Important updates and advice regarding coronavirus (Covid-19)

Frontrunner - 19th February 2021

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A period of extreme cold has affected the primary US winter wheat producing states in recent days. Temperatures nearing record lows of between -15-20°c have been recorded as far south as Texas and concerns that wheat crops will be subject to winter kill has triggered volatile trading in Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures. Prices rallied to their highest since the end of January as the chief meteorologist of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggested crops in Texas and Oklahoma had been lost to the severe cold.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by farm trader, Nigel Dring.

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Frontrunner - 12th February 2021

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The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its February World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report on Tuesday this week, which many traders expected to present a very bullish picture for world grains, particularly corn.

Last week's record US corn sales to China coupled with adverse South American weather over the past month, which has impacted on corn production prospects for Argentina and Brazil, encouraged further buying. Prior to the publication of the WASDE report, these circumstances had taken US Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) corn futures to new contract highs; the highest for 7.5 years.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by marketing assistant, Faye Lee.

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Economic and yield returns: The results of SOYL’s variable rate nitrogen trials in 2020

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At SOYL, we have been running an extensive precision farming research and development programme for nearly 30 years. The work is central to the value of our technology and services, and today we now possess one of the largest trial databases in the world. A significant part of this work involves trials to compare our variable rate application approach against flat rate applications.

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Frontrunner - 5th February 2021

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Last week's Frontrunner reported China making significant purchases of US corn. China bought over six million tonnes, which helped take total US weekly corn export sales to 7.44 million tonnes for the period up to the 28th January. This is a record high, doubling the previous weekly high set back in 2012.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that US 2020-21 exports will reach 64.77 million tonnes, which will leave US ending stocks nine million tonnes down on the year at 39.42 million tonnes.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by farm trader, Ollie WIlson.

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The Big Farmland Bird Count: A celebration of wildlife and conservation work on farm

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The Big Farmland Bird Count is an enjoyable and rewarding event in the agricultural calendar and 2021 sees it return for its eighth year.

The count, organised by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), will take place between 5th-14th February during which farmers and land managers are encouraged to spend time recording the number and species of birds they see on farm. Participants share their findings via the Big Farmland Bird Count website, with the results helping the GWCT to monitor wild bird populations and record the positive effect of conservation and supplementary feeding efforts on farms across the country.

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Frontrunner - 29th January 2021

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Early this week, world wheat futures markets continued to be pressured by speculative long holder selling. Losses extending from the contract highs reached last week have resulted in futures markets losing almost all the price gains they had made since the start of January. Losses for London wheat futures were almost £15/t. However, further political intervention that will disrupt grain flows partnered with soaring Chinese import demand helped generate a rally from the lows. This highlighted how market price volatility may be expected to continue.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by farm trader, Sophie Cath.

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How will variable rate nitrogen affect my sulphur applications?

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It's one of the first questions we face from growers when discussing variable rate nitrogen (VRN) and it's understandable given sulphur is one of the major nutrients required by plants. If optimum amounts aren't available, it will have a direct impact on end yield.

As it happens, in nearly all of these conversations our recommendation to growers is to apply sulphur variably alongside their nitrogen in order to achieve optimum yields and quality. Of course, as with all nutritional decisions, some forward planning is required.

With this in mind, we're going to address some common questions to help you plan for the spring and ensure you get the maximum benefits from variably applying sulphur.

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Timing, species and methods: Considerations if you're destroying your cover crop

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How we design and manage profitable, efficient crop rotations can be influenced by the use and management of available cover crop positions within them. When incorporated well, they can lead to the introduction of wider sustainable crop establishment systems, having the potential to gradually reduce some crop inputs and the overall cost of crop establishment.

If you have a good cover crop that has been successfully absorbing available nutrients, improving soil structure and supporting soil biota, you may be wondering what to do. First and foremost, careful thought and consideration is required when planning your next move. 

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Frontrunner - 22nd January 2021

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US wheat futures peaked last Friday, ending the 30% price rally that began last August. Futures markets had become technically overbought and were due a correction. US markets were closed for a public holiday on Monday but Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures subsequently posted four consecutive days of losses. London wheat futures peaked on Monday, setting a contract high price that hasn't been seen since January 2013 before following US markets lower during the week.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by farm trader, Lottie Bauer.

