The Morning Vibe - Nogger Style

08/05/15 -- The overnight grains are little changed in early trade, although beans, corn and wheat all showed significant losses at last night's close in Chicago.

The pound is sharply higher early doors as it looks like Big Dave will get another shot at government. That might not help London wheat too much when that drags it's sorry arse out of bed later on.

Talking of which, did you see how poor old May 15 Paris wheat got on yesterday? Lordy, lordy! What a right royal pasting that took, it had it's dinner money taken off it, it's head flushed down the toilet several times and then it was tied to the railings with it's underpants round it's ankles with "I love Nick Clegg" written across it's chest in pink lipstick.

It's not been a good year as far as credibility is concerned for the Paris wheat contract has it?

The frenetic EU wheat export pace appears to be slowing. Brussels only issued 273 TMT worth of soft wheat export licences this past week, down from 587 TMT the previous week. Still, season to date exports now stand at 28 MMT, up 11% versus 25.2 MMT a year ago. The problem is that even at that record pace carryover stocks will still be sharply higher than they were a year ago.

Barley exports for the past week were 167 TMT, taking the season to date total to 7.8 MMT versus 5.25 MMT a year ago.

Corn imports are now at 7.95 MMT, a 35% decline on this time last year.

Brussels also awarded 12 TMT worth of licences to import Ukraine wheat under the special duty free arrangement that exists between them. They've now granted around 415 TMT worth of licences to import wheat under this preferential deal out of the 950 TMT of duty free quota that exists for 2015.

Yes, it does seem crazy to be doing this with prices on their arses doesn't it? No more crazy than loaning them billions of euros in credit to piss it up against the wall mind.

Ukraine remind me of "Little Derek" the local tramp who legend has it somehow got a three grand grant to do some course or other and promptly whisked all of his mates off into York in a taxi no less to give it some large. The college never saw Little Derek or got anything at all for it's money of course, but the pubs of York had a brilliant weekend's worth of takings. That's Ukraine, but smelling slightly less of wee.

A Russian business newspaper are reporting that they've bribed the right people in the government with a few crates of vodka (and possibly a few "ladies" as well) to find out what is going to happen with the wheat export duty.

The un-named sources have been singing like birds apparently. The government will only impose a "token" one dollar export duty on wheat starting on Jul 1, as long as prices remain below 12,000 roubles/tonne (currently $237.25), they say.

Considering that Russian wheat was sold to Egypt at under $200/tonne this week, then a dollar it is then for the foreseeable it would seem.

The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange say that the Argie soybean crop is 68.6% harvested, up 6.8 points on the week and 4.6 points ahead of a year ago. That means that they've harvested 46.4 MMT of the expected record 60 MMT so far.

The corn harvest only advanced 1.1 points to 29.5% done this week. That's 8.6 MMT in the bin out of an anticipated 25 MMT.

The Argie Ag Ministry say that farmers there are 31% sold on beans versus 25% done this time last year. They've flogged 43% of their corn crop (against 34% a year ago) along with 72% of their wheat (50% last year).

The Rosario Grain Exchange say that Argie soybean yields in the core area have been coming in 25% ahead of last year.

There's talk that the US corn crop could be 85% planted when the USDA report on that on Monday night.

That's all folks, I'm on the road to Devon for the rest of the day....

Chicago Grains Lower Across The Board

07/05/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed lower. The FAO raised their forecast for the world 2014/15 soybean crop from 312 MMT to a new record 316 MMT, up more than 11% on the previous season on the back of near-record yields in South America. Global ending stocks were increased 2 MMT from previously to 48 MMT, a 50% hike compared to 2013/14. MDA CropCast estimated the world soybean crop at 297.9 MMT in 2015/16. They see production in the US at 3.823 billion bushels, a 3.6% fall on last year. They have next year's Brazilian crop at 93.85 MMT versus 94.34 MMT in 2014/15, and see Argentina's at 55.55 MMT versus 56.62 MMT in 2014/15. Customs data shows that Brazil only exported 6.55 MMT of soybeans in April, down 20.6% versus 8.25 MMT in April 2014. Meal exports were also lower at 1.2 MMT versus 1.33 MMT a year previously. Oil World said that Australia's Nov/Mar canola exports were down 23% compared to a year previously at 1.75 MMT. Stategie Grains raised their forecast for the EU-28 rapeseed crop from 21.7 MMT to 21.9 MMT, although that's still 8.5% down compared to a year ago. ADM Germany are a little lower at 21.7 MMT. A Bloomberg survey of 26 traders found 7 bullish, 12 bearish and 7 neutral on soybean prices. Argentine strikes are back on the menu. "The labour situation in Argentina is very chaotic with numerous labour organisations across Argentina either on strike or contemplating striking over wage increases," said Dr Cordonnier. Weekly export sales for beans came in at 338,900 MT on old crop and 350,300 MT for new crop. Exports of 186,700 MT were down 29% from the previous week and 51 percent below the prior 4-week average, but they don't need to be high. The US has already exported 45.6 MMT of soybeans this season, with outstanding sales of a further 3.8 MMT. That takes total commitments to 49.4 MMT, meaning that cancellations are needed unless the USDA raises the export target from the current forecast of 48.7 MMT. May 15 Soybeans closed at $9.81 1/2, down 9 cents; Jul 15 Soybeans closed at $9.75, down 7 1/2 cents; May 15 Soybean Meal closed at $317.40, down $0.20; May 15 Soybean Oil closed at 32.31, down 44 points.

