EU Wheat Remains Under Pressure From Sluggish Exports

26/02/16 -- EU grains closed mixed on the day, but mostly lower for the week.

At the finish, front month Mar 16 London wheat was down GBP0.40/tonne at GBP101.50/tonne, Mar 16 Paris wheat fell EUR0.25/tonne to EUR145.25/tonne, Mar 16 Paris corn was up EUR1.50/tonne to EUR146.25/tonne and May 16 Paris rapeseed was up EUR1.50/tonne to EUR350.00/tonne.

For the week that puts nearby London wheat GBP2.75/tonne easier, with Paris wheat down EUR6.75/tonne, corn - the only net weekly gainer - up a quarter of a euro, and rapeseed EUR3.75/tonne easier.

Although the differential between old crop May 16 and new crop Nov 16 London wheat was reduced a little today, it still ends the week a touch higher than it began it at GBP12.40/tonne - the equivalent of more than a GBP2.00/tonne per month carry.

That's a large sum, an one that partially explains the unusually large volume of old crop currently being carried potentially into 2016/17.

You'd have to say that this weighty gap between old and new crop can't last forever, and at the moment there's nothing on the horizon looking likely to come along galloping to the rescue of old crop. Additionally, current new crop sales commitments are light, potentially adding further pressure to this position as it draws nearer (especially for those with a barn full of old crop still to place).

We are now almost two thirds of the way through the 2015/16 export campaign. This week's soft wheat export licence total of 761 TMT from Brussels takes the EU-28 total so far to 17.7 MMT, which is 15% down versus 20.8 MMT this time last year.

Barley export certificates of 302 TMT take the 2015/16 total to 6.9 MMT, up 11% compared to 6.9 MMT at this point in 2014/15. Corn import licences meanwhile stand at 9.5 MMT.

Having started off rather slowly, wheat exports have picked up of late, and a decline of 15% year-on-year is where we have now been at for the past few weeks. The problem there is that the USDA only see these falling 8% this season. Barley exports meanwhile have slowed up - they were running more than 30% of last season at the start of 2016 - although the USDA currently predict these falling year-on-year by 15%.

FranceAgriMer kept their estimate on both French the winter wheat and barley crop conditions unchanged form a week ago today at 94% good to very good, both being 4 points ahead of this time last year.

The Russian Ag Ministry increased their forecast for spring grain plantings to 31.05 million. The area under corn will rise sharply from just under 2 million to almost 3 million ha, they say.

Spring plantings are just about underway in Russia, a bit earlier than normal under much warmer than usual conditions.

Morocco are tendering for 132,500 MT of barley on the domestic market. Their 2016 grain crop is likely to be significantly reduced by dryness this year. so we can expect a bit more import activity from them later in the season.

Chicago Grains Comments - US Growers Finally Falling Out Of Love With Wheat

25/02/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed lower as weekly export sales disappointed. These came in at only 328,300 MT for 2015/16, down 34 percent from the previous week and 23 percent from the prior 4-week average. Trade ideas were for sales of 300-700 TMT. Exports of 1,495,500 MT were down 13 percent from the previous week, but up 10 percent from the prior 4-week average. The USDA's February Outlook Forum suggested that US growers might plant 82.5 million acres to soybeans this spring, only slightly lower than the 82.7 million acres that were planted in 2015. Ideas are that the worst is over for Brazil, and production estimates there are now on the increase. AgroConsult increased their forecast to 101.6 MMT from 99.2 MMT previously. MDA CropCast increased their estimate for Brazil by 0.72 MMT to 99.43 MMT, a 3.7% increase on last season and of course a new record. Mar 16 Soybeans settled at $8.59, down 8 1/2 cents; May 16 Soybeans settled at $8.65 1/2, down 6 3/4 cents; Mar 16 Soybean Meal settled at $260.00, down $2.90; Mar 16 Soybean Oil settled at 30.65, down 27 points.

