Chicago Closing Comments - Friday Night

24/01/14 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed around 6-7 cents higher and meal posted an impressive $7 advance in the nears, although both still finished lower for the week. Recent Argentine rains are said to have produced highly variable totals, with some areas in northern Buenos Aires receiving up to 36.7 mm, while others missed out almost entirely. The Argentine Ministry left their estimate for plantings unchanged at 20.8 million hectares, only a fairly modest 4% rise on last year. They say that 92% of the crop was planted as of Jan 16. They haven't released a production forecast yet. Safras e Mercado estimated the Brazilian soybean crop at a record 91.8 MMT, up 12% on last year, an up from their Decemeber forecast of 90.9 MMT. Weekly US export sales for beans of 703,400 MT for 2013/14 were similar to the previous week. China (295,700 MT, including 60,000 MT switched from unknown) was the biggest buyer. New crop sales were particularly impressive coming in at 969,800 MT and were mostly for China (854,500 MT) and unknown destinations (120,000 MT). Weekly soybean shipments were nearly 1.6 MMT. Net soybean commitments are now 104% of the USDA forecast for the season, with 69% of that total already sailed. Meal sales of 241,400 MT were also strong, as were weekly shipments of 398,600 MT which were more than 50% up on the previous 4-week average. This robust demand for meal means that there's far too much oil about. Mar 14 soybean oil closed at a new lowest level for a front month since July 2010. Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $12.84 3/4, up 7 3/4 cents; May 14 Soybeans closed at $12.70, up 7 1/2 cents; Mar 14 Soybean Meal closed at $425.70, up $7.00; Mar 14 Soybean Oil closed at 37.54, down 32 points.

Corn: The corn market closed with marginal gains. The Argentine Ministry estimated the 2013/14 corn planted area at 5.7 million hectares, unchanged on previously but down 6.5% on last year. Of this area almost 1 million will go for feed, they said. They estimated that 34% of the crop was flowering and 13% at the grain filling stage as at Jan 16. Corn that was flowering in late December and early January will suffer yield losses due to the prevailing adverse weather conditions at the time, they added. In Argentina, the hot and dry spell earlier this month and last means that corn damage potential is far worse than for soybeans. Extreme heat has “punished” corn that was in the first grain filling stage, said Martell Crop Projections. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange said that Argentine corn planting was 90% complete, up 4 points from a week previously. Weekly US export sale for corn came in at 693,000 MT for 2013/14 and included 75,900 MT to China. Weekly shipments of 799,100 MT didn't include sight of China. In addition, the USDA reported sales of 150,000 MT of US corn to Spain, 120,000 MT to Egypt and 100,000 MT to Japan under the daily reporting system - all for 20013/14. In addition, Israeli buyers were reported to have booked 90 TMT of optional origin corn for Apr/May shipment. Algeria are reported to have bought 20 TMT of corn from Ukraine. Russia was said by SovEcon to have exported 700 TMT of corn in December, including a first ever consignment to Japan. There's now talk that the dispute with China over the MIR 162 Syngenta corn variety is unlikely to be resolved until at least the end of March, and possibly may drag on longer than that. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.29 1/2, up 1/2 cent; May 14 Corn closed at $4.36, up 3/4 cent. For the week as a whole Mar 14 corn added 5 1/2 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed around 4-5 cents lower across the three exchanges. Recent snowfalls in Russia and Ukraine may mean that the winter wheat crop there has "got out of jail" just in the nick of time. There's still talk of winterkill potential in the US next week though when the next deep freeze hits. Parts of Nebraska and Missouri and much of Kansas don't have snow cover. In addition, southern Illinois and Indiana also have areas that could be at risk. The trade will be hoping that US wheat gets a look in in the Saudi tender, the results of which should be announced early next week. Libya was reported to have bought Black Sea origin wheat. US weekly export sales for wheat came in at 421,400 MT for delivery during the 2013/14 marketing year, plus 8,000 MT for 2014/15. Brazil (112,500 MT, including 25,000 MT switched from unknown destinations) was the largest buyer. Shipments of 420,700 MT included Nigeria (78,600 MT), China (61,800 MT), Indonesia (57,800 MT), Japan (41,100 MT) and Mexico (37,900 MT). Those were pretty so-so results as US wheat continues to fight with Canadian, Australian, European, FSU and even Indian origin material for business. The latter are tendering again to sell 120 TMT of wheat and appear confident of a record 2014 wheat harvest which is now only a couple of months away. The US wheat harvest itself will begin in May and so the whole northern hemisphere wheat merry go round begins again. Wheat carry over stocks at the end of 2013/14 will be 5.4% higher heading into the new season, according to the USDA. The world will also be sitting on more than 20% more corn going into 2014/15 than it began this season with. Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.65 1/4, down 4 3/4 cents; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.27 1/4, down 5 cents; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.13, down 4 1/4 cents.

EU Wheat Flat As Corn Pours In Through The Out Door

24/01/14 -- EU grains closed with little change on the day, and aside from Monday's losses, not that much changed on the week.