Corn: The corn market closed lower, reversing yesterday's gains. Crude oil pressed onto new highs for the recent move in early trade, but was back in the red by the afternoon. Fears of softening corn demand have the average trade guesses predicting an increase in old crop carryout in Tuesday's WASDE report from USDA. The FAO released their first estimates for the world 2015 corn crop, pegging production at 995 MMT, a 30 MMT or 2.9% decline on last year. This was mostly due to expectations of reduced plantings, especially in the US due to higher profitability of soybeans, they said. The estimate is however hugely higher that the 951 MMT forecast by the IGC late last month. Ending stocks will decline 5 MMT in 2015/16 to 217 MMT, the FAO predict. MDA CropCast are in the same ballpark as the IGC, estimating the world corn crop at 951.7 MMT, of which the US will produce 13.802 billion bushels, a 5.8% fall compared with last year. They see the Brazilian 2015/16 corn crop at 75.3 MMT versus 76.9 MMT this season, with Argentina's at 56.4 MMT compared to 57.6 MMT this year. The CNGOIC said that the country will harvest a record 232 MMT corn crop this year, which is getting on for almost a quarter of the entire global crop and a 7.6% increase on a year ago. The Chinese think tank also said that the country's corn imports will fall to just 2 MMT in 2015/16, half of what they are expected to buy in the current season. China will import about 6.9 MMT of US sorghum in 2014, of which 1.45 MMT still have to be shipped, they said. The Ukraine Ministry said that corn planting there was 72% complete and would be wrapped up in the next 7-10 days. A Bloomberg survey of 25 traders found 9 bullish, 8 bearish and 8 neutral on corn prices. Weekly export sales for corn came in at 841,800 MT on old crop and 55,400 MT for new crop. That was a bit better than trade ideas. May 15 Corn closed at $3.57 3/4, down 8 3/4 cents; Jul 15 Corn closed at $3.61 1/2, down 5 1/4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed lower.The FAO estimated the world wheat crop at 719 MT this year, some 10 MMT below last year's record output. Ending stocks will only fall 1 MMT to 199 MMT though, they predict. They see the US wheat crop at 56 MMT, up 1.6% from 55.1 MMT a year ago. "In the US, winter wheat conditions are of concern as the crop is struggling, particularly in the southern Great Plains centred around the state of Oklahoma. This is due to continued drying that has plagued the area for several years now. Spring wheat planting is on average ahead of schedule," they said. In Canada, production is anticipated to increase to 30 MMT, largely on account of an expected rebound in plantings of the major spring crop. Conditions for the minor winter crop are satisfactory, they added. "In Australia, tentative forecasts point to a return to an average production compared to 2014’s reduced output. In Argentina, following the previous year’s bumper output, plantings in 2015 are tentatively forecast to decrease in response to lower prices," they concluded. MDA CropCast estimated the world wheat crop 2.63 MMT lower than a week ago at 709.6 MMT. They cut their view on US winter wheat production by 8 million bushels to 1.491 billion. Canada was raised 0.59 MMT to 29.2 MMT, but India was dropped 3 MMT to 89.3 MMT. CNGOIC estimated China's 2015 wheat crop at 127 MMT, a 0.9% rise on last year. A Bloomberg survey of 25 traders found 12 bullish, 7 bearish and 6 neutral on wheat prices. Day two of the Wheat Quality Council’s crop tour found average yields in Kansas of 34.5 bu/acre, better than 34.3 bu/acre yesterday, but nothing to write home about. It is however an improvement on only 30.8 bu/acre on day two last year. Weekly export sales came in negative again for the old crop year that finishes at the end of the month, at -148,200 MT. New crop sales were 446,800 MT. May 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $4.65 3/4, down 10 cents; May 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $4.98 3/4, down 2 1/2 cents; May 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.18, down 9 cents.

EU Grains Mostly Lower Again, Expiring May 15 Paris Wheat Crashes

07/05/15 -- EU grains closed mostly lower on the day. We were expecting some "erratic" behaviour from front month May 15 Paris wheat ahead of the expiry of the contract on Monday. We certainly got it today, as those left still needing to sell got squeezed out.