Corn: The corn market closed in the region of 4 cents lower. Weekly export sales were in line with trade estimates at 934,400 MT for 2015/16, which were down 11 percent from the previous week, but up 10 percent from the prior 4-week average. Exports of 870,700 MT were a marketing-year high, being up 19 percent from the previous week and 36 percent from the prior 4-week average. The USDA's Outlook Forum pegged US 2016 corn plantings at 90 million acres, a bit higher than trade ideas of 89.7 million and 2 million up on a year ago. MDA CropCast left world and US corn production in 2015/16 unchanged fro a week ago. The IGC added 10 MMT to their world corn production forecast from a month ago, taking that now up to 969 MMT. Mar 16 Corn settled at $3.55 1/2, down 4 1/4 cents; May 16 Corn settled at $3.60 1/2, down 4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed a touch higher, rebounding from yesterday's 5 1/2 year lows. Weekly export sales of 387,900 MT for delivery in the marketing year 2015/16 were up 53 percent from the previous week and 77 percent from the prior 4-week average. There were also new crop sales of 98,300 MT. Exports of 230,000 MT themselves though were a disappointment, being down 32 percent from the previous week and 27 percent from the prior 4-week average. Egypt's GASC tendered for wheat, buying one cargo each of French, Argentine and Ukraine origin as well as two from Romania. The average price paid was around $185.50/tone C&F, some $20/tonne or so below US material. There are signs that US growers are finally falling out of love with wheat, with the USDA Outlook Forum pegging total acres for 2016 at 51 million, the lowest since 1970 and 3.6 million down on last year. May 16 CBOT Wheat settled at $4.54, up 2 3/4 cents; May 16 KCBT Wheat settled at $4.57, up 3 1/4 cents; May 16 MGEX Wheat settled at $4.91 3/4, up 3/4 cent.

Old Crop London Wheat Dragged Into The Mire

25/02/16 -- EU grains closed mixed, although old crop London wheat set new lows once more as it gets dragged every close to trading in double figures.

At the close of trading, Mar 16 London wheat was down GBP0.80/tonne at GBP101.90/tonne. In Paris, Mar 16 wheat was unchanged at EUR145.75/tonne, Mar 16 corn was up EUR0.50/tonne at EUR145.75/tonne and May 16 rapeseed wad down EUR3.00/tonne to EUR348.50/tonne.

Egypt's GASC was back in the market for wheat, paying between $175/tonne for French and $179.65/tonne for Romanian wheat. That's far cheaper than the $183/tonne paid for French origin and between $187.90/tonne and $188.65/tonne paid for Russian material just a week ago.

Saudi Arabia posted a tender for 770,000 MT of hard wheat and Tunisia were said to have purchased 75,000 MT of durum wheat.

Other wheat tenders are still kicking around form Algeria, Thailand and the Philippines, but even so there's still a feeling that the world is drowning in wheat.

Defra raised their figure for the UK's 2015 wheat crop by almost 300,000 MT to over 16.4 MT - the largest harvest since 2008. They also cut domestic consumption by over 100,000 MT to 14.7 MMT, raising the exportable surplus 38% to nearly 4 MMT. With only 1 MMT exported in the first half of the season, that sets the stage for carryover stocks of at least 2.4 MMT going into 2015/16 unless demand picks up.

Barley production was also revised higher giving us the largest barley harvest since 1997. "The barley surplus available for either export or free stock was also revised up in yesterday’s forecasts, taking it to 28% higher than 2014/15. Taking into account season to date exports of 760 TMT, this leaves 1.95 MMT available for export during January-June or to be carried over into next season," noted the HGCA.

It's handy then that sterling is so weak, although there's not been much sign of the UK being knocked over with foreign interest thus far.

The old crop/new crop London wheat spread continues to widen, and tonight stands at GBP12.95/tonne on the May16/Nov16 position, up from GBP7.65/tonne on the last trading day of 2015.

