London Wheat Down To Lowest Since Late 2011 - Sterling Strength Weighs

31/01/14 -- It was a mixed end to a mixed week for EU grains - a week in which London wheat closed below GBP150.00/tonne for the first time on a front month since late 2011 and Chicago wheat hit it's lowest since July 2010.

Mar 14 London wheat closed GBP0.40/tonne lower at GBP149.50/tonne, whilst new crop Nov 14 was unchanged at GBP142.75/tonne and within spitting distance of the lifetime contract low of GBP140.00/tonne set earlier in the week.

Paris contracts by comparison had a jolly old time, with Mar 14 wheat closing EUR2.25/tonne higher at EUR192.50/tonne, rebounding from a mere 4-month closing low set on Wednesday. Mar 14 Paris corn up EUR1.25/tonne to EUR173.50/tonne and Feb 14 Paris rapeseed going off the board EUR2.50/tonne higher at EUR369.00/tonne.

For the week, London wheat lost GBP2.45/tonne on the front month, and GBP1.20/tonne on the Nov 14, whilst Paris wheat was only down a quarter of a euro. Paris corn rose EUR0.75/tonne and Paris rapeseed jumped EUR11.00/tonne.

Part of the reason for the better performance by Paris wheat to it's London and Chicago counterparts is euro weakness. The pound sits close to it's best levels in a year against the single currency, closing close to the 1.22 mark this evening. It also set a 32-month high against the dollar last week as some analysts begin to bring their forecasts for when UK interest rats will start to rise again to Q4 of this year.

The euro has also fallen from over 1.37 to less than 1.35 against the dollar during the course of this week.

Despite that decline, the USDA today reported the sale of 110 TMT of US corn to Spain - the second such sale of the week. One reason for that could be logistical problems caused by the deep freeze currently hitting the Black Sea, and/or maybe political turmoil and civil unrest in Ukraine. Reuters also reported today that the major Russian sea port of Novorossiisk was closed due to high winds, where gusts were reaching over 70 mph.

Whilst the pace of EU wheat exports remains strong, and that should be helped further by a weaker euro, the market is still fretting a little over Egypt's move to lower moisture levels on wheat imports to 13% - virtually ruling out this year's French wheat crop from making any further inroads into the world's largest wheat buyer. It maybe says something about how much wheat is offered on the international market when even cash-strapped Egypt can suddenly start to be fussy again.

A Reuters poll asking where Chicago wheat prices might end the year came up with an average trade guess of $5.73/bushel, which isn't much changed from where we are now at around 20 cents below tonight's close on the Mar 15 future - which will be the front month then.

In the week ahead there's not too much market news coming our way that we know of. Tuesday sees the release of the Stats Canada Dec 31st grain stocks report, and these are expected to be well up on year ago levels due to the bumper 2013 Canadian harvest. Thursday bring the UK cereals usage data from Defra. The big one is the USDA February world supply and demand report, that's due a week on Monday - Feb 10th.

Chicago Market Rebounds, But Only Modestly

30/01/14 -- Soycomplex: Beans managed to recover some of yesterday's losses as weekly export sales trumped expectations of around 5-600 TMT coming in at a net 494,800 MT of old crop and a further 371,000 MT of new crop. Some had been suggesting that old crop sales could be negative. China was confirmed as a buyer of 251,300 MT of the old crop, including 233,000 MT switched from unknown destinations, whilst "unknown" showed up with an overall net decrease of 610,300 MT. Actual soybean shipments themselves were in excess of 2.1 MMT - a ten week high and now total 30.2 MMT. Outstanding sales are nearly 12.4 MMT, taking total commitments to 42.6 MMT - already beating the USDA target for the entire season of 40.7 MMT. So the US now has nearly 105% of the USDA's projected export total committed, and 74% of the target has already been shipped. Agroconsult said Brazil’s 2013/14 bean crop could easily top 90 MMT. Good early yields are being reported in Mato Grosso. Brazil are said to have now loaded their first new crop soybean cargo destined for China, and are projecting shipping 2.5 MMT out in February, which would be a record volume for the month. Some reports suggest that Argentine farmers till carrying old crop beans may be forced to sell them before the harvest starts to pay taxes and input costs. Chinese and Malaysian markets will be closed tomorrow and Monday. The IGC forecast the world soybean crop at a record 288 MMT in 2013/14, up 3 MMT from last time and up 6% versus 271 MMT last season. Consumption however was also increased 3 MMT, leaving ending stocks unchanged at 29 MMT. The world canola/rapeseed crop is seen up 11% year-on-year due to Canada's bumper year, with ending stocks rising 58% versus 2012/13. Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $12.75, up 5 3/4 cents; May 14 Soybeans closed at $12.61, up 4 1/4 cents; Mar 14 Soybean Meal closed at $425.20, up $1.90; Mar 14 Soybean Oil closed at 37.07, down 3 points,