The day ended with May 15 London wheat GBP0.20/tonne lower at GBP109.35/tonne, May 15 Paris wheat crashed EUR9.50/tonne lower at EUR161.50/tonne although other months were only down less than a euro, Jun 15 Paris corn was up EUR0.25/tonne at EUR155.25/tonne and Aug 15 Paris rapeseed was down EUR4.00/tonne at EUR352.00/tonne.

French grain exports have slowed right up, with the leading port of Rouen only shipping out 82,520 MT in the week through to May 6 - a four month low and 45% down on the previous week. Soft wheat exports accounted for only 41,000 MT of that total - the lowest volume since September. The only bright spot was China taking another 41,520 MT of feed barley.

The FAO released their first look into global crop production in 2015, placing the world wheat crop at 719 MMT, which is 10 MMT below last year's record, primarily due to reduced output in Europe.

They peg output here at 147 MMT, down 5.5% versus 155.6 MMT last year. Production in Russia is forecast to decline 6.8% to 55 MMT and that of Ukraine will fall 8.3% to 22 MMT, they predict.

"In the EU, the crop is generally in good condition owing to warmer-than-usual weather, particularly over north-eastern countries. In some areas of Western Europe there is prolonged lack of precipitation. However, for the moment, the only region of concern is in northern Portugal," they said. Portugal of course is not a major grain producing country.

"In the Russian Federation, winter wheat continues to emerge from dormancy and conditions are mixed despite the generally favourable climatic conditions, due to dry conditions in the fall and a delayed spring in most regions. Due to the late spring there has been a delay in sowing of cold resistant spring wheat in Central, Volga and Southern Russia," they added.

MDA CropCast forecast the world wheat crop in 2015 somewhat lower than the FAO at 709.6 MMT, down 2.63 MMT from a week ago, principally due to reduced expectations for India.

They see the EU-28 wheat crop at 143.1 MMT, with Russian output at 53.9 MMT and Ukraine's at 23.0 MMT. All those figures are unchanged from a week ago. They also predict an EU-28 barley crop of 56.4 MMT and a corn crop of 62 MMT.

They continue to be out on limb with their estimate of 24.56 MMT for the EU rapeseed crop however. French analysts Strategie Grains, whilst increasing their forecast by 200,000 MT yesterday, are only at 21.9 MMT - an 8.5% decline on last year.

ADM forecast the EU-28 rapeseed crop a tad lower than that at 21.7 MMT, some 10% below a year ago. German production will slump nearly 13% to 5.4 MMT, they predict. Their estimate for the UK incidentally is 2.3 MMT versus 2.4 MMT last year.

Sparks Polska meanwhile are estimating that the Polish rapeseed crop will fall 11% to 2.9 MMT.

Australia's rapeseed exports in March were 26% down year-on-year at 343 TMT, said Oil World. The EU was the top buyer taking 136 TMT, but that's down almost 44% on 241 TMT a year ago. Nov/Mar exports are down 23% at 1.75 MMT. Again the EU has been the top home, taking 0.78 MMT, but that's 38% less than the 1.26 MMT that was purchased a year previously.

UkrAgroConsult said that 4% of Romania's winter rapeseed crop suffered winterkill, and a further 5% is in a weak/thinned state. They said that Romanian sunflower planting is 80% complete. Ukraine growers intend to plant more sunflower and soybeans this year at the expense of less profitable corn, they added.

Ukraine's 2015 corn crop is said to be 72% planted. The Deputy Ag Minister said that he expects spring planting to be completed in the next 7-10 days.

They'll need longer than that in Russia, where plantings are only 7.5% done on spring wheat, 42.7% complete on spring barley and 47.4% finished on corn.

Interestingly Bloomberg, quoting AccuWeather, said that the Black Sea region could see “long stretches of dry weather,” with heat waves common in July and August this year.

At home, Defra said that the UK milled 553 TMT of wheat in the 5 weeks to 28 Mar, slightly less than 560 TMT a year earlier. The volume milled in the season so far is however up 7.9% at 5.17 MMT. We clearly aren't eating enough biscuits though! Production of biscuit-making flour was down 23.6% in the 5-weeks to Mar 28 and is 17% lower for the season so far.