New front month Mar 14 London wheat ended GBP0.05/tonne lower at GBP151.95/tonne, and new crop Nov 14 closed GBP0.20/tonne higher at GBP143.95/tonne. Mar 14 Paris wheat finished down EUR1.00/tonne to EUR192.75/tonne, Mar 14 Paris corn also slipped a euro to EUR172.75/tonne, whilst Feb 14 Paris rapeseed fell EUR0.50/tonne to EUR358.00/tonne.

For the week, Mar 14 London wheat was GBP2.15/tonne lower, with Nov 14 down GBP0.80/tonne. Mar 14 Paris wheat was EUR1.00/tonne higher on the week, with Mar 14 corn up EUR0.25/tonne and Feb 14 rapeseed EUR2.50/tonne weaker.

International demand for wheat is good, with low world prices attracting volume buying interest from the likes of Egypt, Iraq, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and China this past week. Competition for those orders is also strong however.

As well as the US, there's Canada and Australia for EU wheat to contend with. Meanwhile Russia and Ukraine seem to keep squeezing the odd extra cargo out every now and again.

On top of that of course there's also India, who are tendering to sell another 120 TMT of wheat again this week. They re-iterated their claim that they could harvest a record 100 MMT of wheat this year, which could keep them in the international export market throughout 2014/15.

Whilst EU exports remain strong in the face of all this competition, with Brussels granting 819 TMT of soft wheat export licences this week, don't forget that there's also lots of cheap foreign corn coming in through the out door, and in close to identical volumes.

The last four week's worth of EU soft wheat export licences have totalled 2.63 MMT versus 2.35 MMT of corn imports being authorised.

Including durum and wheat flour exports, the EU has so far granted export licences for a total volume of 17.5 MMT of "all wheat" this season, that's 67.4% of the USDA's forecast for 2013/14. At the same time import licences for 74.4% of the USDA's estimate for EU 2013/14 corn imports have also been issued.

In other news, SovEcon said that Russia had exported 2.4 MMT of grains in December, mainly 1.5 MMT of wheat and 700 TMT of corn - the latter included a first ever shipment of Russian corn to Japan. January exports will fall to around 1.0-1.3 MMT of grains, including 500-600 TMT of wheat, they estimate.

Excessive wetness remains an issue on parts of the UK, northern and south eastern France and Spain, and parts of Italy.

Things are looking up in Ukraine and Russia though after an unseasonably warm and dry December. "Strong waves of rain and snow showers have ended a long drought in Ukraine and southern Russia, thereby improving the outlook for winter wheat. At least one inch of moisture, but up to 2 inches, has developed in Odessa, a key wheat area in southern Ukraine. Krasnodar and Stravropol, top winter wheat districts in southern Russia, have received almost a month’s worth of precipitation from recurring showers the past 10-14 days," said Martell Crop Projections.

Chicago Mixed, Wheat The Leader For Once

23/01/14 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed a little lower, pressured by the jungle drums beating louder with regards to Chinese cancellations/switching US soybean purchases to Brazil. The USDA may shed some light on these rumours with tomorrow's weekly export sales report. For soybeans, that is expected to reveal sales of around 400-600 TMT. Remember that existing commitments are already in excess of 100% of the USDA's forecast for the season, so net sales of any magnitude would only tighten old crop availability even further. Strong domestic demand for meal is also supporting beans, although another rumour doing the rounds today is that Argentine meal is being shipped to the southeast US. Reuters carried a report that Argentine farmers are still holding 8.4 MMT of 2012/13 soybeans versus around 1.6 MMT a year ago as hedge against inflation and the falling peso. MDA CropCast cut their forecast for the Argentine soybean crop by 1.66 MMT from last week to 55.12 MMT (the USDA are currently at 54.5 MMT). They left Brazil unchanged at 90.48 MMT versus the USDA's 89 MMT. Suddenly much wetter Argentine weather is finally seen as helping newly planted beans. Yet another rumour going around is of China rejecting Brazilian soybean oil for not meeting it’s standards. Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $12.77, down 2 1/2 cents; May 14 Soybeans closed at $12.62 1/2, down 2 1/2 cents; Mar 14 Soybean Meal closed at $418.70, down $0.70; Mar 14 Soybean Oil closed at 37.86, up 2 points.