Corn: The corn market closed around 4-6 cents firmer, supported by old crop weekly export sales of 1,837,900 MT, which were up noticeably from the previous week and from the prior 4-week average. There were also net sales of 105,700 MT for 2014/15. Trade expectations were only for sales of around 6-900 TMT. Japan was the biggest buyer taking 797,800 MT of the old crop. Weekly shipments just topped 1 MMT, with no sign of China as the MIR 162 dispute rumbles on. The US now has 14.3 MMT of corn already shipped this season, with a further 17.6 MMT on the books waiting to go. That takes total commitments to 31.9 MMT versus the USDA's target for the season of 37 MMT, or 86% of that aim. The five year average for this time is only around 62%. In addition, the USDA announced 127,000 MT of US corn sold to unknown for 2013/14 delivery under the daily reporting system. The IGC raised their world 2013/14 corn production estimate by 9 MMT from last month to 959 MMT, which is 98 MMT more than a year ago - a hike of 11.4%. Consumption was also raised, but not by as much, and falls below global production levels by 31 MMT. World ending stocks are now seen at 158 MMT, 24.4% up on last season. The EU granted 358 TMT worth of corn import licenses this past week, taking the marketing year to date total to 7.1 MMT versus 6.6 MMT this time a year ago. The weather outlook in South America looks largely non threatening, but has irreversible damage already been done in Argentina? Only time will tell. Brazil's soybean harvest is slightly behind schedule, which may be delaying second crop corn planting a little. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.33 1/2, up 6 cents; May 14 Corn closed at $4.39 1/2, up 5 1/2 cents

Wheat: The wheat market closed mostly a little firmer, but it was far from an impressive turnaround following new multi-year lows set yesterday. Weekly export sales of 794,900 MT for delivery during the 2013/14 marketing year were up 89 percent from the previous week. Japan (174,800 MT), South Korea (162,400 MT), Nigeria (125,700 MT), the Philippines (98,000 MT, including 23,000 MT switched from unknown destinations) and Taiwan (74,000 MT) were the main buyers. Actual shipments came in at 422,000 MT. Shipments to date now total 20.9 MMT, with a further 5.3 MMT outstanding, taking net commitments to 26.2 MMT which is 86% of the USDA's target of 30.5 MMT for the season. MDA CropCast hiked their forecast for the 2014/15 Indian wheat crop by a hefty 5.9 MMT from just last week, now pegging production there at 97.4 MMT, a 6.45% jump on last year. Some think that output could actually reach 100 MMT or more. India sold 150 TMT of its 2013/14 surplus wheat to Bangladesh today. Japan bought 179 TMT of a mixture of US and Australian wheat. Jordan are tendering fro 100,000 MT each of milling wheat and feed barley of optional origin. Stats Canada come out on Tuesday with their Dec 31st stocks estimates. A Reuters survey has all wheat stocks estimated at 28.9 MMT - a 22 year high and up 40% from a year ago. Barley stocks are estimated at 7.1 MMT - up 35% from a year ago. The IGC estimated the 2013/14 global wheat crop at 707 MMT, up 9 MMT from their previous forecast and nearly 8% up on a year ago. They actually dropped consumption by 1 MMT from last month to 691 MMT, taking ending stocks up by 7 MMT to 188 MMT - an 8.7% jump versus last season. The world 2014/15 wheat crop was tentatively estimated at 697 MMT, a 1% drop on this year as yields return closer to average. Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.53 1/2, up 2 cents; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.10 3/4, up 2 cents; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.97 1/4, down 3/4 cent.