Chicago Grains Mostly Higher, Crude Hits 5-Month Highs Aiding Corn

06/05/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed mixed in subdued trade. Stats Canada reported Mar 31 canola stocks at 7.04 MMT, down from 8.68 MMT a year ago and below the average analyst estimate of 7.4 MMT. "World inventories of soybeans probably will rise to a record before the 2016 Northern Hemisphere harvest," said Bloomberg News in a survey of as many as 18 analysts and trading firms. That put the average guess for world stocks on 1 Oct 2016 at 95 MMT. Another Bloomberg survey put US soybean stocks at the end of 2015/16 at 446 million bushels - the highest in nine years. Yet another Bloomberg survey into US crop production in 2015 put this year's soybean crop at 3.829 billion bushels, down 3.5% from last year's record 3.969 billion. The range of guesses was pretty wide, as you might expect at this very early stage in the season. The highest guess in the ring was 4.187 billion, which would eclipse last year's production by 5.5%. The lowest estimate was 3.7 billion, a 6.8% drop on a year ago. The US weather pattern continues to suggest a developing El Nino signal. "The Midwest forecast is very wet. An unstable weather front would stall out across the corn belt stretching from Nebraska to Ohio, guaranteeing heavy rainfall on most farms," said Martell Crop Projections. "Very strong showers are predicted in Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois, at least 1.75 inches of rain, but up to 2.5 inches locally, with recurring thunderstorms," they forecast. Strong warming is also expected in the week ahead, they added. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales for beans are all over the place, from zero to as much as 850 TMT. May 15 Soybeans closed at $9.90 1/2, down 3 cents; Jul 15 Soybeans closed at $9.82 1/2, down 2 1/4 cents; May 15 Soybean Meal closed at $317.60, down $0.50; May 15 Soybean Oil closed at 32.75, down 13 points.

Corn: The corn market settled around 3-5 cents higher. Crude oil closed back above $60/barrel for the first time in almost 5 months, helping corn's cause. There may also have been some short-covering today, with funds finishing up as net buyers of around 7,000 contracts. The wet forecast for the US is a mixed blessing, and may hold up some corn planting. "Many Midwest corn farms have dry field conditions reflecting prolonged drought previously. Heavy soaking rainfall would be highly beneficial, restoring field moisture in the deep soil layer, while also interrupting corn planting," said Martell Crop Projections. In Brazil, total corn production estimates are rising, with Informa yesterday adding 5.6 MMT to their estimate for the South American powerhouse. "Brazil corn production estimates keep improving, as winter corn grown as a second crop has improved to unusually wet weather in the tropics. Ample rainfall has continued beyond the summer wet season in Mato Grosso, the largest corn state," said Martell Crop Projections. The same Bloomberg surveys referred to above found a world corn stocks estimate on 1 Oct 2016 of 185.19 MMT, with US 2015/16 ending stocks of 1.759 billion bushels, and US 2015 production of 13.58 billion bushels. The latter figure would be a 4.5% fall on last year's record output. The US Energy Dept reported a fall in weekly US ethanol production from 921,000 barrels/day last week to 881,000 bpd this time round. That was the lowest weekly grind reported since October. Russia estimated their 2015 corn crop to be 47.4% planted on 1.3 million ha, which is 0.2 million less than a year ago. May 15 Corn closed at $3.66 1/2, up 5 1/4 cents; Jul 15 Corn closed at $3.66 3/4, up 4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed with double digit gains on short covering. Reports back from the first day of the Wheat Quality Council’s crop tour pegging yields in that part of Kansas and Nebraska at the lowest since 2001 at 34.3 bu/acre had shorts scrambling for cover. Tour participants are said to be finding a lot of stripe rust and winter kill. Weather on the US Plains is suddenly turning much wetter, but is it too late to be of much use to winter wheat? "Heavy rainfall is predicted in the US breadbasket where hard red winter wheat is grown. Four to six times average rainfall is expected in the upcoming week, though with a semi-arid climate 'above average' rainfall is not exceptionally large," said Martell Crop Projections. Other bullish input today came from the news that Canadian wheat stocks were lower than market expectations. Stats Canada placed Mar 31 stocks at 16.7 MMT, down 25% from 22.3 MMT a year previously, and below the average trade forecast of 17.3 MMT in a Bloomberg survey. Canadian barley stockpiles fell 23% year-on-year to 3.38 MMT, they added. Another Bloomberg survey pegged global wheat stocks as of 1 Jun next year at 194.5 MMT, with US 2015/16 ending stocks at 751 million bushels. The USDA will release their first global and US production estimates for 2015/16 on Tuesday next week. The USDA's FAS in Canada estimated the wheat crop there (excluding durum) at 29.55 MMT this year, up slightly on a year ago, but predicted 2015/16 exports to fall 0.7 MMT to 22.2 MMT. The USDA's FAS in India cut their forecast for wheat production there this year by 5 MMT to 87 MMT, and said that the country could finish up as a net wheat importer in 2015/16 for the first time in 5 seasons. Algeria tendered for 50,000 MT of optional origin hard wheat. Russia said that it's spring wheat crop is only 7.5% planted. May 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $4.75 3/4, up 11 3/4 cents; May 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.01 1/4, up 15 cents; May 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.27, up 13 3/4 cents.

EU Grains Consolidate, Although Record Large French Wheat Crop Looms

06/05/15 -- EU grains closed mostly higher, with the exception of rapeseed which ended a little lower. I guess you could call that consolidation from the last couple of days trade.

