EU Grains Post Decent Weekly Gains, Led By Corn

03/07/15 -- EU grains closed mixed on the day, but higher for the week, with corn making the largest advances as the market seems to think that this is the next crop under threat from European heat/dryness.

At the close, Jul 15 London wheat was down GBP0.50/tonne to GBP120.25/tonne, Sep 15 Paris wheat closed a euro easier at EUR204.00/tonne, Aug 15 Paris corn was unchanged at EUR193.75/tonne, whilst Aug 15 Paris rapeseed was down EUR2.75/tonne to EUR394.25/tonne.

For the week, front month London wheat was up GBP5.45/tonne, with Paris wheat up EUR9.75/tonne, corn EUR20.25/tonne higher and rapeseed up EUR3.00/tonne.

At less than EUR10/tonne, new crop corn is now at the smallest discount to wheat in a year, the HGCA note.

French crop conditions are wilting in the heat, with FranceAgriMer today cutting the proportion of winter wheat rated good to very good by 3 points from a week ago to 78%. Although that's still better than 71% a year ago, it is the fifth weekly decline in a row.

It is also worth remembering that whilst these reports are released on Fridays, they actually refer to crop conditions as of the Monday of that week, so it's highly likely that further damage has been done by the very high temperatures seen in France from Tuesday onwards.

In contrast, the more mature French winter barley crop was rated 86% good to very good, up a point on a week ago. The same can't be said for spring barley however, which was cut from 79% good to very good a week ago to 73% this time round. Corn ratings were also cut two points to 81% good to very good. Only 1% of the crop is at the key silking stage yet.

They said that the 2015 French winter wheat harvest was officially 3% complete as of Monday, with the Midi Pyrenees region the furthest advanced at 37% complete.

Almost half the French winter barley crop had already been cut as of Monday (47%), making very rapid progress from only 4% done a week previously. That is also higher than 34% harvested this time last year. They've even cut 1% of the spring barley crop nationally, with the Centre region 8% done already.

French analyst Arvalis said that soft wheat in the southern two thirds of the country is now mature, and should be less damaged by this week's heat that crops in the north which are still at the filling stage.

Wheat yields in the north of the country will therefore not be as good as might have been expected around 10 days ago, they said.

EU soft wheat export licences were 303.7 TMT for the week through to Jun 30, bringing the full season total to a new record 31.3 MMT, up 11.7% on a year ago. Barley export licences were granted for 438.9 TMT, taking the full season total to 9.1 MMT, up nearly 60% from 2013/14.

The leading French export hub of Rouen shipped out 130.8 TMT of grains last week, up from 110.6 TMT the previous week. That included soft wheat exports of 31.5 TMT to Algeria, 41.4 TMT to the Philippines, 43 TMT to Thailand and 8.1 TMT to the UK.

FCStone estimated the EU soft wheat crop at 140.68 MMT, down 5.4% on a year ago. They see corn output falling 14% year-on-year to 66.64 MMT.

Ukraine said that they'd finished 2014/15 exporting 34.8 MMT of grains, of which 11.2 MMT was wheat, 18.8 MMT was corn and 4.5 MMT was barley.

The Ukraine Ag Ministry said that the country will produce 60 MMT of grains this year, with domestic consumption of 27 MMT and exports in 2015/16 at 34-37 MMT. They say that the country will account for 15% of the global corn trade in the new season, along with about 8% of the international wheat export market.

Russia said that they'd ended 2014/15 exporting 30.5 MMT of grains, a 20% rise on a year ago. That includes 21.7 MMT of wheat (up almost 19%), 5.3 MMT of barley (up over 200%) and 3.0 MMT of corn (down nearly 26%).

They estimate 2015/16 grain exports at a similar level (30 MMT), including around 21 MMT of wheat.

The early 2015 Russian grain harvest has been completed on 542k ha, producing 2.1 MMT of mostly barley to date, with average yields at 3.9 MT/ha versus 3.78 MT/ha a year ago.

Ukraine's early grains harvest, which excludes corn, is 6% complete on 310k ha, producing 929 TMT of grain with yields at 3.0 MT/ha compared to 2.8 MT/ha a year ago.