Whilst that may be offering UK growers something of a comfort blanket, the fact remains that new crop has still fallen GBP9.20/tonne during this time, so it's really only a money-making strategy if you are short of old crop - something which I suspect that 99% of UK growers aren't.

So, where do we go from here? US wheat growers are already voting with their John Deere's and are expected to plant the smallest area to wheat since 1970, according to preliminary data out today. Their decision will of course have been influenced by expectations for the US dollar to continue to firm in 2016.

EU plantings are seen "about unchanged" though - up to 80 year highs in fact in France in fact where carryover stocks to kick off 2016/17 are also unusually high.

Production is anticipated 30% lower in Ukraine, but even so they are inevitably cheap sellers during the first quarter or two of the season at least, which takes us all the way into 2017 before we can expect some respite from cheap Black Sea competition.

Chicago Closing Comments - Wednesday

24/02/16 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed a touch lower. US exports are seen staring to slip away as the Brazilian harvest cranks up, with trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report in the region of 300,000 to 700,000 MT for beans. That said, there are already reports of backlogs staring to build in Brazil, with current waiting times in Paranagua 50-60 days compared to 20 days last year at this time, according to Dr Cordonnier. It's the USDA Outlook Forum this week, where they give us some tentative spring planting ideas before they release the more official planting intentions report at the end of March. Mar 16 Soybeans settled at $8.67 1/2, down 1 3/4 cents; May 16 Soybeans settled at $8.72 1/4, down 3/4 cent; Mar 16 Soybean Meal settled at $262.90, down $0.30; Mar 16 Soybean Oil settled at 30.92, up 17 points.

Corn: The corn market drifted a couple of cents lower. Weekly ethanol production from the US Energy Dept came in at 994,000 barrels per day, an increase of 19,000 bpd from the previous week. The USDA announced that private exporters sold 110,000 MT of US corn to Columbia this morning for 2015/16 delivery under the daily reporting system. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report are forecast in the region of 700,000 MT to 1.2 MMT. Crude oil closed a tad higher despite Saudi Arabia and Iran stating that they have no plans to slow production. Dollar strength, and the forecast for more to come in 2016, remains a potential problem for US corn exports going forward however. Mar 16 Corn settled at $3.59 3/4, down 2 1/4 cents; May 16 Corn settled at $3.64 1/2, down 2 1/4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed lower. Sluggish US exports remain the main problem, with tomorrow's weekly export sales report seen coming in at around 200,000 and 450,000 MT. There are international buyers about, with Iraq tendering for US, Canadian and/or Australian wheat. Algeria are also looking for hard wheat and the Philippines and Thailand for feed wheat. Egypt too released another late tender tonight with the results expected tomorrow afternoon. Platts said that with 4 1/2 months left to go in the 2015/16 marketing year that they expect Europe to export a further 12.5 MMT of wheat. Russia may export another 5.8 MMT and the US 8.1 MMT, they said. India's wheat crop meanwhile will fall around 7 MMT to 89 MMT, meaning that the country may need to import between 1-4 MMT of wheat in 2015/16., they added. May 16 CBOT Wheat settled at $4.51 1/4, down 4 1/2 cents; May 16 KCBT Wheat settled at $4.53 3/4, down 2 3/4 cents; May 16 MGEX Wheat settled at $4.91, down 1/2 cent.

New Lows For EU Grains

24/02/16 -- EU grains continue to grind mostly lower, with further sterling weakness seemingly unable to support London wheat.

At the finish, Mar 16 London wheat was down GBP0.70/tonne at GBP102.70/tonne, Mar 16 Paris wheat was EUR4.50/tonne lower at EUR145.75/tonne, Mar 16 corn fell EUR1.25/tonne to EUR144.25/tonne and May 16 rapeseed was down EUR2.50/tonne to EUR351.50/tonne.

For both London and Paris wheat these were the lowest closes on a front month since the summer of 2010. For corn tonight's close was the lowest since Nov 2014. and for rapeseed this was the lowest since last August.