At the finish, May 15 London wheat was up GBP1.45/tonne at GBP109.55/tonne, soon to expire May 15 Paris wheat ended unchanged at EUR171.00/tonne, although other months were around EUR2-3/tonne firmer. Jun Paris corn closed EUR1.50/tonne higher at EUR155.00/tonne and Aug 15 Paris rapeseed ended EUR0.25/tonne lower at EUR356.00/tonne.

Fresh news was relatively scarce. The pound was steady against both the dollar and euro ahead of tomorrow's General Election.

ODA estimated French soft wheat yields at 7.65 MT/ha, which is higher than the current forecasts from MARS (7.25 MT/ha) and Coceral (7.41 MT/ha). It's also an increase on their previous estimate of 7.63 MT/ha and 2.3% up on 7.48 MT/ha a year ago.

If we use the French Ministry's area estimate of 5.179 million ha - the highest in more than 20 years - then that would give us a French soft wheat crop of 39.62 MMT this year versus 37.5 MMT in 2014.

Add on a durum wheat crop of around 1.5-1.6 MMT and that pegs French all wheat production at record levels of more than 41 MMT.

Recall that FranceAgriMer currently project 2014/15 French wheat ending stocks up more than 50% compared with last season at 3.58 MMT, despite a strong export campaign. Certainly there would appear to still be large old crop wheat stocks in France judging by Senalia recently suspending the intake of wheat in Rouen.

That potentially leaves a very large exportable surplus to dispose of again in 2015/16.

Day one of the US Wheat Quality Council tour found potential average yields in Kansas of 34.3 bushels/acre - the lowest first day finding since 2001. That converts to just 2.3 MT/ha in terms we more clearly understand this side of the pond, which would be construed as a total disaster over here. The figure isn't however that much different to last year's first day findings of 34.7 bu/acre.

Russia's spring grain planting is making slow progress, with 7.2 million ha seeded so far. That's only 23% of the government target and is also 24% less than the 9.5 million ha that had been sown this time last year.

Of that, wheat accounts for 992k ha (7.5% of target) versus 1.32 million ha a year ago. Barley makes up 3.5 million ha (42.7% of target) versus 4.6 million ha a year ago, and corn 1.3 million ha (47.4%) compared to 1.5 million ha in 2014.

The Russian government don't appear to view this retarded progress as a problem at this stage, they still seem set to reduce the export duty on wheat to a token one next Friday.

The USDA's FAS in India cut their forecast for the country's wheat crop this year to 87 MMT, down 9.2% on last year due to heavy rains and hail damage just prior to harvesting. There will be quality issues too with what has been harvested, meaning that the country's millers will need to blend this off with higher quality imported wheat.

That could make India a net wheat importer in 2015/16 for the first time since 2010/11, they said.

Chicago Corn And Soybeans Rise, But Wheat Ends Lower

05/05/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed with decent gains, with the front end again leading the way higher. The move came despite reports that at least some the various Argentine labour disputes had been resolved (for now) and last night's news that US plantings had made good progress in the past week. Oil World estimated the global 2014/15 soybean crop at 315.9 MMT versus a previous estimate of 312.75 MMT and up 12% compared to 281.65 MMT a year previously. They see Argentina at 57.5 MMT (although other estimates are now as high as 60 MMT), with Brazil at 94.3 MMT and Paraguay at 8.6 MMT. Informa estimated the Argentine crop at 59 MMT, with Brazil at 94.5 MMT. The new crop soybean:corn price ratio ended at 2.52:1 tonight, another fresh 7-month high, which in theory should encourage more soybean plantings. However with 55% of the US corn crop already in the ground, maybe this won't be the case. That at least appears to be the way the market is seeing it. UkrAgroConsult estimated the Ukraine rapeseed crop to fall 12% this year, with exports in 2015/16 declining by 15%. Maybe Europe will therefore need a few more soybeans to compensate for that shortfall, with their own 2015 rapeseed crop seen down 11% by Oil World. China's April soybean crush was estimated at 5.6 MMT, down from 6.0 MMT in March and versus 6.05 MMT a year previously. The crush is expected to pick up in May, June and July though as it usually does. May 15 Soybeans closed at $9.93 1/2, up 10 1/2 cents; Jul 15 Soybeans closed at $9.84 3/4, up 8 1/2 cents; May 15 Soybean Meal closed at $318.10, up $2.30; May 15 Soybean Oil closed at 32.88, up 41 points.

