EU Grains Recover Losses, UK Wheat Imports Fall But Corn Continues To Pour In

18/03/14 -- EU grains closed the day mostly firmer, largely recovering the bulk of yesterday's losses.

The day ended with Mar 14 London wheat GBP1.65/tonne firmer at GBP166.40/tonne, and with new crop Nov 14 London wheat closing GBP2.00/tonne firmer at GBP159.00/tonne. May 14 Paris wheat closed EUR1.00/tonne higher at EUR208.75/tonne, Jun 14 Paris corn was up EUR0.25/tonne to EUR184.50/tonne, whilst May 14 Paris rapeseed rose EUR3.25/tonne to close at EUR400.00/tonne.

Egypt's GASC bought 175 TMT of Russian, US and Romanian wheat for April 11-20 shipment. The prices paid, including freight, were said to be $311.79, £312.59 and $313.24 respectively. There were no Ukraine offers. Some would say that is significant, and others simply that they are merely sold out. I'd tend to be in the latter camp.

The Ukraine Ag Ministry said that growers there have planted 24% of their early spring grain crop on 693,000 hectares. That area is mostly spring barley (518,000 ha), with a little spring wheat. The Ministry said that early spring grain planting is likely to reach 2.9 million ha, and could total 8.9 million once the 2014 corn crop is in.

Ongoing developments between Ukraine/the West and Russia continue to make the market nervous.

Latest figures from the UK's Customs Dept shows that our domestic wheat imports fell to 122 TMT in January, the lowest monthly total of the season so far. Year to date imports (Jul/Jan) are now 1.47 MMT, down only a little on 1.63 MMT a year previously.

The rate of corn pouring into the UK however continues unabated, with nearly 312 TMT imported during the first month of 2014, taking the marketing year to date total to 1.44 MMT, an almost identical match to the volume of wheat shipped in and a rise of 54% on this time a year ago.

Lebanon bought 25,000 MT of Kazakh wheat for April shipment. Tunisia seeks 42,000 MT of optional origin wheat for April-May shipment.

Much is being made of deteriorating winter wheat crop conditions in the US due to ongoing dryness, with Kansas down from 37% a week ago to 34% good/excellent, Oklahoma down from 22% to 18% and Colorado down 8 points in the last 2 weeks to 35%. Note though that some of these numbers are still better than how things looked a year ago when Kansas wheat was only rated 29% good/excellent, with Oklahoma at 24% and Colorado at only 12%.

There are reports of wheat breaking dormancy in southwest Kansas given the warmer temperatures, with some areas set to see highs near 70 by the middle of this week.

Large parts of Central and Eastern Europe also remain dry, delaying spring planting and potentially harming winter grains. The EU Commission's MARS unit will release their first estimates on potential EU yields on Monday.