Both sterling and euro weakness seemed to make little difference today. The pound crashed below $1.40 against the US dollar for the first time since Mar 2009 as the BoE chief Carney commented that he now wasn't ruling out the next move on UK interest rates being a cut if necessary.

The May 16/Nov 16 old crop/new crop spread on London wheat finished the day at GBP12.15/tonne, up from GBP10.45/tonne at the beginning of the month and versus GBP7.65/tonne at the turn of the year.

"The growing price difference between this season and next continues to offer an alternative to releasing grain onto a depressed spot market for forward sellers that have access to both storage and finance," said the HGCA.

You could say that if the market doesn't want old crop wheat at GBP102.70/tonne now, who's to say it will want it in November at GBP116.95/tonne even if the outlook for the pound is bearish?

That's a difference of almost 14%. If the pound was to simply match that fall in euro terms between now and then, then we'd be looking at an exchange rate close to 1.08 come November, and a cross rate of just 1.20 versus the US dollar.

ABN Amro are bearish, but not that bearish, today forecast sterling falling to $1.35 this year, and a EUR/USD low of 1.05.

Rabobank trimmed its forecasts for Paris wheat futures prices by up to EUR15/tonne from previously citing "ferocious competition abroad".

Prices at multi-year lows are flushing out some buyers. Iraq are tendering for 50 TMT of US/Canadian/Australian hard wheat. Algeria are in the market for at least 50 TMT of optional origin hard wheat for Apr/May shipment. Thailand seem 256 TMT of feed wheat for Aug/Dec shipment and the Philippines are looking for 110 TMT of similar for May/Jul delivery.

Ukraine said that planting of early spring grains there was now underway.

Chicago Grains Fall In Turnaround Tuesday Style

23/02/16 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed with double digit losses in Turnaround Tuesday type trade. Production estimates in Brazil seem to be rising. Safras said that nationally Brazil's 2015/16 soybean harvest is 34% complete, up from the average pace at this time of only 21% done. IMEA said that in the leading producing state of Mato Grosso the harvest is 39.4% done. They now estimate production in MG at a new record 28.51 MMT, up around 700,000 MT from previously and versus 28.09 MMT a year ago. Dr Cordonnier raised his Brazilian soybean production estimate 1 MMT to 99 MMT. However, as a record crop looms, there's already a growing lineup of vessels waiting at the ports. "As of late last week, there were 163 vessels waiting at Brazilian ports to load 9.7 million tons of grain. The vessels are waiting to load 7.5 million tons of soybeans and 2.2 million tons of corn. The lineup is more than double that of last year at this time when 66 vessels were waiting to load 4.1 million tons of grain," he says. Mar 16 Soybeans settled at $8.69 1/4, down 11 3/4 cents; May 16 Soybeans settled at $8.73, down 11 1/4 cents; Mar 16 Soybean Meal settled at $263.20, down $1.70; Mar 16 Soybean Oil settled at 30.75, down 74 points.

Corn: The corn market ended the day around 5 cents lower. Dr Cordonnier raised his Brazilian corn production estimate by 800,000 MT to 84 MMT. IMEA said that in Mato Grosso the safrinha corn crop is now 41.8% sown, forecasting production at 19.97 MMT, a 600,000 MT increase on previously. CONAB are to attempt to auction off 150,000 MT of state-owned Brazilian corn reserves today. UkrAgroConsult pegged their early 2016 Ukrainian corn production estimate at 24.5 MMT. APK Inform report one analyst in the country is predicting corn shipments in 2015/16 to account for around 46% of all grain/oilseed exports. The main buyers of Ukrainian corn in 2015/16 will be Spain, taking 24% of all corn exports, followed by the Netherlands and Egypt (12% each), they predict. Crude oil was lower after the Saudi oil minister commented that they anticipate global demand to slow up. Mar 16 Corn settled at $3.62, down 5 1/2 cents; May 16 Corn settled at $3.66 3/4, down 5 1/2 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed lower. South Korea purchased 67,000 MT of US wheat overnight. The EU's MARS said that a relatively mild winter thus far means that many EU winter wheat crops are far from fully hardened against a hard frost, should one come along. Apart from that crop conditions are pretty good in Europe with not much tro worry about. Not so in Ukraine, which is expecting sharply lower wheat production in 2016 after adverse weather conditions cut plantings last autumn. UkrAgroConsult predicts 2016/17 Ukrainian wheat production at 17.3 MMT, down 30% from 24.8 MMT in 2015/16. Ukraine's total grain harvest is likely to fall 10% to 52.2 MMT, they predict. Whilst some of the area intended for winter wheat will go into corn, oilseeds such as sunflower and soybeans should also get a boost in acreage. Mar 16 CBOT Wheat closed at $4.48, down 10 1/2 cents; Mar 16 KCBT Wheat closed at $4.46 1/4, down 7 1/2 cents; Mar 16 MGEX Wheat closed at $4.85 3/4, down 7 cents.