Corn: The corn market closed with small gains, despite last night's confirmation from the USDA that great strides had indeed been made by US growers in seeding the US 2015 corn crop. Maybe we can just call this light consolidation? "There doesn’t appear to be anything significant to induce a late session rally, but oversold conditions and a firmer soy complex were supportive," said Benson Quinn. Informa didn't bring anything bullish to the party, hiking their estimate for the 2014/15 Brazilian corn crop by 5.6 MMT to 80.3 MMT. They also increased the size of the global crop in 2015/16 by 4 MMT. One private analyst forecast US corn yields at 166 bu/acre this year. That's not far away from the USDA's Feb Outlook Forum prediction of a second highest ever 166.8 bu/acre, beaten only by last season's record 171.0 bu/acre. Taiwan tendered for 50-65,000 MT of US, Brazilian or Argentine corn for Jun/Jul shipment. France said that they'd exported 35% more corn in the first 8 months of this season than they did in the last. Jul 14 - Feb 15 exports were 4.7 MMT. FranceAgriMer predict full season exports at 7.1 MMT, also 35% up on a year previously. Russian seaports were said to have shipped out 155 TMT of corn last week, up from 101.6 TMT the previous week. Russia's Feb 1 - Apr 29 corn exports were 1.37 MMT versus 1.17 MMT a year ago. Their season to date exports are 2.39 MMT, down 30.9% on a year ago. Ukraine seaports shipped out 421.1 TMT of grains last week, of which 301.3 TMT, or 71.6%, was corn. The USDA's FAS in Romania said that heavy and prolonged rains there were holding back winter grain development and delaying spring corn planting. They see corn production there down 4% this year. May 15 Corn closed at $3.61 1/4, up 2 1/2 cents; Jul 15 Corn closed at $3.62 3/4, up 1 1/2 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market ended lower across the three exchanges. News that Egypt's GASC had picked up 2 cargoes of Russian/Romanian wheat at the lowest prices paid in at least 2 years was bearish. So too was the number of cargoes on offer. The prices paid were said to be around USD20/tonne under the best US offer. Informa estimated the US winter wheat crop at 1.486 billion bushels, up from a previous forecast of 1.378 billion and 8% higher than the 1.377 billion produced last year. HRW wheat production was seen at 871 million bushels, up 18% compared with 738 million in 2014. SRW wheat production was forecast at 410 million bushels, down 10% compared with 455.3 million in 2014. Russia appear to be lining up to remove their export duty on wheat from 15 May, although it may be replaced by another smaller tax, there's talk of the new on being as low as one euro/tonne. Russia's wheat exports since the duty came into force on Feb 1 (to Apr 29) were only 1.48 MMT compared with 3.57 MMT in the same period in 2014. Season to date wheat exports are however still 18.6% higher at 19.95 MMT. The USDA's FAS in Romania forecast the 2015 wheat crop there to decline 12%, with barley output falling 10%. Iran bought 25,000 MT of Ukraine milling wheat in a tender. The UK are currently said to be loading 66,000 MT of feed wheat destined for Thailand. Iraq were said to have bought 50,000 MT of US hard wheat. Egypt said that it had bought 1.6 MMT of wheat on the domestic market in the past 3 weeks. They aim to buy a total of 3.7 MMT this year. The Kazakh Ag Ministry trimmed back its forecast for the country's 2014/15 grain exports from 7.0 MMT to 6.5-6.6 MMT, due to the lower quality of last year's crop. Exports in 2013/14 were 8.7 MMT. Stats Canada are due out tomorrow with their latest Canadian stocks estimates. For wheat it's expected to be around 17.7 MMT as of 31 Mar, versus 21.9 MMT the previous year. May 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $4.64, down 5 1/4 cents; May 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $4.86 1/4, down 7 1/2 cents; May 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.13 1/4, down 2 3/4 cents.

EU Grains Crash Although Rapeseed Manages To Buck The Trend

05/05/15 -- EU grains closed mostly lower, with only Paris rapeseed managing to buck the trend for a second successive session.

The day ended with May 15 London wheat down GBP3.80/tonne at GBP108.10/tonne, May 15 Paris wheat crashed EUR5.25/tonne to EUR171.00/tonne, Jun 15 Paris corn fell EUR1.75/tonne to EUR153.50/tonne whilst Aug 15 Paris rapeseed added EUR2.25/tonne to close at EUR356.25/tonne.

London wheat finished just 50 pence away from the lowest close for a front month since 2010. Things weren't quite so bleak for Paris wheat, where this was "only" the lowest close on a front month since last November.

Essentially what we appear to be seeing here is growing confidence in another year of very good, whilst not record, global wheat and corn production. That's mixed in against a background of high carryover stocks left over from last year.

There's only 8 weeks to go now until the end of the 2014/15 EU wheat marketing year. "As at 30 April the price gap between May-15 UK feed wheat futures and the rolling post-planting average (since 1 October) was GBP24.92/tonne, demonstrating a growth in the price gap of GBP9.07/tonne since 1 April 2015," note the HGCA.

"New crop (production) prospects are currently looking positive, highlighting that 2015 could be a lean price year for UK arable farmers," they add.

As far as global wheat stocks go, these are currently forecast 5.7% higher at the end of the current season than they were a year ago. At 197.21 MMT that means that more than a quarter of the entire global 2014/15 wheat crop is still going to be in storage as we enter the new crop year.

As ever, it's not just the size of the stocks that matters, it's who has them.