Corn: The corn market closed around 2 to 3 cents higher. Taiwan cancelled a tender for 60 TMT of US corn for April shipment. MDA CropCast cut their Argentine corn production estimate 170 TMT from last week to 23.92 MMT (the USDA are at 25 MMT). They more than compensated for that by raising their Brazilian corn crop estimate by 1.47 MMT from last week to 73.27 MMT (the USDA say 70 MMT). That hike came from "continued favourable conditions in most areas" they said. The Energy Dept reported weekly US ethanol production of 905,000 barrels/day, up sharply from 868,000 bpd last week, although it would seem that those figures were skewed to the low side due to the hard freeze of that week restricting movement of corn. Despite an improved weather outlook for Argentina, some think that the damage may have already been done - particularly for corn. "Rainfall has increased this week in Argentina with scattered strong thunderstorms, but crop damage was incurred from heat and drought previously. Two heat waves, one in December and another this month, have stressed corn and soybeans. Late-planted crops with shallow roots were most damaged by temperatures above 95 F and reduced rainfall," said Martell Crop Projections. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report for corn are all over the place, anywhere from 250-900 TMT I have seen. I'll go for around 500 TMT. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.29, up 2 3/4 cents; May 14 Corn closed at $4.35 1/4, up 2 1/4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market put in some decent gains for once, on strong world demand. Saudi Arabia tendered for 660 TMT of a hard/soft wheat mixture for April/June shipment. Ethiopia seeks 70 TMT of optional origin milling wheat. Iraq bought 350 TMT of wheat, including a rare US cargo. Japan bought 99,052 US wheat for Feb/March shipment. China supposedly bought 150-200 TMT of Australian wheat and is said to be looking to the US for more. Taiwan bought 73,400 MT of US milling wheat. Talk is that another Arctic air blast for early next week could bring threatening cold weather to parts of southeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri which do not have snow cover. Nebraska winter wheat could also be at risk. There are also growing drought concerns for wheat on the US central and southern plains. Movement of Canada's record 2013/14 wheat crop is being restricted by logistical problems, which aren't being helped by the freezing weather. They've got the wheat to sell, but they're struggling to physically get it to market. There's also talk of a sudden sharp drop in temperatures potentially putting unprotected crops at risk in Europe and the FSU. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report are around 300-600 TMT. Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.70, up 8 3/4 cents; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.32 1/4, up 7 1/2 cents; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.17 1/4, up 1/2 cent.

Is There A Bit Of Light At The End Of The Wheat Tunnel?

23/01/14 -- EU grains were mostly a bit firmer. Wheat gained support from strong underlying demand.

Jan 14 London wheat went off the board with a whimper, unchanged and untraded at GBP150.50/tonne, whilst new crop Nov 14 was also flat at GBP143.75/tonne. Other months were up to GBP0.50/tonne higher. Mar 14 Paris wheat rose EUR0.75/tonne to EUR193.75/tonne, Mar 14 Paris corn was up EUR1.25/tonne at EUR173.75/tonne and Feb 14 Paris rapeseed was EUR1.50/tonne higher at EUR358.50/tonne.

Very strong demand for wheat is coming to the fore with prices at, or near, multi-year lows.

Algeria bought around 500 TMT of wheat yesterday, Egypt has already been a big volume buyer this month, and Saudi Arabia today entered the fray, with it's first public wheat tender since early November.

They are in the market for 660 TMT, comprising 550 TMT of hard wheat and 110 TMT of soft wheat for April/June shipment.

Iraq bought 350 TMT of hard wheat from Australia, Canada and the US yesterday too. Meanwhile China are said to be actively shopping for around 200 TMT of Australian and/or US wheat.

Brussels announced that they'd issued 819 TMT of soft wheat export licences this past week - the second largest weekly total of the season so far. That takes the total volume granted for export so far in 2013/14 to an impressive 16.7 MMT. That's almost 6 MMT, or more than 50%, ahead of where we were a year ago at this time.

The USDA's current forecast for the season is for the EU-28 to export only 15% more wheat in 2013/14 than in 2012/13.

Persistent wetness remains an issue in some parts of the UK, France and Italy. There's also some talk of winterkill potential in Russia and Ukraine as well as the US.

Whilst it's probably unlikely that losses will be serious, there's maybe enough uncertainty to encourage a bit of short-covering.

Chicago Ends Little Changed

22/01/14 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed narrowly mixed. Those hoping for a holiday delayed "Turnaround Tuesday" on a Wednesday were ultimatey disappointed, although the overnight market traded positive for much of the day. Good rains in Argentina, along with an outlook for somewhat cooler temperatures, and generally near ideal weather in Brazil - where the harvest is now under way - capped gains. "The window to really hurt the Brazilian soybean crop is beginning to close which sets the stage for a record amount of soybeans hitting the market," said one commentator. There's also a loud undercurrent of rumour of Chinese cancellations of US soybean purchases, although nothing has been confirmed yet. Monday's MLK Day holiday means that we won't get to see the USDA's regular weekly export sales data until Friday. Cancellations are needed, with US sales commitments already 102% of the USDA's target for the season. Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $12.79 1/2, down 1 cent; May 14 Soybeans closed at $12.65, up 1 cent; Mar 14 Soybean Meal closed at $419.40, up $2.90; Mar 14 Soybean Oil closed at 37.84, down 26 points.