Old Crop London Wheat Posts First Sub-GBP150 Close Since 2011

30/01/14 -- EU grains finished mixed but mostly a little higher, attempting to rebound from yesterday's lows. Things closed with Mar 14 London wheat ending down GBP0.35/tonne at GBP149.90/tonne (the first close on a front month below GBP150.00/tonne since late 2011), whilst new crop Nov 14 London wheat closed GBP0.50/tonne firmer at GBP142.75/tonne.

Mar 14 Paris wheat was EUR0.25/tonne firmer at EUR190.25/tonne, Mar 14 Paris corn was up EUR0.50/tonne to EUR172.50/tonne, whilst Feb 14 Paris rapeseed closed EUR3.25/tonne higher at EUR366.50/tonne.

Front month Chicago, Minneapolis and Kansas wheat all set fresh contract lows yesterday.

The Met Office said that parts of the south of England have endured their wettest January on records going back more than 100 years.

The south east and south central areas averaged over 175 mm of rainfall this month, surpassing the previous wettest ever January total of 158.2 mm set in 1988. Meanwhile, the average temperature across the UK was 4.9 C in January, some 1.2 C higher than the norm.

As a whole, the UK had an average 164.6 mm of rain this month (to Jan 28), some 35% above normal. The main reason for the mild and wet weather so far was a predominance of west and south-west winds, bringing in mild air from the Atlantic, the Met Office said.

Exactly how much, if any, impact this will have on UK crop production this year remains to be seen. Does rain really make grain, as the old adage suggests?

And when is it all going to end? Unfortunately, BBC Weather presenter Nick Miller said that the long-range forecast suggested there was "no prolonged dry spell in sight".

MDA CropCast raised their Indian wheat production estimate by 5.9 MMT from last week to a record 97.4 MMT, a 6.45% increase on last year. Some forecasts are as high as 100 MMT.

Jordan are tendering for 100 TMT each of wheat and barley of optional origin for May-June shipment.

The Russian Deputy Ag Minister said that he expects the 2014 grain crop there to be around 95 MMT in his first estimate for the coming season. Everything is "normal" for now, he said. Recent heavy snowfalls have provided both Russian and Ukraine winter wheat with the protection from plunging temperatures that they required.

Defra said yesterday that the UK barley supply and demand balance is now 2.529 MMT, 83% higher compared with last season. With an operating stock requirement of 713 TMT, this means that the surplus available for export or to carry over as free stock now stands at 1.816 MMT. Cumulative barley exports for the season to end of November were "only" 636 TMT.

The UK wheat operating stock is seen at 1.48 MMT, meaning that the surplus available for export or free stock is slightly higher than forecast previously at 400 TMT. To the end of November only 167 TMT of UK wheat had been exported.

UK corn imports meanwhile are forecast at 1.726 MMT. As at the end of November 2013, cumulative imports had reached 739 TMT for the season, with a steep increase seen in November. This shift occurred due to corn entering the UK following the initial harvest delays in France and Ukraine. Corn usage in animal feed is seen at 1.762 MMT (13% higher than in 2012/13), they added.

Late in the day, Brussels reported that they'd issued 609 TMT of soft wheat export licences this past week, taking the marketing year to date total to 17.3 MMT.