Chicago Grains Closing Comments - Thursday

02/07/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed mixed in relatively subdued trade after the excitement seen earlier in the week. The market is closed for the Independence Day holiday tomorrow, so there were maybe a few traders absent already, or looking to get off early and make a nice long weekend of it. It could be an interesting one, depending on what the US weather does over the next three days and what happens in the Greek referendum. That could make for lively trade next week. Monday's crop condition ratings will make interesting reading, and due next Friday is the July WASDE report from the USDA. Weekly soybean export sales came in at net reductions of 10,300 MT for 2014/15, which included decreases for unknown destinations (155,700 MT) and China (65,500 MT). Sales for 2015/16 were less than impressive too at 127,500 MT. Meal sales were better at 87,100 MT on the old crop and 176,600 MT for new crop. Trade estimates were around 200-500 TMT for both marketing years combined on beans and 100-300 TMT for meal. "To date China has bought 2.4 MMT of new crop beans from the US with another 2.8 MMT on the books for unknown destinations. For same period last year, China had already booked 6.27 MMT of new crop beans with sales to unknown destinations of 3.78 MMT," noted Benson Quinn. Informa reduced its 2015 US soybean production estimate to 3.808 billion bu versus 3.850 billion from the USDA. MDA CropCast cut their forecast by 33 million bu to 3.718 billion, with yields reduced from 45.5 bu/acre to 45 bu/acre. Informa are at 45.1 bu/acre and the USDA say 46.0 bu/acre. A Bloomberg survey into trader/analyst sentiment found 13 to be bullish, 9 bearish and 7 neutral on soybean price prospects. The Argentine Ag Ministry said that farmers there are 51% sold on their 2014/15 soybean crop versus 43% sold a year ago. Jul 15 Soybeans closed at $10.45 1/4, up 1 1/4 cents; Nov 15 Soybeans closed at $10.30 1/4, up 3/4 cent; Jul 15 Soybean Meal closed at $357.40, down $2.40; Jul 15 Soybean Oil closed at 33.36, up 35 points.

Corn: The corn market closed around 5-6 cents higher. Weekly export sales of 594,300 MT for delivery in 2014/15 were up 20 percent from the previous week and 14 percent above the prior 4-week average. There were also net sales of 238,900 MT for 2015/16. Trade estimates for that were in the 450-850 TMT region for both marketing years combined so these were at the top end of expectations. Continued US wetness seems to have this year's corn production potential shrinking. "Sharply colder Midwest temperatures this week are detrimental for corn and soybeans, not only retarding growth and development but also slowing evaporation from soggy fields. Excessively heavy June rainfall, among the highest on record, has encouraged 'ponding' in the low lying areas. Small corn and soybeans planted in June are most susceptible to drowning. The crop area for harvesting is apt to shrink, as flooded corn and soybeans are damaged beyond repair. The Midwest forecast continues very wet, as exceptionally heavy rainfall is predicted for the 5th straight week," said Martell Crop Projections. Informa came out with a US 2015 corn yield estimate of 165.4 bu/acre, with total production estimated a 13.412 billion bushels versus their previous estimate of 13,564 billion and the USDA’s 13.630 billion. MDA CropCast lowered their yield forecast from 166 bu/acre to 165 bu/acre and cut production by 226 million bushels to 13.525 billion, a near 6% drop on a year ago. A Bloomberg survey into trader/analyst sentiment found 12 to be bullish, 10 bearish and 7 neutral on corn price prospects. French corn crops are starting to enter their silking phase in southern France where temperatures topped 100C this week. MDA CropCast cut their view on EU corn production by 0.26 MMT to 61.5 MMT today, a near 10% drop on a year ago. They reduced the world crop by 6 MMT to 952 MMT. The EU Commission forecast a French corn crop of 16 MMT this year. Jul 15 Corn closed at $4.19 3/4, up 6 cents; Dec 15 Corn closed at $4.37 1/4, up 5 1/2 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed mostly a tad lower. Weekly export sales of 363,900 MT were in line with expectations. Concerns over wheat crop conditions in Canada and Europe add to worries about this year's US winter wheat crop. "Rainfall in May and June was well below normal in Canada’s western prairies, increasing moisture stress in wheat and canola. Saskatchewan was especially hard hit by drought with the majority of farms receiving under 40% of average rainfall. in May and June. Alberta drought was said to be historically significant in May, though June rainfall has increased, stabilizing crops and improving conditions to a degree. Manitoba the smallest of the 3 wheat provinces has succumbed to drought in June, having begun the growing season with favourable field moisture. Prairie drought may be linked to the El Nino," said Martell Crop Projections. "A dry spring in Europe has been followed by a wetter June , improving soil moisture in key wheat areas. However, it’s not been enough rainfall to replenish field moisture in France and Germany, the leading wheat countries. Spring rainfall was severely deficient depleting ground moisture, predisposing wheat to moisture stress. In the United Kingdom, the 3rd top wheat producing country, wheat was also threatened by abnormally dry spring weather, though drought was less widespread. A heat wave in late June has added to worries for the French wheat crop, now filling grain. Maximum temperatures have frequently exceeded 32 C (90 F) since June 20," they added. Temperatures in France actually reached 39C (102F) on Wednesday, according to AccuWeather. A Bloomberg survey into trader/analyst sentiment found 9 to be bullish, 12 bearish and 8 neutral on wheat price prospects. The Argentine Ag Ministry said that farmers there are 83% sold on their 2014/15 wheat crop versus 60% sold a year ago. MDA CropCast cut their view on US winter wheat production by 80.6 million bushels to 1.457 billion. Although durum and other spring wheat output was raised, US all wheat production was lowered 52.5 million bushels to 2.133 billion. Informa now have the US winter wheat crop at 1.477 billion bushels. Jul 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.85 3/4, down 1 3/4 cents; Jul 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.76, unchanged; Jul 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.06 1/4, down 1 1/4 cents.

