EU Grains Suffer Bout Of Post Easter Blues

22/04/14 -- EU grains returned from the Easter break looking decidedly unwell, as if having overdosed on chocolate, with wheat under particular pressure following a dismal performance across the pond yesterday.

May 14 London ended down GBP2.65/tonne at GBP167.50/tonne, and new crop Nov 14 slumped GBP4.80/tonne lower to GBP156.70/tonne in high volume trade. May 14 Paris wheat closed down EUR2.75/tonne at EUR214.75/tonne, Jun 14 Paris corn fell EUR3.25/tonne to EUR184.75/tonne and May 14 Paris rapeseed was EUR1.50/tonne easier at EUR422.25/tonne.

The UK was treated to a largely fine Easter break, with a return to more unsettled conditions now due for the rest of the week. Most will welcome the rains, although crop conditions generally look very good anyway at the moment. Toepfer last week forecast the UK wheat crop at 15.1 MMT, a 26.7% rise on last year.

Welcome rain is also forecast across almost all over Europe in the latest 15-day forecast, with all but southern Spain expected to pick up above average totals. A huge area stretching right across almost all of France, Germany, into the western half of Poland and down through the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and into Romania and Bulgaria will pick up 2-3 times their normal rainfall in the period through to May 7, according to the latest GFS model.

Current estimates have the EU-28 wheat crop around 2% higher this year, with output in France little changed, Poland a little higher and Germany a little lower.

Most of Ukraine is also forecast to pick up beneficial rains, which will aid both winter and newly planted spring grains. Belarus, where early spring grains have been sown on almost 973k ha (or 91.2% of plan), along with just over 300k ha of corn (38% of plan), is also in for decent precipitation totals.

Ukraine exported almost 390 TMT of grains via it's seaports last week, according to APK Inform. Wheat accounted for 154.5 TMT of that total, and corn a further 176.7 TMT. APK Inform expect full season grain exports out of Ukraine to hit a record 31.3 MMT this season, including 19.5 MMT of corn, 9 MMT of wheat and 2.2 MMT of barley. "Exports will not face any significant disruptions," they said, referring to the current political tensions.

Russian spring grain planting has now been completed on 3.7 million ha, or 11.5% of plan. That's up from 2.1 million ha last week and versus 2.8 million ha this time last year. Barley accounts for 2.1 million ha of the total area planted so far.

FranceAgriMer said that 100% of the French winter wheat crop is in ear versus only 60% a year ago at this time. Spring barley emergence is 100% versus 74% this time last year. Corn planting is 39% done versus only 4% at this time in 2013.

Clearly the French harvest is going to be early. Crop conditions are also better than they were 12 months ago, with winter wheat rated 75% good/very good versus 66% this time last year, and winter barley at 73% good/very good compared to 65% a year ago.

India's wheat harvest is underway, but is around 15 days late due to rain. The Ag Ministry there say that cooler than normal temperatures throughout the growing season meant that the crop has ripened more slowly than normal, and that therefore they expect yields to be higher this year. Hail damage was described as "insignificant" by a Ministry spokesman. The government say that they plan to buy 31 MMT of wheat on the domestic market this year versus 25.4 MMT last year. The late harvest though means that they've only purchased 7.5 MMT for the state-owned fund so far this year versus 12 MMT a year ago at this time.

The pound hit a fresh 5-year high against the US dollar today, and hovers close to 1.22 versus the euro. A significant break above that level could see it test the early 2013 high of 1.2340 against the single currency. Both would keep UK corn and wheat imports cheap, and harm new crop wheat export potential.