Chicago Market Slumps, With Wheat At New Lows

29/01/14 -- Soycomplex: Beans fell hard on a combination of risk aversion, the impending huge South American crop and yet more Chinese cancellation talk. Argentine weather suddenly looks more co-operative, and if anything they could now do with a bit less rain in Brazil where the soybean harvest pace in Mato Grosso has slowed, hindered by persistent showers. "According to the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea), the soybean crop in the state is approximately 6% harvested, which is 2% slower than last year at this time," said Dr Cordonnier. The USDA's attaché in Brazil estimated the 2013/14 soybean crop at a record 89.5 MMT versus the official USDA estimate of 89.0 MMT and the 2012/13 crop of 81.6 MMT. The attaché estimated Brazil's 2013/14 bean exports at a record 46.0 MMT, which is 2 MMT more than the USDA's own forecast. Argentina producers are still not selling old crop or new crop soybeans until the dust settles around the rapidly weakening peso. There's talk of a possible hike in the soybean export tax too. "If the government begins to enact measures to entice or even force sales, this could be a very bearish development on the market," said one commentator. Some are saying that tomorrow's weekly export sales report could be in negative territory for old crop beans due to Chinese cancellations. The US has been busy selling new cop beans lately. Trade estimates for export sales for both marketing years tomorrow are around 500-600 TMT. Chinese markets are closed Friday and Monday due to Lunar New Year celebrations. Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $12.69 1/4, down 16 1/4 cents; May 14 Soybeans closed at $12.56 3/4, down 14 1/4 cents; Mar 14 Soybean Meal closed at $423.30, down $5.30; Mar 14 Soybean Oil closed at 37.10, down 30 points.

Corn: The corn market closed around 4 cents lower amidst a general malaise in the grain markets. The current deep freeze hitting the Midwest is keeping producer selling light and restricting the movement of grains however. Temperatures are forecast to moderate a little by the end of the week, but storms could bring up to 6 inches of snow for some. Reuters reported that Canada's record 14.2 MMT corn crop is making it as far afield as Ireland. In fact, of the volume shipped abroad in the first five months of 2013/14 nearly three-quarters of it headed for Ireland, according to the Canadian Grain Commission. Ukraine seem to be having a few problems with weather-related logistics, maybe that is why the US picked up a 110 TMT sale to Spain yesterday? The US Energy Dept reported weekly ethanol production at 900,000 barrels/day, down 5,000 bpd on the previous week. Around 924,000 bpd is what is required to hit the USDA projection for the season. Stocks also declined to 16.9 million barrels from 17.0 million last week. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report are in the 600-900 TMT region for corn. An improved weather outlook for Argentina may help corn a bit, but is likely to be more beneficial for soybeans it is thought. The trade is watching and waiting for any action from the Argentine government to "encourage" a pick up in farmer selling. There's talk that bird flu in China is spreading. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.27 1/2, down 4 1/2 cents; May 14 Corn closed at $4.34, down 4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market crashed between 7 and 14 cents lower on the day across the three exchanges. Front month Mar 14 CBOT wheat displayed the most weakness closing at the lowest level since July 2010 on the continuous chart. An improved US weather outlook, a moderation in temperatures and chances of snow removed some of the winterkill talk. Japan bought 150 TMT of feed barley via a tender for Feb – March shipment. Bangladesh bought 150,000 TMT of Indian wheat. US wheat was easily the cheapest offer put up on an FOB basis in yesterday's Egyptian tender, but they still only bought one cargo of US SRW. The US offer was matched by Russian wheat when freight was added on. There were no Ukraine offers. It's difficult to know if that was because they are sold out, or due to the civil unrest going on there at the moment. There were no Romanian offers either. The move to lower the maximum moisture requirement to 13% could provide a boost for US wheat to make further inroads in future GASC tenders. Egypt’s Supply Minister said that their wheat reserves are now sufficient to last until May. Regardless, they may well be back in the market again next week, or even over the weekend after today's price slump. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report are 350-550 TMT. Minneapolis wheat set another new contract low for the third session in a row today, closing below $6/bushel. Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.51 1/2, down 14 1/2 cents; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.08 3/4, down 13 1/4 cents; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.98, down 7 cents.

EU Grains Fall On Outside Influences, Egypt News

29/01/14 -- EU grains closed mostly lower on outside market jitters. The recent collapse of Argentine peso and Turkish lira, ahead of a Fed announcement later today that is expected to say that they are to further reign in stimulus for the US economy, sparked a bit of a flight to safety.