EU Grains Mostly Higher, Early French Harvest Throwing Up Some Varied Results

02/07/15 -- EU grains closed mostly higher, with Jul London wheat up GBP4.05/tonne to GBP120.75/tonne and Nov 15 also GBP4.05/tonne firmer at GBP135.00/tonne. Sep 15 Paris wheat was EUR4.00/tonne higher at EUR205.00/tonne, Aug 15 Paris corn was also up EUR4.00/tonne at EUR193.75/tonne, whilst Aug 15 Paris rapeseed bucked the trend ending EUR1.50/tonne easier at EUR397.00/tonne.

Agritel report that the early French winter barley harvest is progressing quickly in the warm and dry weather that much of continent was seen this week. Yields are "good" and there's been some nice quality barley coming in, they say. Spring barley however is now starting to suffer under these conditions, they note.

As for rapeseed, early harvest results for that are throwing up disappointing yields which are said to be "much lower than last year".

Tomorrow's FranceAgriMer weekly crop condition ratings will make interesting reading.

Reuters and Bloomberg both report that fires, sparked by combine harvesters, have broken out in various parts of France baking under temperatures as high as 40C this week.

Officials in the Eure-et-Loir region have apparently ordered farmers to plough up 10-metre-wide borders around fields to prevent fires spreading, Reuters say.

The EU Commission have put some flesh on the bones of their forecasts from earlier in the week for an EU soft wheat crop of 139.9 MMT this year, along with barley production at 58.1 MMT and a corn crop of 68.4 MMT. That's a 5.9% drop in wheat output, a 3.5% decline for barley and a 7% fall in the case of corn incidentally.

Wheat production in the UK was pegged at 15.3 MMT in those figures, and barley output here at 6.6 MMT. That would be a decline of 7.8% versus last year for wheat, whilst barley output would be down 4.3%.

They also estimated the French soft wheat crop at 39.0 MMT, with Germany's at 25.6 MMT and Poland's at 10.6 MMT. For barley they have France at 11.9 MMT, Germany at 10.8 MMT and Poland at 3.9 MMT.

In addition, they estimated the EU-28 rapeseed crop at 21.72 MMT, down 10.8% on a year ago, although unfortunately I haven't got a country by country breakdown of that number.

They also gave production estimates for Russia and Ukraine this year, estimating the grain crop at 95-99 MMT in the former and at 57-60 MMT in the latter. Russian wheat output will amount to 55-59 MMT this year, and Ukraine's will come in around 22 MMT, they predict.

MDA CropCast lowered their world wheat production forecast by 2.75 MMT, taking that down to 707.8 MMT versus 717.5 MMT a year ago. Output was pared back in the US, Canada, Australia and the EU, all areas where widely reported potential problems are brewing. Yields here in Europe were trimmed back from an estimated average of 5.62 MT/ha a week ago to 5.59 MT/ha.

They also cut their outlook on the EU corn and barley crops this year as a result of the recent dryness and heat.

They were unchanged on Russia's wheat crop at 55 MMT and have Ukraine's estimated at 23 MMT.

Egypt bought one 60,0000 MT cargo of wheat of Romanian origin for Aug 1-10 shipment. French wheat was priced out, even before more expensive freight was factored in, and so too, a little more surprisingly, was Russian origin material.

There was plenty of Russian wheat on the table, accounting for 9 of the 14 cargoes offered. "However, Russian wheat, offered at its cheapest at $204.74 a tonne excluding freight, was not competitive with the winning Romanian cargo, priced by Nidera at $202.95 a tonne excluding freight," said Agrimoney.

"Indeed, the results might indicate some impact from the fresh Russian export duty introduced this month, which exacts a 50% levy above a threshold price of 11,000 roubles a tonne, equivalent on Thursday to $198.50 a tonne," they added.