Corn: The corn market managed modest gains, closing around the middle of a relatively narrow daily trading range. Improved South American weather limits upside. Various analysts see Brazil's corn crop 5-6 MT higher than the USDA's 70 MMT. The results of Israel's tender for 90,000 MT of corn for April/May shipment are expected tomorrow. Also out tomorrow will be the weekly ethanol grind from the US Energy Dept. Last week's production fell sharply to 868,000 barrels/day, although this may have been down to logistical difficulties in moving physical corn due to the Polar Vortex deep freeze that hit the US. The trade will be looking for this week's production to be closer to 900,000 bpd. Weekly export sales are delayed until Friday. Current commitments on corn are 80% of the USDA's target for the season versus last year’s figure of 73% and the 5-year average of 58%. South Korea bought 60,000 MT of US corn in a tender. There's been no progress made in resolving the MIR 162 corn dispute with China it would seem. Chinese markets are closed Jan 31st – Feb 3rd for the Lunar New Year holiday. Their markets re-open Feb 4th. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.26 1/4, up 1 1/4 cents; May 14 Corn closed at $4.33, up 3/4 cent.

Wheat: The wheat market ended mixed, a cent lower to 3 cents higher. China are seen stepping up their wheat purchases with prices at 3 1/2 year lows. They are said to be actively seeking Australian and/or US wheat for April shipment. China imported almost 50% more wheat in 2013 than it did a year previously. "Another big Chinese/US export program starting into the spring and extending into harvest could favour the bull camp given the recent planting intentions report that showed a decline in acres from last year," said one market observer. China sold 239,834 MT of wheat (56.43% of the total offered) at today’s government auction. The Xinhua news agency said that China will continue their stockpiling policy in 2014 for wheat, rice, sugar, and rapeseed. Stockpiling of soybeans and cotton will cease and be replaced by direct susidies. The Canadian Stats Office said that they'd exported 1.428 MMT of wheat (excluding durum) in November 2013, up 53% versus the same month a year previously. That takes exports for Aug/Nov to 5.716 MMT, up 27% on a year previously. The top home was the US, taking 1.125 MMT, followed by Mexico (524 TMT), Indonesia (492 TMT), Japan (393 TMT), Brazil (289 TMT), Italy (275 TMT) and Morocco (256 TMT). Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.61 1/4, down 1 cent; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.24 3/4, up 3 1/2 cents; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.16 3/4, up 3 cents.

Not Much Movement On EU Wheat, Strong Pound Hinders London Market

22/01/14 -- EU grains finished mixed, with Jan 14 London wheat ending unchanged at GBP150.50/tonne, whilst new crop Now 14 London wheat closed GBP0.15/tonne lower at GBP143.75/tonne - a new lifetime closing low for the contract.

Mar 14 Paris wheat was EUR0.75/tonne firmer at EUR193.00/tonne, Mar 14 corn was down EUR1.00/tonne to EUR172.50/tonne, whilst Feb 14 Paris rapeseed closed EUR2.00/tonne lower at EUR357.00/tonne.

Jan 14 London wheat goes off the board tomorrow, putting Mar 14 as the front month. The pound hit $1.6565 against the dollar today. That's close to it's best levels since August 2011, which didn't help London wheat's cause too much - particularly on new crop.

That won't improve 204/15 export prospects, whilst at the same time it will make corn imports even cheaper.

French wheat got support from strong export demand. Algeria bought around 500,000 MT of optional origin willing wheat for April/May shipment, priced circa $285-288 C&F, with France being the most likely origin.

Ukraine is expecting temperatures to dip to -10 to -15 C across the next few days, but recent snowfalls may help minimise damage to winter wheat.

Having only managed to buy 5,400 MT of grains at yesterday's intervention purchase - the lowest volume of the season so far - the Russian government fared little better today, picking up just 7,965 MT. That takes the total bought so far to only 557,415 MT which is way below their original intentions.

This would seem to indicate that domestic supplies are tightening. Russia exported 16.36 MMT of grains in the first half of 2013/14, this will fall to around 6 MMT in the second half of the season (Jan/Jun), said Rusagrotrans.

They said that Russia had exported 12.56 MMT of wheat, 1.93 MMT of barley and 1.68 MMT of corn in Jul/Dec. They project wheat exports for the remainder of the season at 3.4-3.9 MMT, with barley exports at 0.57 MMT and corn exports at 1.3-1.8 MMT. That would give full season totals of 16.0-16.5 MMT for wheat, 2.5 MMT for barley and 3.0-3.5 MMT for corn.

Russia will export 1.0-1.1 MMT of grains this month, down from 1.39 MMT in December, they added.

Hungary confirmed that they'd harvested 13.5 MMT of grains in 2013, a 30% increase on the previous year. That included 6.7 MMT of corn, up 41%, and 5 MMT of wheat, up 25%.

UkrAgroConsult estimated the Kazakh 2013 wheat crop at 14.5 MMT in clean weight, up from a previous forecast of 14.2 MMT and the 2012 harvest of 9.8 MMT.

They forecast Kazakh wheat exports at 7.2 MMT in 2013/14, versus 5.5 MMT a year ago. Ending stocks will rise to 4.2 MMT from 3.4 MMT, they added.

Euronext announced that they will launch rapeseed meal and oil futures contracts sometime later this year. They said that the volume traded in the Paris-based rapeseed contract last year was the equivalent of 93 MMT, which is roughly 150% of global production of the oilseed.