Mar 14 London wheat ended GBP2.60/tonne lower at GBP150.25/tonne, and new crop Nov 14 slipped GBP2.25/tonne to GBP142.25/tonne. Mar 14 Paris wheat stumbled EUR2.75/tonne to EUR190.00/tonne, Mar 14 Paris corn also slipped EUR1.50/tonne to EUR171.75/tonne, whilst Feb 14 Paris rapeseed managed a EUR0.25/tonne gain to EUR363.25/tonne.

The Turkish Central Bank raised overnight interest rates from 7.75 percent to 12 percent at an emergency late night meeting in an effort to try to reduce inflation and boost the lira, which had previously fallen to record lows. They also more than doubled the one-week deposit rate to 10 percent from 4.5 percent.

The Argentine peso meanwhile is in free fall, falling around 14% in just one day last week, after their Central Bank stopped supporting the currency as its foreign exchange reserves dwindle.

Widespread civil unrest in Ukraine and Thailand is also unsettling investors nerves, ones that are already fretting over a slow down in Chinese growth.

The end result of all that seems to be increased risk aversion.

French wheat was also under pressure in the aftermath of Egypt's decision to lower the maximum moisture level in this week's tender from 13.5% to 13.0%. Much of the wheat currently in store in Rouen is said to be in the 13.5-14.0% range.

The France Export Cereales lobby group said that they will appeal to Egypt to rethink their strategy, but for now French wheat seems to be effectively excluded from future GASC tenders.

The arrival of winter in Ukraine seems to be causing some disruption to grains movements and loading at the ports. Grain exports are currently up 34% on last year at almost 21 MMT at the moment, and are expected to reach 32.5 MMT for the full season versus only 23 MMT in 2012/13. The 2013 grain harvest was a record 63 MMT in bunker weight, up 36% on 2012's 46.2 MMT.

The Russian Ministry only managed to pick up 7 TMT of grains for it's intervention fund today in it's twice-weekly purchase. Volumes have been very light since they resumed buying for the fund after the Christmas and New Year break. They do however continue to find wheat to export, as confirmed again in yesterday's Egyptian tender. They've exported over 17 MMT of grains in 2013/14 so far (to Jan 19), a rise of 31.6% on last season.

There's some debate as to the possible impact of the arrival of colder weather in Europe for wheat that hasn't become fully hardened due to the thus far mild winter. Talk of possible winterkill issues for unprotected wheat in the US is also doing the rounds as temperatures dip to -20C in some areas.

The HGCA tweaked their 2013/14 UK supply and demand balance sheet, increasing wheat imports to 1.63 MMT, although that's still a decrease of 45% on last season. That could still be a little low as customs data shows wheat imports of 1.18 MMT by the end of November.

Human and Industrial UK wheat consumption was revised lower, to just under 7.5 MMT, due to reduced flour production and lower demand from the wildcard bioethanol industry. UK corn imports were increased to 1.726 MMT.

Chicago Markets Narrowly Mixed

28/01/14 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed narrowly mixed, with yesterday's news that weekly export inspections came in at a whopping near 74 million bushels continuing to lend support. Shipments only need to average 12 million bushels/week to reach the USDA projection for the 2013/14 marketing year. Talk of potential Chinese cancellations remains just talk, they took 46 million bushels of this week's total themselves. The domestic US crush is also supportive, up 2.5% year on year in the Oct/Dec period, according to NOPA. Acute weakness in the Argentine peso means that growers there continue to hoard beans. The peso fell 16% against the dollar last week alone, and the central bank are now said to be so short of funds that they can't continue to support it. Chinese industry analysts estimate their Jan bean imports at 5.39 MMT, falling to 4.75 MMT in Feb. Their Lunar New Year celebrations start at the end of the week. Oil World forecast the global soybean crop at 287.8 MMT this year, up slightly from a previous estimate of 287.6 MMT and up 7.75% versus the 2012/13 crop of 267.1 MMT. Brazil's crop was estimated at 89.5 MMT versus 89 MMT previously. Argentina's was cut from 55.5 MMT to 54 MMT. China's import requirement was seen at 70 MMT. Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $12.85 1/2, down 2 1/4 cents; May 14 Soybeans closed at $12.71, unchanged; Mar 14 Soybean Meal closed at $428.60, down $2.30; Mar 14 Soybean Oil closed at 37.40, up 34 points.