Chicago Beans And Wheat Give Up Some Gains, But Corn Holds Steady

01/07/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed lower, giving up some, but not anything like all, of yesterday's gains. "Producer selling was noted overnight and early in the session, but slowed with the break in the prices," said Benson Quinn. Today's eventual price action looks like the market had time to step back, take a breather, and conclude that yesterday's steep rises were maybe a little overdone. It's unlikely that this volatility is over just yet however. It's July and we are in a weather market, pure and simple. "The new Midwest forecast is less wet than previously. Temperatures are trending much cooler. The 7 day outlook is for 3-5 F below normal temperatures in the western Corn Belt, 2-3 F below average in the eastern Midwest. Cooler temperatures would continue in the 6-10 day outlook, along with above average rainfall July 6-10," said Martell Crop Projections. Dr Cordonnier, touring Illinois, Iowa and Missouri said "The soybean crop is in trouble, big trouble! Of the soybeans we saw, I would estimate that 40% are good, 30% are mediocre, and 30% are poor to very poor. Where the crop is poor, it is really bad or in some cases nonexistent. In some of the saturated areas, half of the soybeans are missing and the other half is very short, stunted, poor colour, and really struggling. Combining the unplanted soybeans and the soybeans lost due to standing water, the total soybean acreage could be millions of acres short of what was intended. If the weather during July and August would turn out to be normal, that could stabilize the crop, but it would still be disappointing. If the weather over the next two weeks is as wet as it has been for the last several weeks, the soybean crop is going to get a lot worse." Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report are around 200-500 TMT for beans and 100-300 TMT for meal. Jul 15 Soybeans closed at $10.44, down 12 1/4 cents; Nov 15 Soybeans closed at $10.29 1/2, down 7 3/4 cents; Jul 15 Soybean Meal closed at $359.80, up $0.30; Jul 15 Soybean Oil closed at 33.01, down 55 points.

Corn: The corn market closed narrowly mixed. Weekly ethanol production slowed to 968,000 barrels per day, down from 994,000 barrels per day the previous week. Dr Cordonnier reported that "the corn crop is highly variable depending on date of planting, rainfall, drainage, and location. The earliest planted corn is the best and the latest planted corn is the worst. A lot of corn is short, yellowish in color, very uneven in height and in development. Where the corn is good, it looks really good, but where it is bad, it looks really bad. Of the corn I saw, I would estimate that 60% is good or better, 20% is mediocre, and 20% is poor or very poor. The corn in Illinois was worse than I expected, the corn in Iowa was about as I expected, and the corn in Missouri was much worse than I expected. Missouri had the worst looking corn, Iowa had the best looking corn, and Illinois was a mixed bag. If the weather during July and August ended up being normal, the corn crop would end up being a disappointment, but not a disaster." It would seem that we are stuck with a fairly wide degree of uncertainty over potential US corn yields until we get much closer to harvest time. Fund money is probably still short on corn, but we won't find out how short they still are until Monday. The usual Commitment of Traders report is delayed until then due to the market being closed on Friday for the Independence Day holiday. The fact that prices have now risen well above the $4/bushel mark, to the best levels in a year, will doubtless have attracted some producer selling. A sharply higher US dollar again today would have been another bearish factor. So, all in all, a virtually unchanged close today was probably not a bad result. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report are in the 450-850 TMT region for both marketing years combined. Old crop sales might contribute around 300-500 TMT of that total. Jul 15 Corn closed at $4.13 3/4, down 1/4 cent; Dec 15 Corn closed at $4.31 3/4, up 1/4 cent.

Wheat: The wheat market closed with some fairly steep losses. Large US stocks, the strong dollar, and the continued difficulty to compete on the export front with EU and Black Sea origin wheat were the factors on traders' minds today, not continued wetness on the Plains. "Egypt released another snap tender to buy wheat for early August shipment after the close today. That could remind traders of the high price of US wheat relative to European and Black Sea supplies tomorrow and must be watched," noted Arlan Suderman of Water Street Solutions. He's right, you can expect US wheat to be comfortably outpriced there, if anyone bothers to offer any at all. Weekly export sales tomorrow will be of interest. Last week's sales of 434,300 MT actually managed to beat modest trade expectations for sales of only 200-400,000 MT. What will tomorrow's bring? The trade isn't getting it's hopes too high, estimating these at around 250,000 to 450,000 MT. Russia said that it had harvested 1.6 MMT of new crop grains off 423.4k ha, down compared to 953.6k ha this time a year ago. Wetness in some areas is now delaying the harvest, and that could mean that Jul/Aug exports might be a bit lower than previously expected, SovEcon told Bloomberg. High moisture levels may also damage grain quality, they said. Russia was forecast to have finished the 2014/15 season, which ended yesterday, exporting a record of around 31.7-31.9 MMT of grains, including around 21-22 MMT of wheat. Potential production problems in Europe and Canada (and possibly Australia too) keep getting flagged up. Bloomberg report that field fires in France have burnt some crops in recent days. Meanwhile, a senior economist with the Australia & New Zealand Banking Group said that continuing drought in Canada may create a 12 MMT shortfall in wheat exports in015/16. US winter wheat areas remain wet. Jul 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.87 1/2, down 27 1/4 cents; Jul 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.76, down 17 1/4 cents; Jul 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.07 1/2, down 14 3/4 cents.

EU Grains Mixed, Wheat Gives Up Early Gains

01/07/15 -- EU wheat posted decent early solid gains, with the French market initially building on yesterday's highest closes on the front month in over a year, and with new crop Nov 15 London wheat hitting it's best level since January. The latter contract saw high volume trade, getting as high as GBP136.50/tonne at one stage, although an afternoon turnaround in Chicago soon had European grains following suit.