New 5-Year Low For London Wheat Despite Brexit-Led Sterling Weakness

23/02/16 -- EU grains closed mostly lower again. Having traded mixed earlier, late weakness in US grains spilled over into European trade.

At the finish, front month Mar 16 London wheat was down GBP1.80/tonne at GBP103.40/tonne, Mar 16 Paris wheat fell EUR2.75/tonne to EUR150.25/tonne, Mar 16 corn was EUR1.00/tonne lower at EUR145.50/tonne and May 16 rapeseed was down EUR1.75/tonne to EUR354.00/tonne.

The pound remains "fragile" as the BBC puts it on concerns over a "leave" vote on the question of Brexit in the June referendum. That keeps sterling hovering around a 7-year low versus the US dollar (falling close to $1.40 today), and it's worst since the beginning of the year against the euro.

Citibank said that the chances of a Brexit are now as high as 40% after Boris Johnson declared that he'd be backing a "leave" vote. Goldman Sachs are saying that the pound could fall to $1.15 if we do vote to leave the EU, according to the Telegraph.

The uncertainty of it all at the very least could support London wheat a little across the next few months. That's the theory at least, although this was a new near 5-year lowest close for a front month tonight.

As far as the fundamentals go though nothing much has changed, very large/record world and EU wheat stocks and slack demand currently lead to the potential for a vary large carryover from 2015/16 into new crop.

There are a few lingering concerns that a late hard freeze could damage EU wheat. "In most regions of western and central Europe, the hardening status of winter cereals has not improved, and remains lower than usual due to the persistence of above-average thermal conditions," said MARS.

"In the region between eastern Germany and central Ukraine, as well as in southern Russia, a slight increase in frost tolerance was simulated during the second half of January; whereas in central Europe and western Ukraine, the process of de-hardening started in early February due to well above-average daily temperatures," they noted.

"As a consequence, winter crops are practically not hardened in western and southern Europe, Germany, Romania, southern Poland, and western Ukraine," they added.

In Ukraine, sharply lower wheat production is already expected this year, regardless of what the weather does between now and harvest time. UkrAgroConsult are predicting production 30% lower at 17.3 MMT, following reduced plantings in the autumn and an unfavourable start to the growing season.

Much of the land that didn't make it into winter wheat will probably go into sunflower and corn production this spring.

In other news, Saudi Arabia said that it has 1.8 MMT of state-owned wheat reserves, up from 1.6 MMT a year ago, and sufficient to last it 6 months. Despite current low prices this has been keeping them out of the import market lately, but they expect to return fairly soon, according to an article on Reuters.

Chicago Grains Close Monday

22/02/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed higher, helped by strong weekly export inspections of 1.531 MMT, more than 50% up on the same week a year ago. Aboive cut their estimate for this year's Brazilian soybean crop by 0.9 MMT to 98.5 MMT. That's still a record crop, although one which is now 1.5 MMT less than the USDA estimated earlier this month. China were reported to have imported 5.656 MMT of beans in January. Mar 16 Soybeans settled at $8.81, up 2 3/4 cents; May 16 Soybeans settled at $8.84 1/4, up 3 1/2 cents; Mar 16 Soybean Meal settled at $264.90, up $0.40; Mar 16 Soybean Oil settled at 31.49, up 10 points.