Corn: The corn market closed barely changed and in a very narrow trading range. The USDA announced 110 TMT of US corn sold to Spain for 2013/14 shipment. Anecdotal reports out of Argentina suggest that the recent rains may have come a little too late for corn. In the US freezing cold weather is encouraging increased livestock feeding, reduced producer selling, and causing a potential short-term slowdown in movement of grains due to iced-up waterways. In addition "livestock producers have seen propane prices skyrocket as high consumption this winter has sharply diminished supplies. Minnesota is the leading US turkey state. Young turkeys require 90 F (32 C) while the full-sized birds need 45-50 F to develop normally, livestock producers say. If the heat goes down, turkeys become stressed and are prone to illness. Propane providers claim that in some areas only a 5-day supply of propane exists, due to strong demand and rapid consumption," said Martell Crop Projections. The US Energy Dept will report on the weekly US ethanol grind tomorrow. Last week's production was 905,000 barrels/day. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.32, up 1/4 cent; May 14 Corn closed at $4.38, unchanged.

Wheat: The wheat market was also narrowly mixed across the three exchanges. Egypt bought one 60 TMT cargo of US SRW wheat in their latest tender, along with 180 TMT of Russian wheat. GASC's decision to cut the maximum moisture level permitted from 13.5% to 13.0% makes it more difficult for French wheat, but US and Russian wheat apparently found this not to be a problem. It's looking like Ukraine may have just about shipped all it's wheat and is now going to concentrate on marketing it's record corn crop. Japan seeks 179,343 MT of wheat for March shipment. Talk of possible damage to US wheat in the Midwest and Plains continues amidst the second hard freeze of the month. "Overwintering wheat may have suffered damage from the bitter cold, especially where winds have blown fields bare exposing wheat to the wind and cold. Kansas has received snow from time to time this winter. Periodic thaws have also occurred, melting away that protective snow," said Martell Crop Projections. Updated forecasts show the coldest temperatures for the western plains with some suggesting about 25% of the Kansas crop may be impacted. Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.66, up 2 1/2 cents; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.22, down 1/2 cent; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.05, down 1 1/2 cents.

EU Grains Mixed, Egypt Snubs French Wheat

28/01/14 -- EU grains were mixed, with Mar 14 London wheat up GBP0.35/tonne at GBP152.85/tonne, whilst new crop Nov 14 was GBP0.25/tonne higher at GBP144.50/tonne. Mar 14 Paris wheat fell EUR1.50/tonne to EUR192.75/tonne, Mar 14 Paris corn was down EUR0.25/tonne at EUR173.25/tonne and Feb 14 Paris rapeseed was EUR2.50/tonne higher at EUR363.00/tonne.

French wheat fell as Egypt bought Russian and US wheat in it's latest tender.

GASC dropped the maximum moisture level it would accept from 13.5% to 13.0%, and there was only one offer of French wheat that was able to meet that criteria - and that was too expensive.

The trade is now pondering if the means that the Egyptian door is effectively closed to French wheat now for the rest of the season.

Egypt bought 180 TMT of Russian wheat and 60 TMT of US material, taking the total volume purchased in January to in excess of 1 MMT.

Ukraine said that it had exported 20.9 MMT of grains so far this season, an increase of 34% on last year, including nearly 7 MMT of wheat, over 2 MMT of barley and approaching 12 MMT of corn. They've also shipped 2.8 MMT of oilseeds so far this season, with rapeseed exports topping 2 MMT.

Snow and ice is now said to be affecting the movement of grains in Ukraine.

The second sharp blast of Arctic air is also causing logistical problems in the US as barge traffic slows.

Spain bought 110 TMT of US corn, the USDA announced today.

Algeria are tendering for wheat, with French origin the normal favourite.