It was almost as if the market suddenly realised that yesterday's USDA report was bearish for wheat, so why did Chicago wheat end over 30 cents higher?

At the finish Jul 15 London wheat was down GBP0.95/tonne to GBP116.70/tonne, Nov 15 was EUR1.05/tonne easier at GBP130.95/tonne, Sep 15 Paris wheat fell EUR0.25/tonne to EUR201.00/tonne, Aug 15 Paris corn was up EUR3.00/tonne to EUR189.75/tonne, whilst Aug 15 Paris rapeseed rose EUR1.25/tonne to EUR398.50/tonne.

Early strength was supported by concerns that EU crop production potential is wilting in the excessive heat that's around Europe this week. FranceAgriMer on Friday cut the proportion of the French winter wheat crop rated good to very good by four percentage points, and further reductions look likely in the coming weeks too.

Although they release their weekly reports on a Friday, they are actually based on conditions as per Monday of that week, hence we won't really get to see how much damage, if any, has been done by this week's searingly hot temperatures in France until we get next week's report on Jul 10.

The mercury is forecast to hit 39C in Paris today, and to almost match that at 38C on Friday - when the night-time low is set to be a balmy 26C!

In Germany meanwhile, Berlin is forecast to bake in temperatures of 36C on Saturday, peaking at 37C on Sunday.

The country's farmers union, Deutscher Bauernverband (DBV), yesterday estimated this year's German grain crop at 47.1 MMT, an 11% reduction on a year ago. Wheat production will fall 8.3% to 25.12 MMT, corn output is seen down 7.2% to 4.77 MMT, and the German rapeseed crop will tumble 20.5% to less than 5 MMT, they estimate.

A significant decline in plantings, combined with lower yields due to the neonicotinoid ban, has particularly hit rapeseed production this year, they said.

FCStone released their latest EU-28 crop production estimates today, and they are all lower than where the USDA currently stand with the wheat crop here at 140.68 MMT versus the USDA's current 143 MMT forecast. They see corn output at 66.64 MMT (68.14 MMT from the USDA) and rapeseed production at 21.33 MMT (22.10 MMT from the USDA).

The US remains excessively wet, whilst the forecast light showers will offer only very slight relief to the dry areas of the Canadian Prairies. The CWB cut their estimate for this year's Canadian canola crop to 12.6-13.0 MMT earlier in the week, and some private analysts are now saying that even that forecast is still "way too high" and that production could be closer to 10 MMT this year!

A report on Bloomberg today said that Australia & New Zealand Banking Group were likening this year's dryness in Canada to 2002, when wheat production fell to less than 16 MMT on yields of 1.83 MT/ha. The USDA currently has Canadian wheat yields this year at 3.02 MT/ha.

The old 2014/15 marketing year is now officially dead for many, with Russia expected to have exported a record volume of grain in what is technically now last season, despite the temporary duty introduced on wheat sales.

The Russian Grain Union estimate total grain exports in 2014/15 at 31.7 MMT, and Rusagrotrans say 31.9 MMT. The previous record year was 2011/12 when 28.4 MMT was shipped out, so that figure has been comfortably beaten this time round it would seem. Wheat will have accounted for around 21-22 MMT of that total it is thought.

Old crop carryout, including stocks held in the government's intervention fund, are called at around 14.8-15.0 MMT, a sizable figure, that will doubtless mean they will be their usual aggressive selves as soon as the 2015/16 harvest gets going in earnest. That's with the caveat that the new "floating" wheat export duty, which comes in today, doesn't rise too high.

Looking ahead, the Russian Grain Union now estimate the 2015/16 grain crop at 95-98 MMT, including 54-55 MMT of wheat. Rusagrotrans go for figures of 98 MMT and 57 MMT respectively.

Exports in 2015/16 are seen at 29-31 MMT, although there's a difference of opinion on wheat exports. Rusagrotrans has these at 20-21 MMT, but the Grain Union think that they may only total 17-18 MMT, hurt by the new export tax.

Finally, still feeling hard done to? Spare a thought for growers in Ukraine, where the State Stats Service said that agricultural production costs jumped 60% in the first five months of 2015 compared with the same period a year ago.