Chicago Soybeans Crash On Argentine Rains

21/01/14 -- Soycomplex: Beans fell hard on weekend rains in Argentina, and the forecast for more to come, along with unconfirmed rumours that China had begun cancelling US soybean purchases and switching them to Brazil. The forecast for Argentina has 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches of rain for 70-80% of the country's growing areas, with temperatures cooling from 95-100 degrees into the mid-80's to low 90's range. AgRural estimated the Brazilian bean crop at 88.8 MMT versus a previous estimate of 89.4 MMT. They said that the Mato Grosso bean harvest is 4% complete versus 3% a year ago. Celeres said that, as of Jan 10, Brazilian growers had 41.7% of their 2013/14 soybean crop sold versus 55.9% a year ago due to less attractive prices. They estimated Brazil’s 2013/14 bean crop at a record 89.9 MMT. Oil World estimated US Sept – Feb bean exports at a record 34.8 MMT versus 31.15 MMT a year ago. They pegged full season US exports at 41.2 MMT. Chinese customs confirm Dec soybean imports at 7.4 MMT, up 25.7% versus Dec 2012. That takes the 2013 calendar year imports to 63.375 MMT, up 8.55% versus 2012. Of that volume 50% came from Brazil, 35% from the US, 10% from Argentina and 3.6% from Uruguay plus smaller volumes from Canada/Russia etc. In volume terms imports from the US were down 14.38% versus 2012, whilst those from Brazil were up 33.14% and those from Argentina were up 3.87%. China also imported 3.663 MMT of rapeseed in 2013 (up 25% versus 2012) with 2.79 MMT (76%) coming from Canada and 855 TMT (23%) from Australia. Funds were estimated to have dumped around 12,000 lots of their soybean length on the day. Weekly export inspections were a respectable 56.591 million bushels, although that's slightly below 59.382 million for the same week last year. Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $12.80 1/2, down 36 cents; May 14 Soybeans closed at $12.64, down 33 1/4 cents; Mar 14 Soybean Meal closed at $416.50, down $18.00; Mar 14 Soybean Oil closed at 38.10, up 36 points.

Corn: The corn market was flat to a cent higher, doing its best to ignore weakness in beans. Safras e Mercado estimated the Brazilian corn crop at 75.6 MMT, down 7.9% on last year. They see summer production at 28.2 MMT, with second crop corn at 47.4 MMT. The USDA currently estimate the Brazilian corn crop at only 70 MMT. Japanese corn usage in animal feed in November was 44.4%, up from 43.6% in October and 42.5% in November 2012. Chinese customs confirmed Dec corn imports at 821 TMT, up 209.2% versus Dec 2012. That takes the 2013 calendar year imports to only 3.265 MMT however, down 37.3% versus 2012. SovEcon estimated Russia's 2013/14 corn exports at 3.5 MMT. Jan exports are seen at around 500 TMT, down from the record 682 TMT shipped out in December. South American weather is seen improving. "Thunderstorms developed overnight in Argentina’s southern grain belt. Parts of western Buenos Aires, a key corn producing area, received heavy rain overnight. Generous rain is expected to spread northward through the grain belt. The GFS model sees the potential for 1.5-2 inch rains from strong thunderstorms. Rainfall is needed to quench drought. Extreme heat was reported again yesterday in the grain belt with highs of 96-100 F. Strong cooling would develop the balance of the week, behind a progressive cold front," said Martell Crop Projections. Weekly US export inspections of 29.811 million bushels were better than the 20-25 million expected. Iran was said to have bought "at least" 50 TMT of Brazilian corn for Jan-Feb shipment. Some say that the volume could be double that. Israeli buyers are tendering for 90 TMT of corn for Apr/May shipment. The Energy Dept's regular weekly ethanol production report is delayed until Thursday following the MLK Day holiday. Funds were estimate to have been light net buyers of around 3,000 corn contracts on the day. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.25, up 1 cent; May 14 Corn closed at $4.32 1/4, up 1/2 cent.

Wheat: The wheat market attempted a feeble recovery from Friday's lows in the overnight session, trading modestly higher for most of the day. Ultimately though, the wheat market finished with losses of around 1-4 cents across the three exchanges by the close of play. Mar 14 CBOT wheat posted a fresh contract low close and the lowest finish for a front month in 3 1/2 years. Weekly export inspections were only 15.557 million bushels versus 25.596 million for the same week last year. The trade was expecting 17-22 million. Chinese customs confirmed Dec wheat imports at 389 TMT, up a whopping 6938% versus Dec 2012. That takes the 2013 calendar year imports to 5.5 MMT, up 49.3% versus 2012. Of that total 3.82 MMT (69%) came from the US, 867 TMT (16%) from Canada and 611 TMT (11%) from Australia. They are reported to be in the market seeking 200 TMT of Australian wheat at the moment. There's also talk of them seeking US wheat for April shipment. Algeria seeks 50 TMT of milling wheat of optional origin, but probably French, for April shipment. Iraq seeks 50 TMT of hard wheat, and will probably buy Australian origin. India is tendering to sell 60 TMT of wheat for Feb-March shipment. Bids for that are expected to be in the mid to  low $270's FOB, which would still be well above the government's stated minimum price. Japan was said to have bought 50 TMT of Canadian feed wheat. There's talk of another Arctic blast hitting the US Midwest on Thursday, which could be a threat for winter wheat. Black Sea wheat also remains at risk of winterkill. Moscow will see single digit temperatures this week, with only limited snowfall. The Russian Ministry managed to pick up only 5,400 MT of wheat in it's first intervention purchase of 2014. That takes the total volume bought so far to less than 550 TMT compared to an original target of 5-6 MMT. Some think that only 2-3 MMT is a more realistic aim, but at this rate even that looks ambitious. Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.62 1/4, down 1 1/4 cents; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.21 1/4, down 2 cents; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.13 3/4, down 4 cents.

