India, wheat is in the reproductive phase and conditions are good. A bumper crop is projected due to an increase in planted area. In Pakistan, mild weather is supporting favourable wheat conditions. In China, conditions are favourable for the dormant wheat crop. In the southern hemisphere harvest is complete."

The Kazakhstan Statistics Agency said that their 2013 grain crop was 18.2 MMT, up 42% from 2012. That included 13.9 MMT of wheat, also up 42% from a year ago.

The Russian Ag Minister said that Russia's 2013 grain harvest exceeded the official Rosstat estimate of 91.3 MMT in clean weight without giving a figure of his own. Russian farmers are a little economical with the truth when declaring their production figures to the government he suggested. The very idea!

Winter crop losses this year will not exceed 5%, he said, sticking by his first forecast for a grain crop of 95 MMT for 2014/15. Cynics would say that the government always start off with an estimate of 95 MMT.

In Ukraine, the local Ministry in Crimea said that 79.8% of winter crops were in good condition, with a further 19.5% said to be satisfactory.