Russia bought 18,900 MT of grains for it's intervention fund, taking the total purchased so far to 576,315 MT - far below the originally intended 5-6 MMT.

Chicago Mixed, South American Soybean Harvest Progressing

27/01/14 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed mixed, up a little nearby and down a little further forward. The nears were supported by huge weekly export inspections of almost 74 million bushels. That far outstripped market expectations of 50-58 million. Where are all the anticipated Chinese cancellations? Recall that as of last week the US had already sold 104% of the USDA's target for the season and shipped 69% of it. The USDA also announced 183,000 MT of US beans sold to unknown for 2014/15 shipment. The spectre of a monster South American crop still weighs on the further forward positions, as too does ideas that US growers will "go large" with soybean plantings this spring and potentially also produce a record crop of their own. Santos-based shipping agents SA Commodities said that Brazil has 650 TMT of soybeans ready to ship this week, along with an export schedule of around 2.5 MMT in February. Last February they shipped less than 1 MMT. Safras e Mercado said that the Brazilian bean crop is 3% harvested, similar to a year ago. They estimated the Brazilian bean crop at a record 91.8 MMT (and almost 3 MMT more than the USDA's current forecast), and pegged bean exports at 46.0 MMT. In Brazil's top producing state of Mato Grosso the bean harvest is said to be 5.8% complete. The plummeting value of the Argentine peso means that Argentine farmers are supposedly still holding 8.4 MMT of old crop soybeans - 5 times the volume of a year ago. Lanworth estimated the 2014 US soybean crop at a record 96.5 MMT, up 7 MMT on last year. Ag Canada estimated the 2014 soybean crop there at 4.9 MMT versus 5.2 MMT last year. They see the 2014 canola crop at 16.0 MMT versus 18.0 MMT last year despite a 0.7 million hectare rise in plantings to 8.7 million. Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $12.87 3/4, up 3 cents; May 14 Soybeans closed at $12.71, up 1 cent; Mar 14 Soybean Meal closed at $430.90, up $5.20; Mar 14 Soybean Oil closed at 37.06, down 48 points and a new 3 1/2 year low for a front month.

Corn: The corn market closed a couple of cents firmer. Weekly export inspections of 28.701 million bushels weren't as impressive as those for beans, but were at the top end of the expected 23-28 million. Also adding a bit of support was the news that the USDA announced 119,888 MT of US corn sold to unknown for 2013/14 shipment. As the Brazilian soybean harvest gathers pace, "safrinha" corn plantings in Mato Grosso are said to be 3.8% complete versus 2.8% a year ago. Ag Canada estimated the 2014 corn crop there at 13.1 MMT versus last year's crop of 14.2 MMT. Lanworth forecast the 2014 US corn crop at 358 MMT, a surprising 4 MMT rise on last year. They see Chinese production in 2014 at 221.84 MMT. APK Inform said that Ukraine had shipped 674 TMT of grains in the week through to Jan 26, and 95% of that total - 643 TMT - was corn. Algeria were said to have bought 20,000 MT of Ukrainian corn for March shipment. Russia were said to have exported 218 TMT of corn in the Jan 1-19 timeframe. Argentine weather has improved, with rains over the weekend and more in the forecast for this week. "Argentina crops got a lift from strong showers last week, but damage was incurred by heat and moisture stress previously. Drenching rains in Argentina last week gave corn and soybeans a welcome boost where rainfall was heavy, exceeding 2 inches. Eastern Argentina benefited most from heavy soaking rains. The western farm belt received localised heavy rainfall also. Drought was not entirely quenched in Cordoba and western Buenos Aires," said Martell Crop Projections. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.31 3/4, up 2 1/4 cents; May 14 Corn closed at $4.38, up 2 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed lower as weekly export inspections of only 14.037 million bushels disappointed and fell at the low end of the expected 14-19 million. Saudi Arabia bought 715 TMT of mostly hard wheat over the weekend. Approved origins included US wheat, but were non-specific. India said that farmers there had planted a record 31.48 million acres of short-cycle wheat for the 2014 harvest that is due to begin only two months from now. That's a sharp 6.3% rise on last year when wheat production was 92.4 MMT. No wonder then that they are forecasting a record 100 MMT crop this year. Weather conditions in India are said to be good, with plenty of rain in the major producing areas in the north west. Russia said that they'd exported 639 TMT of grains in the Jan 1-19 period, of which 381 TMT was wheat. Total Russian grain exports in 2013/14 so far are now in excess of 17 MMT, a 31.6% rise on a year ago when full season exports only amounted to 15.69 MMT. Canada said that they'd exported almost 312 TMT of wheat in the week through to Jan 19, taking the marketing year to date total to just over 9 MMT versus 8.2 MMT a year ago. Ag Canada forecast the 2014 all wheat crop there at 29.7 MMT versus the record 2013 crop of 37.5 MMT. They see 2014/15 wheat exports increasing however to 22.2 MMT versus 2013/14 exports of 21.9 MMT. The UN bought 19,000 MT of Ukrainian wheat for Djibouti for Feb shipment. Lanworth forecast the 2014 EU all wheat crop at 146.7 MMT, with production in Ukraine at just over 22 MMT and Chinese output at 122.7 MMT. There's still speculation that another US deep freeze may cause some winterkill problems for wheat in the Midwest and Plains. Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.63 1/2, down 1 3/4 cents; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.22 1/2, down 4 3/4 cents; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.06 1/2, down 6 1/2 cents.