Chicago Corn Ends Limit Up, Leading US Grains Sharply Higher

30/06/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed with strong gains after the USDA put Jun 1 US soybean stocks at 625 million bushels versus trade ideas of 670-680 million. "Based on the USDA demand balance sheet, 4th quarter demand should be 470 million bu which implies a 14/15 carryout of 200 million bushels or 130 million less than their June estimate of 330 million," noted Benson Quinn. Plantings this year were placed at a record high 85.14 million acres, a bit below the average trade guess of 85.332 million acres, although up versus the USDA's March figure of 84.635 million. Analysts were already pointing out prior to this that this was based on a survey done before the worst of the Midwest wetness hit, so it is widely anticipated that plantings will in fact come in lower than today's forecast. The USDA will apparently re-survey some states and update their acreage figures in their August WASDE report. "From early talk of large increase in soybean acres, today’s number along with lower carryin estimate is bullish with US 15/16 carryout now closer to 325 million than June’s USDA estimate at 475 million," said Benson Quinn. Volume today was "huge" they added, doubtless helped by fund money caught on the wrong side short-covering. Jul 15 Soybeans closed at $10.56 1/4, up 53 3/4 cents; Nov 15 Soybeans closed at $10.37 1/4, up 57 1/4 cents; Jul 15 Soybean Meal closed at $359.50, up $17.60; Jul 15 Soybean Oil closed at 33.56, up 51 points.

Corn: The corn market closed around limit up. It's been a long time since I last wrote those words. The USDA put US corn stocks and plantings lower than the trade expected, sparking some frantic short-covering. US June 1 corn stocks were pegged at 4.447 billion bushels versus an average trade guess of 4.557 billion. US corn plantings were estimated at 88.897 million acres versus the March USDA figure of 89.199 million and the average trade guess in a Bloomberg survey of 89.136 million. It is also 1.7 million lower than a year ago. The USDA put harvested acres at 81.101 million which is more than 2 million below last year. "Combine the lower stocks estimate with tighter acres and decreasing yield expectations and things begin to tighten for the 2015 crop. Undoubtedly the top has been taken off the crop with most analyst now pegging the crop towards the mid to lower 160’s per acre. Using 162.5 bushels per acre and 81.101 million acres, total production would be 13.178 bln bushels versus 13.630 bln in the June WASDE report," calculated Benson Quinn. The EU Commission estimated corn production there this year at 68.45 MMT, down 7% from a year ago. South Africa's CEC cut their estimate for this year's corn crop there to 9.755 MMT from 9.84 MMT previously. This would be the smallest crop since 2007, said Bloomberg. Jul 15 Corn closed at $4.14, up 30 3/4 cents; Dec 15 Corn closed at $4.31 1/2, up 29 1/4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed with strong gains, supported by spillover from beans and corn. This was despite the USDA pegging US June 1 stocks and the 2015 US wheat acreage higher than the average trade estimates. Wheat stocks of all classes were 753 million bushels versus an average trade guess of 712 million. Plantings were pegged at 56.079 million acres compared to the average pre-report guess of 55.707 million. None of that seemed to matter on a day like today, and wheat joined the other markets and moved strongly higher for a fourth session in a row. Chicago wheat ended at it's highest close of the year on a front month basis. Stats Canada added some friendly news by cutting their forecast for Canadian all wheat plantings to 24.1 million acres, down from a previous government estimate of 24.8 million, and also below the average trade guess of 24.77 million. Rusagrotrans cut their forecast for this year's Russian grain crop to 98 MMT, down from 105.3 MMT a year ago, on dryness in some areas. The head of the Russian Grain Union said that they may drop their wheat production forecast from the current 55 MMT when they release their next estimate. Dryness and extreme heat in many parts of Europe this week might be trimming wheat production potential there. The EU Commission today cut their forecast for this year's EU wheat crop from 141.46 MMT to 139.95 MMT versus 148.76 MMT a year ago. Jul 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.14 3/4, up 34 1/4 cents; Jul 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.93 1/4, up 21 3/4 cents; Jul 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.22 1/4, up 18 1/4 cents.

French Grains Rise To More Than 1-Year Highs

30/06/15 -- EU grains closed mostly higher, getting support from firmer US markets following the afternoon release of the USDA's latest US acreage estimates and quarterly stocks reports, and with the Paris market again buoyed by the weak euro.

At the close, Jul 15 London wheat was down GBP0.05/tonne to GBP117.65/tonne and Nov 15 London wheat was GBP0.35/tonne higher at GBP132.00/tonne. Sep 15 Paris wheat closed up EUR2.75/tonne at EUR201.25/tonne, Aug 15 Paris corn jumped EUR8.00/tonne at EUR186.75/tonne, whilst Aug 15 Paris rapeseed was up EUR5.25/tonne to EUR397.25/tonne.

For Paris wheat, corn and rapeseed this was the highest front month close in more than a year, helped by the weak euro with the market anxious ahead of tonight's GMT 22.00 deadline for Greece to make a crucial loan repayment to the IMF.

Very warm and dry weather across much of Europe this week may be taking some of the shine off potential wheat, corn and rapeseed yields too this year, adding a bit more support to the market.

The EU Commission cut their forecast for the 2015 EU soft wheat crop from the 141.46 MMT estimated previously to 139.95 MMT, a 5.9% fall on 148.76 MMT a year ago.

They did however raise their corn production estimate a little from 68.13 MMT to 68.45 MMT, although that's still a 7% decline compared to last year.