EU Grains Mostly A Little Firmer In Rebound From Lows

21/01/14 -- EU grains closed mostly a little firmer on a modest rebound from prices hitting contract lows in yesterday's trade.

Jan 14 London wheat ended GBP0.50/tonne higher at GBP150.50/tonne, although Nov 14 fell GBP0.50/tonne to GBP143.90/tonne. Mar 14 Paris wheat finished up EUR1.50/tonne to EUR192.25/tonne, Mar 14 Paris corn rose EUR1.25/tonne to EUR173.50/tonne, whilst Feb 14 Paris rapeseed fell EUR2.25/tonne to EUR359.00/tonne.

With America just waking up from a long weekend fresh news remained very thin on the ground.

Russia only bought 5,400 MT of grain for the intervention fund in it's first purchase of 2014. That make the total bought so far in 2013/14 to less than 550 TMT compared to an original government target of 5-6 MMT.

It will be interesting to see if that is the start of a trend,

SovEcon said that Russia would export 22 MMT of grains in 2013/14, up 35% versus 16.3 MMT a year previously.

They estimated Russia's Jan corn exports at 500 TMT in January versus the December record of 682 TMT, but still a very healthy amount.

Russia's Jan wheat exports will total 500-600 TMT versus 194 TMT a year ago. Their barley exports will total 50-90 TMT versus 53 TMT in 2012, they added

Kazakhstan'a Ag Ministry said Kazakhstan's 2013 grain crop was 18.98 MMT in clean weight versus the 2012 crop of only 12.90 MMT.

Again there is talk of FSU winter wheat being susceptible to winterkill due to a sudden drop in temperatures even though the majority of crops in the region are currently rated 92-95% good/satisfactory.

Temperatures in Paris look to be in the mid-40′s all week with light showers expected. Germany will dip down into the mid-30′s to low-40′s with a chance of light snow.

China said that it had imported 5.5 MMT of wheat in the 2013 calendar year, an increase of almost 50% versus the same period in 2012.

EU Wheat Sets Various Downside Records

20/01/14 -- EU grains were mostly lower in a quiet session with US markets closed for the Martin Luther King holiday.

Soon to expire front month Jan 14 London wheat closed GBP2.85/tonne lower at GBP150.00/tonne, whilst new crop Nov 14 ended the day down GBP0.35/tonne at GBP144.40/tonne. Mar 14 Paris wheat fell EUR1.00/tonne to EUR190.75/tonne, Mar 14 Paris corn was down EUR0.25/tonne at EUR172.25/tonne and Feb 14 Paris rapeseed rose EUR0.75/tonne to EUR361.75/tonne.

With the US closed, fresh news was relatively thin on the ground and the EU was left to paddle it's own canoe. Which particular creek it decided to go down depends on whether you are a bull or a bear. Suffice to say that the markets appeared to be playing catch-up with Chicago wheat which fell to fresh 3 1/2 year lows on Friday night.

The wheat screens went red on wheat straight after the bell and pretty much stayed there for the rest of the day. Both old crop Mar 14 and new crop Nov 14 London wheat traded at new contract lows. Jan 14 meanwhile closed at the lowest level for a front month since late 2011. In addition to those sorry set of records, Nov 14 Paris wheat matched the existing contract low of EUR182.00/tonne set way back at harvest time.

Egypt said that they now have enough wheat bought to last them until the first week in May, although statements like that don't normally count for much. They bought 295 TMT of wheat for Feb 15-28 shipment late last week, and will probably be back for March this week or next week, especially if prices continue to fall. Their own harvest is due to begin in April.

Algeria announced a tender for milling wheat for April shipment today. The tender was for optional origin, although French wheat is the customary favourite. They are estimated to have already bought around 4 MMT of French wheat this season.

Cheap FSU corn continues to head to Europe from Russia and Ukraine to replace wheat. Meanwhile competition for sales on the wheat export market remains quite fierce, as highlighted by the last Egyptian tender where less than $1.50 separated French, Russian, Ukraine and US wheat.

Russia said that they'd exported a record near 682 TMT of corn in December, up 15.7% from November and almost three times the volume shipped out in December 2012. Turkey was the top buyer, with EU destination Spain in second place.

The local Ag Ministry in Stavropol, one of Russia's leading wheat production regions, said that 98.8% of winter grains had emerged. They estimated that 43.9% of the crop in good condition, and rated a further 50.6% as satisfactory, leaving only 5.4% as poor.