Despite a strong export campaign, record production last year means that stocks in the EU will be more than 50% higher at the end of 2014/15, Russia's will be almost two thirds higher, Ukraine's are seen up by nearly half and those in the US will increase by 16%, according to the USDA.

Of the top six global wheat exporters then, four of them are looking at sharply higher ending stocks this season. Of the remaining two, Australia's are seen about equal to year ago levels, only Canada will see a reduction - their carryover is estimated 42% lower this year.

News that Russia is looking to end the current punitive export duty on wheat from 15 May was a bearish influence today, even if they are suggesting that it might be replaced with a smaller "token" tax of some sort. It also indicates growing confidence in their own new crop production prospects.

Egypt's GASC stepped into the ring to see what was about today, and bought one cargo each of Russian and Romanian wheat at what was reported to be the lowest prices in at least two years.

The fact that seventeen cargoes were offered in the tender, with nine of them being of Russian origin, was also seen as another bearish factor.

Iran were reported to have bought 25,000 MT of Ukraine milling wheat for LH May shipment. They've been a big buyer of Black Sea and German wheat this season, and are forecast to import around 6.5-7.0 MMT by the end of the current campaign. That is not expected to be the case in 2015/16 however when their foreign buys are estimated at only 2 MMT, according to the country's Ag Ministry.

In other news, France said that they'd exported 4.7 MMT of corn in the first 8 months of the current season (Jul/Feb), an increase of 35% on a year ago. Joint top buyers were Spain and the Netherlands taking 1.1 MMT each, with Belgium in third at 0.7 MMT, and the UK and Germany tying for fourth with 0.5 MMT each.

Finally, UkrAgroConsult said that Ukraine's 2015 rapeseed crop would fall 12% to 1.93 MMT this season, with exports likely to drop 15% to 1.63 MMT. They are of course a major supplier to Europe, who's own crop is likely to fall around 10-12% according to most private estimates.

Chicago Beans Rally To Start The Week, But Wheat And Corn End Lower

04/05/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed with good gains, led by the front end. The cause was helped by oil posting large gains on talk of large-scale Chinese interest. Talk that the various labour disputes in Argentina might not prove to be quite as easy/quick to resolve as some had been suggesting was also supportive today. Weekly export inspections came in at 172,066 MT, which was in line with expectations, even if down from 311,622 MT a week ago. The notion that very strong progress had been made with corn planting this week, under conditions described by some as "near ideal" was seen as friendly for beans, as it's delayed corn sowings that could lead to more bean acres getting put in. After the close the USDA said that 2015 US soybean plantings were 13% complete, up from only 2% a week ago, and above both last year (5%) and the previous 5-year average of 9% done. Planting is ahead of schedule in the top producing state of Iowa (11% done versus 5% typically) and the second top state of Illinois (12% done versus 7% on average). Today's action hiked the soybean:corn price ratio on new crop up to 2.51:1 which is a new 7-month high. For the time being the US weather seems to be behaving itself nicely. "Forecasts for the week ahead bring much needed rains to the western half of the belt on Wednesday with moisture remaining over the northern states as it moves eastward. The southeast is expected to be dry which should help bean planting catch up," said Benson Quinn. May 15 Soybeans closed at $9.83, up 14 1/2 cents; Jul 15 Soybeans closed at $9.76 1/4, up 13 1/2 cents; May 15 Soybean Meal closed at $315.80, up $1.10; May 15 Soybean Oil closed at 32.47, up 103 points - its best level since the first few days of March.