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Frontrunner - 15th January 2021

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Few World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) reports from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) trigger a market reaction such as the reaction triggered by the report released earlier this week. A report with such futures volatility following a period of prolonged market price gains hasn't been seen since 2012/13.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by key account manager, Zoe Andrew.

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Frontrunner - 8th January 2021

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World grain markets have started the new year with sharp gains, led higher by US soybean and corn futures. Prolonged dry weather and a rainfall deficit for developing corn and soybean crops across both Argentina and Brazil are raising concerns that yields will be adversely affected amidst strengthening export demand, particularly from China. Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) corn and wheat futures rallied to highs this week not seen since 2014 as speculative funds continued to buy and established record-long positions. Price gains for corn futures have reached 50% since the summer.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by marketing assistant, Faye Lee.

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'Farming is changing': The end of the BPS era

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With 2021 now underway, we are officially at the beginning of the end of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) era. The transition to the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme has started, and we're sure that many of you are wondering what this move is going to entail.

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Frontrunner - 18th December 2020

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Russia, the world's leading wheat exporter, officially confirmed it would introduce a €25/t export tax in the new year. The tax will be applied to its 17.5-million-tonne export quota, which begins on the 15th February and runs to the 30th June 2021. Traders are unlikely to exceed the quota in light of the news that tonnage which surpasses this figure will be taxed at 50% of the sales value.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is read by marketing assistant, Faye Lee.

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Optimising nitrogen inputs: measuring residual N with satellite imagery

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I'll admit that at first sight filling your tractor with oil and planning your nitrogen applications don't appear to have much in common but in one simple way they are very similar. Before you do both, you need to know how much you've already got in the tank or in the soil, so you know exactly how much more you need to put in.

When it comes to nitrogen applications, rates should only be decided once you have fully assessed the requirements of your crops. As well as thinking about inputs, this also means making an informed judgement on how much nitrogen will be supplied by your soils.

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Frontrunner - 11th December 2020

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World wheat markets posted sharp gains this week, recovering much of the losses they had made since the end of last month. The primary driver for these positive moves was news that Russia may introduce additional measures to control wheat exports. Russia has previously established a quota of 17.5 million tonnes to limit wheat exports between February and June 2021, but so far this has proved to have little impact on its domestic market prices.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by farm trader, Sophie Cath.

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Frontrunner - 4th December 2020

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US Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures continued to fall this week and by close of business on Thursday were 10% below the 4-year highs they peaked at in October. The increasing size of the Australian, Canadian and Indian wheat crops as well as a proposed increase in Russian export quota combine to signal ample wheat supplies and a bearish feel to markets.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is read by farm trader, Lottie Bauer.

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How we supported this year's gold medal YEN winner, Tim Lamyman

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This week we were delighted to hear that one of our customers, Tim Lamyman, has scooped both a silver and gold medal in this year's Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) competition. Congratulations, Tim!

The 2019/20 cropping season was one that none of us will forget in a hurry, with one of the wettest autumns and winters in recent history. This was followed in quick succession by a drought and low levels of incoming solar radiation during the key grain filling period. 

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Frontrunner - 27th November 2020

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In a trading week that was shorter than usual due to Thanksgiving, there has been little fresh wheat news. Instead, markets have been buoyed by China's continued purchasing of US corn. With another 200,000 tonnes purchased last week, the market continues to predict China's overall demand. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has estimated it will reach 7.2 million tonnes while other private analysts are estimating that China will tender up to 30 million tones of US corn.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by Faye Lee.

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Frontrunner - 20th November 2020

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World wheat markets stalled this week with a lack of any fresh bullish features to drive them higher again. US Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures drifted as their winter wheat crop rating made modest improvements following recent rains. 46% of the crop is rated 'good' to 'excellent' and is up one point on the week. This is still well behind this time last year when 52% of the crop received this rating.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is read by farm trader, Ollie Wilson.

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Using grain protein to plan your nitrogen rates

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The nitrogen inputs to your crops can be one of the most important factors that influence crop output and, ultimately, the profitability of your business. There is a wealth of tools and information to help guide you when it comes to applying the optimum rate of nitrogen, but how do you know if you are actually getting it right and making the best use of these applications to maximise your financial return?

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