Corn: The corn market closed with gains of around 2-3 cents. Firmer global crude oil markets and weekly export inspections of 900,323 MT were supportive - the latter being up 30% from the previous week. YTD inspections are still 19% below the previous year though. The USDA also announced that private exporters sold 100,000 MT of US corn to Colombia under the daily reporting system. ADM were reported to have shut down its sugarcane ethanol plant in Brazil and are also said to be considering selling some of its ethanol plant assets in the US. China said that they'd imported 290,000 MT of DDGs is January compared to only 7,900 MT of corn. Mar 16 Corn settled at $3.67 1/2, up 2 cents; May 16 Corn settled at $3.72 1/4, up 3 cents.

Wheat: The market closed mixed. At the risk of sounding like a broken record exports are what the US wheat market needs. Weekly export inspections then of only 245,464 MT were once again less than impressive. These were more than 50% below the same week in 2014. Following it's latest purchase on Friday, Egypt's GASC now says it has enough wheat bought to cover it's needs until June. China reported January wheat imports tof 241,000 MT. Around a third of Ukraine's winter wheat crop is said to be in poor condition. Texas winter wheat is rated 41% good to excellent. May 16 CBOT Wheat settled at $4.64, down 2 3/4 cents; May 16 KCBT Wheat settled at $4.63 1/2, down 2 3/4 cents; May 16 MGEX Wheat settled at $4.98 3/4, up 1 cent.

EU Grains Mostly Higher, Brexit Talk Sees Pound At 7-Year USD Low

22/02/16 -- EU grains finished the day mixed, but mostly a touch higher. London wheat got bit of help from widespread Brexit coverage in the media over the weekend - and again today.

At the close of trading, Mar 16 London wheat was up GBP0.95/tonne at GBP105.20/tonne. In Paris, Mar 16 wheat was up EUR1.00/tonne at EUR153.00/tonne, Mar 16 corn was up EUR0.50/tonne at EUR146.50/tonne and May 16 rapeseed rose EUR2.00/tonne to EUR355.75/tonne.

The pound hit a fresh near 7-year low against the US dollar, falling close to 1.4050 at one stage, as it was revealed that Boris Johnson is advocating leaving the EU.

For all the talk of the BoE following the US Fed higher on interest rates early in the new year that abounded less than 6 months ago, many pundits are now factoring in years before UK interest rates begin to rise again.

"Moody's said it would consider downgrading the UK's credit rating if the country voted to leave the EU," the BBC reported. Fitch agency were more cautious however, they noted.

Current polls put the chance of a "leave" vote ate being pretty remote - although things con change between now and June and the last General Election polls didn't prove to be too accurate.

Whatever, it all creates a feeling of uncertainty, which looks like keeping the pound weak.

Whether a weaker sterling helps UK wheat exports too much though remains to be seen.

French wheat was comfortably the cheapest offer in yesterday's GASC tender, so there's ground to be made up there.

News that FranceAgriMer peg their 2015/16 ending stocks at a 17-year high, with exports falling 6% underlines the stiff foreign competition angle.

Don't for get too that the French analysts also rated winter wheat conditions there at 94% good to very good, and that plantings for the 2016 harvest are forecast at the highest levels since the 1930's.

Elsewhere, Ukraine said that winter grain germination rates were 92% and that 67% of these crops were in good to satisfactory condition. That leaves an area of a third (2.2 million ha) rated as weak/thinned. The figures for winter OSR are very similar.

Russia said that it's season to date grain exports were 23.814 MMT, including 17.755 MMT of wheat - a 5% decline on a year ago.