A Bloomberg survey estimated the EU soft wheat crop a little higher, with an average trade guess of 140.6 MMT. The range of estimates was still pretty wide even at this relatively late stage in the game at 137.4 MMT to 145 MMT.

The same survey put the EU all wheat crop at 147.7 MMT, down nearly 10 MMT on a year ago for a drop of 6.3%.

The French all wheat crop was estimated at 39.2 MMT, from within a range of 37.8-40.5 MMT, and up slightly on 39.2 MMT a year ago.

The German all wheat crop was forecast at an average of 25.7 MMT, down 7.6% on a year ago. The range of guesses for that were 24.9-27.0 MMT.

The President of the Russian Grain Union said that the organisation may cut it's Russian wheat production estimate from the current 55 MMT forecast due to excessive dryness and also wetness in various parts of the country.

He also said that the official Ag Ministry's spring wheat planting estimates may be too high.

Russia's new export duty on wheat kicks in tomorrow.

The Ukraine Ag Ministry said that the 2015 early grain harvest had been completed on 188.2k ha, or around 5% of the planted area, producing 573.6 TMT of grains so far with an average yield of 3.04 MT/ha. A year ago at this early stage average yields were 2.78 MT/ha.

Of course winter barley accounts for the vast majority of what has been harvested so far (171.7k ha), producing a crop of 537.2 TMT to date, although a small area of winter wheat is also said to have been cut. Ukraine growers have also begun harvesting winter OSR, the Ministry said.

Chicago Grains Closing Comments - Monday

29/06/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed mixed, from up a half cent to down 6 cents. Weekly export inspections of 296,860 MT were a 40% increase from the week before. The USDA reported 2015 US soybean planting at 94% complete, up from 90% a week ago, but still 3 points behind the 5-year average. Kansas has caught up a bit to be 86% planted, although that's still 10 points behind normal. Missouri is only 62% done versus 94% typically at this time. Emergence was placed at 89% versus 94% for the 5-year average. The USDA said that 8% of the crop is now blooming, one point behind the 5-year average. Good to excellent crop conditions fell 2 points from last week to 63% which is now 9 points behind last year at this time. "Big declines for IL (-8%), IN (-9%) and OH (-11%) were reported for a second week and were joined this week by MI (-8%). The soybean crop in OH fell to 44% gd/ex which is down 25% over the past two weeks while IL rating are down 18% over the past two weeks and IN is down 22%," noted Benson Quinn. The trade is now looking to tomorrow's USDA acreage and quarterly stocks report. A Bloomberg survey pegs US 2015 soybean plantings at an average 85.332 million acres versus the USDA's March figure of 84.635 million. The range of guesses is 83.76-86.80 million and plantings in 2014 were 83.701 million. For June 1 US stocks the average estimate is 679 million bushels, from within a range of estimates of 604-773 million and versus 405 million a year ago. "Stocks anything less than 730 million should be bullish as implies USDA is overstating old crop ending stocks," said Benson Quinn. Jul 15 Soybeans closed at $10.02 1/2, up 1/2 cent; Nov 15 Soybeans closed at $9.80, down 6 cents; Jul 15 Soybean Meal closed at $341.90, up $0.60; Jul 15 Soybean Oil closed at 33.05, down 17 points.

Corn: The corn market closed with mostly small losses. Weekly export inspections came in at just over 1 MMT, in line with where they have been for several weeks now. The USDA cut good to excellent corn crop ratings by 3 points to 68%, down from 75% this time last year. "Biggest declines were in the eastern corn belt with -19% in OH, -10% IN and -8 in IL," noted Benson Quinn. "Heavy Midwest rainfall developed from strong thunderstorms once again last week. It was the 4th consecutive week of excessive rainfall in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Missouri. The cumulative June rainfall has reached 8 to 12 inches on Midwest farms compared to 4 inches, normally. The new forecast continues wet in a wide swath of the Midwest farm belt from Missouri into Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The forecast for June 29-July 5 is significantly cooler than previously. This would slow down evaporation in the soggy areas of the Eastern Midwest. Temperatures are predicted to fall 3-6 F below normal," said Martell Crop Projections. The USDA also said that 4% of the 2015 US corn crop is now at the silking stage, half of the 5-year average. A Bloomberg survey estimates 2015 US corn plantings in tomorrow's USDA report at 89.136 million acres, from within a range of guesses of 88.10-91.742 million, little changed versus the March USDA figure of 89.199 million and down 1.6% from last year's 90.597 million. June 1 US stocks are pegged at 4.557 billion bushels. The range of estimates is 4.35-4.70 billion and a year ago stocks were 3.852 billion. Ukraine said that they'd exported 18.8 MMT of corn so far this season. Russia said that they'd exported 2.9 MMT of corn, a 27% drop on a year ago. Jul 15 Corn closed at $3.83 1/4, down 1 3/4 cents; Dec 15 Corn closed at $4.02 1/4, up 1/4 of a cent.