EU Grains Mostly Higher To Start The Week

27/01/14 -- EU grains finished mostly higher, with Mar 14 London wheat ending up GBP0.55/tonne at GBP152.50/tonne, whilst new crop Nov 14 London wheat closed GBP0.30/tonne firmer at GBP144.25/tonne.

Mar 14 Paris wheat was EUR01.50/tonne firmer at EUR194.25/tonne, Mar 14 Paris corn was up EUR0.75/tonne to EUR173.50/tonne, whilst Feb 14 Paris rapeseed closed EUR2.50/tonne higher at EUR360.50/tonne.

The hitherto relatively benign weather means that the hardening of winter cereals is significantly delayed in western and central Europe, according to the EU Commission's MARS unit.

"Since mid-December, most of Europe experienced an exceptionally mild period with a 2 to 7°C positive thermal anomaly, slowing down or delaying the hardening process from Ireland to Poland. A decrease in frost tolerance has even be observed in southern France, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and some other areas of the Balkan Peninsula where a large part of the crops is only slightly hardened, they said.

"Little or no low-temperature tolerance has been reached in the coastal region of the Mediterranean Sea. On the other hand, weather conditions in Russia, most of Ukraine and Belarus where sufficiently cold to allow for the full or almost full hardening of winter crops.

"The weather forecast until the beginning of February indicates a significant temperature decrease in central and eastern Europe. Consequently, winter cereals are likely to complete the hardening process in the Baltic countries, Belarus, southern Ukraine and most of Poland and the Czech Republic. Frost tolerance is also expected to increase significantly in eastern regions of Germany as well as in Austria, Hungary, Romania and countries of the Balkan Peninsula.

"No frost kill has been simulated in Europe so far, thanks to the warmer-than-usual weather conditions," they added.

Saudi Arabia booked 715 TMT of EU/US/Australian/South American wheat in their tender over the weekend, adding some support to the market.

Lanworth Inc forecast the EU-28 2014 wheat crop at 146.7 MMT, an increase of 2.4% on last year. The French crop will rise by 2 MMT to 40.5 MMT they estimate.

Despite a decrease in plantings for 2014, the Ukraine wheat crop will rise from 22.0 MMT to 22.08 MMT, they say. That's in line with expectations from UkrAgroConsult, who say that better yields will offset a reduced acreage this year.

The Ukraine Hydrometeorlogical Centre say that recent heavy frosts will not have caused any crop damage due to sufficient snow coverage.

APK Inform say that Ukraine exported 674 TMT of grains in the week through to Jan 26, of that volume 95% was corn.