The Ukraine Ag Ministry said that the country had exported 20.5 MMT of grains to Jan 17, an increase of 34% on last season. That total includes 11.33 MMT of corn, 6.94 MMT of wheat and 2.07 MMT of barley.

In addition, they've also exported 2 MMT of rapeseed and 0.8 MMT of soybeans, they added.

Bangladesh picked up a best price of $305.60 C&F from a Thai trading house in their wheat re-tender. Iraq saw a best offer of $334.78 CIFFO in their hard wheat tender. Australia was the cheapest origin by far. The best Canadian offer was $347 and the cheapest US offer was a couple of dollars dearer than that.

Oil World said that the EU crushed 10.3 MMT of rapeseed in the 5-months Jul/Nov 2013, a 4% rise on the same period in 2012. The EU sunflower crush was up 7.4% to 2.9 MMT and the EU soybean crush down 1.9% to 5.1 MMT, they added.

They're Going Down To The Start....

20/01/14 -- The Farmers Weekly are running their usual "there's not much news in January, so lets go for the tits and six pack route" by launching their 2014 Britain's Sexiest Farmer competition.

You can view this year's runners and riders here: Warning: May contain nuts

I've cast my eagle eye over this year's entrants, having had a degree of success in picking the winner of this competition in the past, and mark your card accordingly:

Penny "ding dong" Bell. Normally a solid and reliable jumper, although a difficult ride for an amateur. Even all the cows in the background are staring at her arse. Got to be in with a shout. 5/2

Elliot "interesting" Prior. Clearly a no-hoper. 50/1

Chall "snoozy" Parsons. 100/1 rank outsider.

Harry "six pack" Stanbury. Looks good in the paddock, but frequently disappoints in the race itself. One for the girls. Doesn't look very intelligent though our 'Arry does he? 10/1

Daniel "OK ya" Ward. Well bred. Daddy's got 10,000 acres, and I jolly well kissed a girl once. Bally nice it was too. Phnarr. phnarr. 16/1

Bethany "baby-faced" Deadman. Shows promise, but could be a bit inexperienced up against this field. Each way claims. 8/1

Matt "has anyone seen my brain" Stubbings. A gelding in denial. 16/1

Mary "W" Ankers. Dark horse, dark pic. She may do OK if they run this race with the floodlights on. 10/1

David "normal" Anderson. Up against it here. 25/1

Anthony "I'm too sexy for my pants" Cape. Nice helmet Anthony. Likes to come from behind apparently. 12/1

Peter "Grandad" Keeble. Last run out was 24 years ago. Still carrying a lot of condition and could be outpaced here. 500/1

Alice. A bit like Adele she only seems to go by her first name. Unlike Adele she isn't a munter set to carry 6 stone overweight though. Strong claims. 7/2

Rachel "sweet cheeks" Churches. Took a keen hold going down, before refusing at the last last time out. Only ran twice, but could be a lively outsider. 12/1

Alice "the baps". Hang on a minute. This looks like the same Alice as the last Alice. There's suddenly been a flood of "smart" money on Alice who's apparently been "laid out" for this all season. 7/4 fav

Flo "the hat". I'm sure she scrubs up well. But so far unraced this season. 16/1

Henry "the duck" Aylesbury. Well, the dogs seem to like him. It's probably the smell. The housewives choice, so has to be respected. 7/1

Robyn "innocent" Hale. A front-running headstrong sort who unseated her rider last time out. Chances. 12/1

Ed "I'm the one on the right". Another one of three geldings in the race. 33/1

Burt "bat-her-ass". Only been out once, and that was to shop for sweets. First time over the bigger obstacles. Must improve. 22/1

Daniel "the birds" Hitchcock. Usually sweats up before hand. A steady plodder who won't trouble the judges. 25/1

Nogger's forecast: Alice might just have a little too much class for most of these, although Penny - who jumps for fun and finished very strongly last time out - will certainly give her a run for her money. I'll take Henry The Duck to fill the minor placings.