Wheat: The wheat market closed with decent gains, building on Friday's advances. The front month July CBOT contract has now gained 12% in three sessions, noted Agrimoney. This was "a reflection of what is going on with the soft red winter wheat crop, and the disappointing pace of harvest," they said. The USDA reported the 2015 US winter wheat harvest at 38% complete, up from 19% a week ago and not that far behind the 5-year average pace of 46% done at this time. Top producing state Kansas is 48% done compered to 60% normally. They left winter wheat crop conditions unchanged at 41% good to excellent, and raise spring wheat one point to 72% G/E, which is now 2 points ahead of this time last year. They said that 49% of this year's spring wheat crop is headed compared to only 29% typically at this time. The wet weather is causing quality issues with winter wheat, which has pushed Chicago wheat to trade at an unusual premium to the Kansas market. Weekly export inspections of 316,515 MT were fairly modest, but in line with trade estimates. A Bloomberg survey estimated US all wheat plantings for tomorrow at 55.707 million acres, from within a range of guesses of 55.10-56.80 million and versus 56.822 million a year ago and the USDA's March forecast of 55.367 million. US June 1 wheat stocks were seen at 712 million bushels, with a range of estimates of 650-765 million and versus last year's 590 million. Russia said that it had exported more than 30 MMT of grains so far this season, up 19% on a year ago. That includes 21.3 MMT of wheat, a 17% increase compared to 2013/14 and 5.3 MMT of barley, up more than 200% on a year ago. Ukraine said that it had exported 10.83 MMT of wheat so far this season, along with 4.46 MMT of barley. Jul 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.80 1/2, up 18 1/4 cents; Jul 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.71 1/2, up 12 1/4 cents; Jul 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.04, up 8 1/4 cents.

EU Grains Build On Friday's Gains, Greek Tragedy Weakens Euro Further

29/06/15 -- EU grains traded higher, playing catch-up with strong gains posted in US markets on Friday night, and with Paris grains supported by further euro weakness.

At the close, Jul 15 London wheat was up GBP2.90/tonne at GBP117.70/tonne, Sep 15 Paris wheat was EUR4.275/tonne higher at EUR198.50/tonne, Aug 15 Paris corn was up EUR5.25/tonne at EUR178.750/tonne, whilst Aug 15 Paris rapeseed traded EUR0.75/tonne firmer at EUR392.00/tonne.

News that talks between Greece and its creditors failed to reach an agreement (again) over the weekend, and the Greek government have now announced that banks there will be closed all week, with cash withdrawals limited to just EUR60/day to try to prevent a further run on bank deposits, saw the pound rise as high as 1.43 against the euro at one point - a level that hasn't been seen since 2007.

William Hill have apparently closed their book on betting on a Grexit saying that the situation is now too volatile. Others still have Greece remaining in the Eurozone as an "odds-on" favourite, although it's starting to look like not as big a certainty as it was.

Betfair puts it as a 67 percent chance that Greece will stay in the eurozone this year, down from an 86 percent chance only a week ago, report Bloomberg.

The IMF will be anxious to check their post in the morning, with a $1.6 billion Greek repayment falling due. I suspect that they will discover that Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was out of the office and unable to sign that one some how.

For now, Barclays maintain their view on a pound/euro exchange rate of 1.45 by the end of the year, rising to 1.47 in Q1 of next year.

Further euro weakness down the line should continue to be friendly for Paris grain prices.

In other news, the Canadian Wheat Board estimate this year's canola crop there at 12.6-13.0 MMT, down 16.5-19.0% on last year's 15.56 MMT, and around 2 MMT below the USDA's current 14.8 MMT forecast.

That's just the latest in a series of downgrades for rapeseed production around the globe this year, with sharp falls in output also being predicted in the UK, France, Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Australia too.

APK Inform reported that Russian seaports exported 198 TMT of grains last week, down from 336.6 TMT the previous week. Last week's total included 156 TMT of wheat, 24.8 TMT of corn and 13.9 TMT of barley.

The Russian Ag Ministry say that this season's grain exports (to Jun 24) are now in excess of 30 MMT, including 21.3 MMT of wheat (a 17% increase on a year ago), 5.3 MMT of barley (up more than 200%) and 2.9 MMT of corn (down 27%).

APK Inform said that Ukraine's seaport grain exports were also down sharply last week, at 233.2 TMT versus 575.8 TMT the previous week. Last week's total included 78.7 TMT of wheat and 154.5 TMT of corn.

The Ukraine Ag Ministry said that the country had now exported 34.36 MMT of grains (to Jun 26) this season. That includes 10.83 MMT of wheat, 4.46 MMT of barley and 18.8 MMT of corn.

They also said that he country had now harvested 280.4 TMT of new crop grains and pulses (mostly winter barley), with yields averaging 2.6 MT/ha, along with 7.2 TMT of winter rapeseed, for which early yields have averaged 1.68 MT/ha.