Force Majuere

22/02/16 -- As many of you have noticed, blogging here has been a bit of a minimalist activity lately. Especially across the past fortnight when it's been non-existent.

I do however claim "force majuere" in that I've been undergoing treatment for throat cancer since December. I thought I'd say nothing and largely keep on top of it, which I've just about manged to do, posting at least two daily market reports for EU and Chicago grains though 3 chemotherapy and 35 radiotherapy sessions during this time.

Thank God then, I mistakenly thought, when the last radiotherapy session finally came around on Fri Feb 5th. At least things could then finally start to get back to normal. Or so I thought.

On Fri Feb 5th, some of you will have been at the Locust Dinner in Liverpool, filling your fat faces with beer, wine, G&T's and whatever else took your fancy.

Unfortunately not me. My "back to normal" consisted of an impromptu free ride in an ambulance to A&E after my last radiotherapy treatment seemed to prove one too many and this wretched thing decided that enough was enough and it was going to make a desperate bid for freedom, and make a right mess of the Laura Ashley duvet set and curtains en-route at Chez Nogger.

Think of a cross between a scene from Carrie and the Witches of Eastwick, but without the cherries.

And that was only the start of it. At A&E they decided that I was in need of an emergency tracheotomy, not something I would recommend without the benefit of a general anaesthetic,

"If you feel any pain wiggle your foot," I remember the doctor saying. At one point the look on the assembled faces of doctors and nurses switched to one that became rather urgent and concerned. The dialogue between then did too. Cue panic. By the time he'd finished I was wiggling everything, just to make sure that he'd got the message.

An hour or two to pull myself together passes before another free ambulance ride, this time to York.

Here another team are waiting to do another op to stem what's left of the bleeding from what's left of the tumour in my throat. Except for various reasons they can't just go in through the throat, or even anywhere  remotely near the throat - this baby is done via camera on tubes and stuff that go in via the groin.

There are consent forms to fill in, saying that there's a bit of a risk that you could go blind, have a stroke etc, etc. Minor trivia like that, where do I sign?

Luckily the op went well. Where the pneumonia came from I'm not so sure, but come along it did, laying me lower even further.

Oh, did I mention that during most of this time I'm on a strict Nil by Mouth regime? And I mean not even a sip of water. My delicious evening repast is fed via a tube straight into my stomach - why they don't flush it straight down the bog & be done with it I don't know. My twice daily "milk shakes" aren't a lot to write home about either.

The pain killers I'm on cause some interesting complications in the bottom department, which makes coughing a bit of  a lottery, as you never know what 's going to come out from where, especially shortly after "lunch".

An I haven't even told you about Jeremy yet have I? Sleeps like a baby all day, but wanders around the ward pole dancing with his antibiotics on a stand at night, clattering into things and generally being a right pain in the arse.

I find myself drawing up mental "top tens" for when this is all over - drinks, food (is a bacon butty higher than a steak, hmmm, difficult), recuperation destinations (in the UK), recuperation (non-UK) etc.

Drinks funnily enough right now is headed by a tall glass of fresh Spanish style orange juice with lots of ice. God I miss that satisfying "thirst quenching" experience that you get from a long cold drink.

Anyway, the bastards finally let me out Friday. It's good to be back. Service will slowly return to normal.

If you are one of the many that will have emailed me across the past few weeks, I haven't even dared look at my inbox yet, I will start to work my way through that in the coming days.

Chicago Grains Close With Little Change Friday

19/02/16 -- Soycomplex: Weekly export sales of 595,770 MT fell within the range of trade expectations. China (346,000 MT) was the top home. Exports of 1,780,300 MT were up 35 percent from the previous week and from the prior 4-week average, with China taking more than 1 MMT of that total. AgRural estimated Brazil's 2015/16 soybean crop at 23 percent harvested, up from last week’s 16 percent and a touch ahead of the long term average of 21 percent. Flooding in parts of Argentina is getting some media attention. Mar 16 Soybeans settled at $8.78 1/4, down 1 1/2 cents; May 16 Soybeans settled at $8.80 3/4, down 2 cents; Mar 16 Soybean Meal settled at $264.50, up $1.00; Mar 16 Soybean Oil settled at 31.39, down 44 points.