Chicago Soybeans Hold Head Above Water As Corn And Wheat Sink

17/01/14 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed with modest gains, which was no mean feat considering the total lack of support from either corn or wheat. Informa forecast 2014 US soybean plantings at 81.264 million acres. That's a steep rise of over 6% versus last year's 76.533 million, when corn was the in vogue crop pushing plantings of that to a 75-year high, although it's actually a little lower than the 81.929 million estimated previously. With soybeans at over $13/bushel and corn again looking like it might test the $4/bushel level why would US farmers not plant beans? OK, the new crop price difference isn't quite that large, but it's still a ratio of 2.5:1 based on Nov beans versus Dec corn tonight. Very strong demand for US beans on the export front sees 26.6 MMT shipped already this season and a further 14.9 MMT sold and waiting to go. That's total commitments of 41.5 MMT versus the current USDA forecast for full season exports of 40.7 MMT. Instead of the market talking about Chinese cancellations being likely, it may be that "needed" would be a better word to use. Strong demand for meal keeps domestic US usage of soybeans robust also. Talking of which, Bunge this week announced that they were closing a soybean processing facility in southern Rio Grande do Sul state, saying Brazil's tax structure favours the export of raw soybeans instead. Yesterday's weekly export sales numbers revealed US meal sales well above market expectations at 234,700 MT. Sales of only 86,000 MT are needed per week to reach the USDA's forecast for the season. There's some much-needed rain in the forecast over the weekend and into early next week for Argentina. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said that soybean planting there is now 96.2% complete. Weather conditions in Brazil look generally favourable, with a record crop there surely on the way. Yet again though, a record crop might also equal record logistical problems and record shipping delays once the harvest and export program get into full swing. Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.16 1/2, up 1 1/2 cents; May 14 Soybeans closed at $12.97 1/4, up 1 cent; Mar 14 Soybean Meal closed at $434.50, up $2.50; Mar 14 Soybean Oil closed at 37.74, down 31 points. For the week that puts Mar 14 beans up 12 3/4 cents, with meal down 70 cents and oil falling 21 points.

Corn: The corn market closed around 3 to 4 cents lower. Informa suggested that US farmers will plant 93.319 million acres of corn this spring. That's a fall of "only" a little over 2% from last year's 75-year high of 95.365 million acres. That's quite a modest reduction given that US corn values fell by 40% last year. It is also significantly higher than the 91.846 million than Informa had previously estimated. This may be a function of less wheat getting planted in the US for the 2014 harvest - as forecast last week by the USDA and today agreed with by Informa. It may also signal that many US farmers just can't bring themselves not to plant corn. A "my Daddy always planted corn, and so did my Grand Daddy," sort of thing. On the export front, the USDA today announced 204,000 MT of US corn sold to Egypt for 2013/14 shipment under the daily reporting system. As of yesterday's weekly export sales report the US had shipped 12.6 MMT of corn so far this season, with a further 16.9 MMT of outstanding sales. That takes total net commitments to 29.5 MMT versus the USDA's forecast for the season of 37 MMT. That means that total shipments plus sales are currently around 80% of the USDA forecast for 2013/14 versus a 5-year average of around 60%. That's pretty good, but note that the shipped/unshipped proportion is a lot different to that of soybeans. Also note that it's US corn purchases that China are currently cancelling, not those of soybeans. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said that Argentine corn planting is 86% complete versus 82.8% a week ago and 93.4% a year ago. Argentine customs data shows that the country exported 20.2 MMT of corn in the first 11 months of 2013 - an 18% increase on the same period in 2012. The largest home was South Korea, traditionally a big buyer of US corn, taking in excess of 2.3 MMT. The weather forecast for Argentina looks a bit more promising. Talk that another polar vortex is expected to drop into the eastern Corn Belt by the end of the month may support the nearby cash market as it would again hinder movement of grains. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.24, down 4 cents; May 14 Corn closed at $4.31 3/4, down 3 3/4 cents. For the week Mar 14 corn was down 8 3/4 cents with May 14 down 9 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed 5 to 9 cents lower on the day across the three exchanges. CBOT wheat set a fresh 3 1/2 year low for a front month on nearby Mar 14. Wheat's premium over corn is the main problem, but one that could ultimately also be it's salvation. Like the old adage "the cure for high prices is high prices" then maybe the cure for "nobody wants to buy wheat" is simply "so I won't plant it" then? Informa cut their forecast for US winter wheat plantings for the 2014 harvest from the 43.09 million acres planted last year to 41.892 million - very similar to last week's USDA number. Informa looks for all US wheat plantings to be just over 55.8 million acres, down from the USDA's 2013 area estimate of 56.2 million, with the spring wheat area falling by almost a million acres to 12.1 million. US winter wheat on the southern Plains, parts of Texas panhandle and western Kansas have seen less than 50% of normal moisture since the middle of October, raising production concerns there. India continue to be a thorn in the side for wheat bulls though, tendering to sell 120,000 MT for Feb-March shipment. There could easily be a lot more to come waiting in the wings from them, with a record 100 MMT crop said to be on the way this year. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said that the wheat harvest there is complete, estimating this year's production at 10.1 MMT, up 1.3 MMT on last year after good yields from the later harvest boosted final output. After a very mild spell, Southern Russia and Ukraine are trending colder than normal over the next couple of weeks. There's been quite a bit of talk of the potential for damage to winter wheat here lately, due to inadequate snow cover. The latest forecasts however also show precipitation of 150-300% of normal for the region for the period through to early February. Tunisia bought 100,000 MT of soft milling wheat, 109,000 MT of durum wheat and 75,000 MT of feed barley in various tenders - all of optional origin and for Feb/Mar shipment. Europe is the most likely supplier as exports here continue at a brisk pace. Germany will likely ship 250,000 MT of wheat to Iran this month, say Reuters. Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.63 1/2, down 9 1/4 cents; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.23 1/4, down 6 1/4 cents; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.18 1/2, down 5 1/2 cents. For the week Chicago wheat lost 5 1/2 cents, with Kansas gaining 2 3/4 cents and Minneapolis down by 2 cents.