Corn: The corn market closed a little lower, faced with not much in the way of bullish news to hang onto apart from possible short-term supply problems from Argentina. Weekly export inspections of just over 1 MMT were respectable, although below the levels of last week and for this week last year. The Governor of Iowa announcing a state of emergency over bird flu was bearish, with it being reported that as many as 16 million layers could be affected and that 25% of the state's flock may have to be slaughtered. The USDA reported that US farmers planted a whopping 36% of the US 2015 corn crop in the week through to Sunday night, taking the total area sown to 55% versus 19% a week ago. That's well ahead of only 28% sown this time last year and also 17 points above the 5-year average for this time. As with beans, the leading states of Iowa and Illinois are well ahead of schedule at 68% done versus 39% normally, and 69% sown versus 47% respectively. The third top producing state of Nebraska is 57% planted versus 38% on average, and the fourth largest state of Minnesota is already 83% sown against 34% normally at this time. Minnesota farmers managed to plant 45% of their crop in the past week! "Early spring planting is perceived as positive for corn yields, as the lengthening daylight hours and increased solar energy promote strong growth and development, taller plants with larger ears. Topsoil moisture was reduced west of the Mississippi Valley with virtually no rainfall last week. Strong showers developed early this morning, a narrow band from central Nebraska to northern Illinois. This is just the beginning of a stormy wet weather pattern this week in the Midwest. The combination of warmth and wetness is considered ideal for corn germination," said Martell Crop Projections. May 15 Corn closed at $3.58 3/4, down 1 cent; Jul 15 Corn closed at $3.61 1/4, down 1 3/4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed mixed, but mostly a little lower. Weekly export inspections were 325,930 MT, which was a little below expectations. They were also down compared to last week and last year. The USDA reported that 43% of the US winter wheat crop was in good to excellent condition, up a point on a week ago. They said that 43% of the crop was now headed compared to 28% a week ago and 34% on average for this time. Spring wheat planting continues to run well ahead of normal, with 75% of the crop now in the ground compared to only 25% a year ago and 40% for the 5-year average. Spring wheat emergence of 30% is almost double the 5-year average of 16%. US winter wheat areas are in for more rain this week. "Not only is the Midwest expecting heavy rain, but also winter wheat farms. Indeed Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas are expecting drenching rainfall, 2-3 times the normal in the upcoming week. The sudden wetness may be linked to a strengthening El Nino signal," said Martell Crop Projections. "Recurring strong showers are considered beneficial following a prolonged drought previously this spring. Hard red wheat is presently filling grain, so plump kernels would boost the yield," they added. News from this week's annual Wheat Quality Council crop tour taking in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Colorado will make for interesting reading. The trade is currently estimating wheat production in Kansas at around the 300 million bushel mark versus 246 million a year ago. Talk of Russia looking to scrap/reduce its current export tax on wheat at some point not very far away adds to the bearish tone in wheat. The crop in Europe seems to be getting bigger, and production prospects in Russia and Ukraine have also improved. May 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $4.69 1/4, down 3/4 cent; May 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $4.93 3/4, up 1/2 cent; May 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.16, down 4 1/4 cents.

Paris Grains End Lower, But Rapeseed Corrects Last Week's Odd Close

04/05/15 -- EU grains closed mixed on the day, with wheat and corn lower, and rapeseed sharply higher. London markets were closed for the May Day bank holiday and Russia was also on holiday, so activity was light.

The day ended with May 15 Paris wheat closed EUR1.75/tonne lower at EUR176.25/tonne, Jun 15 Paris corn was also down EUR1.75/tonne at EUR155.25/tonne and Aug 15 Paris rapeseed was up EUR10.25/tonne at EUR354.00/tonne.

The sharply higher move in rapeseed futures can best be attributed to a correction of the very strange close posted in the last trading session on Thursday night, when prices collapsed in the last few minutes of trading.

Paris rapeseed then officially closed around EUR12-14/tonne lower in what basically looks like an error.

The old front month May 15 went off the board on Thursday, and trade was very thin ahead of the long weekend. Even so, the net change over the two sessions is still one of a net loss.

Other than that, fresh news was scarce to start the week. The USDA will update us with the latest planting progress and crop conditions report after the close of the Chicago grains markets tonight, with many analysts forecasting corn planting at 50% or more complete, up from only 19% done a week ago.

There's talk of some Midwest farmers already having finished planting corn unusually early, aided by near ideal weather conditions.

The USDA will also give us the latest on US winter wheat crop conditions, placed at 42% good to excellent last Monday.

After that we have Stats Canada due out on Wednesday with their latest Canadian grain stocks report, before the FAO give us their latest global production and stocks data on Thursday.

The latest UK cereals usage and trade figures from Defra are also due at the end of the week, before the USDA update their May WASDE report a week tomorrow.

Sandwiched in between all that is the expiry of the May 15 Paris wheat contract a week from today. That could display some "irrational" behaviour, much as the May 15 rapeseed contract did, in the run up to going off the board.

That's especially true now that Senalia, the operator of the largest silo that is the main delivery point against that contract in Rouen, has hung up the full signs as far as wheat intake is concerned.

The May 15 contract still has an open interest of more than 20,000 contracts - over a million tonnes. That leaves anybody who was planning to make a delivery against a May 15 short in a bit of a pickle.

Crop production prospects in Europe appear to be improving. Most of France has picked up 1-3 inches of rain in the past 7 days, and the forecast for the UK, northern France, and all of Germany, Poland and the low countries is for wetter than normal conditions across the next 14 days.

Temperatures are seen as normal to warmer than normal across most of Europe over the coming fortnight.

Talk of an early end to, or at least a reduction in, the export duty on wheat in Russia is gathering momentum as confidence appears to be growing that their 2015 crop might not end up as low as was feared back in the winter.

EU Rapemeal Prices

04/05/15 -- Latest guide prices for EU rapemeal today, basis FOB Lower Rhine in euros/metric tonne:

Offered EUR/tonne Rape/Dutch HiPro %
May '15245.00 66%
Jun/FH Jul '15243.00 67%
Aug/Oct '15217.00 61%
Nov '15/Apr '16225.00 64%
Feb/Apr '16226.00
May/FH Jul '16222.00