Corn: Weekly export sales of sales of 1,050,700 MT for 2015/16 were up noticeably from the previous week and 20 percent from the prior 4-week average. There were also sales of 247,200 MT om new crop for Japan. Exports of 728,900 MT were up 38 percent from the previous week and 21 percent from the prior 4-week average. Total old crop commitments are still only 75% of what they were this time a year ago though. They also announced 101,600 MT of US corn was sold to Japan for 2015/16 delivery under the daily reporting system. As producer margins bite, John Deere said that they expect US equipment sales to drop 10% in 2016, 3% more than in their previous forecast. Mar 16 Corn settled at $3.65 1/2, unchanged; May 16 Corn settled at $3.69 1/4, down 1/2 cent.

Wheat: The wheat market closed mixed. Exports remain the problem. Weekly export sales from the USDA were an unimpressive 253,600 MT for delivery in marketing year 2015/16. For 2016/17, net sales of 54,200 MT were reported for Thailand (29,200 MT) and unknown destinations (25,000 MT). Exports of 339,300 MT were down 10 percent from the previous week, but up 15 percent from the prior 4-week average. Egypt bought one cargo of French and 3 of Russian wheat with US material well put-priced. They also bought 30,000 MT of US HRS wheat for blending with wheat they had in storage - the first such buy on 6 years. France said that it's 2015/16 soft wheat ending stocks would total 6 MMT, some 200,000 MT more than previously. Winter wheat there is estimated at 94% good to very good. May 16 CBOT Wheat settled at $4.66 3/4, down 1 3/4 cents; May 16 KCBT Wheat settled at $4.66 1/4, up 3 1/4 cents; May 16 MGEX Wheat settled at $4.97 3/4, up 3 1/4 cents.

EU Grains End Mostly Lower For The Day And Week

19/02/16 -- EU grains closed mostly a little lower on the day and for the week.

At the finish, Mar 16 London wheat was down GBP0.35/tonne at GBP104.25/tonne, Mar 16 Paris wheat was EUR0.75/tonne lower at EUR152.00/tonne, Mar 16 corn was flat at EUR146.00/tonne and May 16 rapeseed fell EUR2.25/tonne to EUR353.75/tonne.

For the week that puts nearby London wheat GBP0.50/tonne lower, with Paris wheat down EUR3.00/tonne, corn EUR3.75/tonne lower and rapeseed falling EUR2.25/tonne.

Large world stocks, relaxed demand and stiff export competition remain the prevalent stories for wheat.

Brussels last night confirmed 733 TMT worth of EU soft wheat export licences for the past week. Not a bad week, but at just short of 17 MMT the season to date total still lags last year's pace by 15%.

Barley exports of 254 TMT were also authorised, taking the 2015/16 total to 6.6 MMT. That's up more than 13% on a year ago, but this percentage is now falling significantly from where things were earlier in the season.

Egypt's GASC bought 240 TMT of wheat in a tender, with one 60 TMT cargo coming from France and the rest of Russian origin, after they appeared to have a rethink on attempting to introduce a zero tolerance to ergot. All were for March 15-25 shipment.

The prices reportedly paid were $183/tonne plus $8.40/tonne freight for the French wheat and between $187.90/tonne and $188.65/tonne plus $6.50/tonne freight for the Russian material. These are some of the lowest prices paid in years, yet GASC are content to only pick away with their purchasing whilst the market continues to drift.

GASC also made a rare purchase of 30 TMT of US hard red spring wheat it was revealed in separate data.

FranceAgriMer raised their forecast for 2015/16 soft wheat ending stocks there by 200 TMT to a 17 year high 6 MMT.

They also said that the French winter wheat crop is 94% good to very good, up from 91% a year ago.