Frontrunner - 15th June 2018



  • Markets lose grip

World wheat markets have reversed sharply this week; with US wheat giving away nearly a month's worth of gains. Weather markets are still in play but the stresses in some regions have abated, as rains aid establishment in Australia and improve corn and spring wheat conditions in the US. However, there are still enough flags against Eastern Europe, the Ukraine and Southern Russia where crops are maturing under sub-optimal conditions. Any sort of production shock still has the potential to shake markets whilst being the most price competitive and important supply region of the globe.

  • End of season antics

Domestic markets have concertinaed into the last two months of old crop trade. Prices have weakened over the week as the pace of supplies coming forward quickens ahead of demand. From a quality wheat perspective the opposite can be said, as available farm lots dwindle to a trickle and demand to millers remains unfulfilled through to the new crop transition in August. Premiums have climbed almost in a straight line over past weeks to over £25/t over feed and look set to hold until the relief of new crop comes along.

From here on the focus as a producer should be in keeping an eye to pricing new crop, with forward price levels not seen since 2013. 


  • Swing in prices

It has been a volatile week for malting barley. The market moved higher in the early part of the week due to the continued dry weather in Scandinavia and concerns around the impact on both yields and malting quality. Towards the end of the week Denmark received some much needed rainfall, with more in the forecast over the weekend and through into next week. As a result the market retreated on this news. Many parts of the UK could do with rain in the near future, and the market remains nervous with plenty of uncertainty about malting quality around Europe.

  • Harvest date prediction

Old crop feed barley has come under pressure this week, as the expected harvest date was predicted to be coming forward. Feed barley remains at attractive levels.


Rapeseed prices continue to be on the defensive this week as the markets digest improving conditions in Australia and Canada, almost ideal soybean conditions in the US and a cooler weather forecast in Northern Europe. In addition, a firmer sterling is not helping to support new crop values.

  • Australia & Canada

Timely rains have fallen in both countries, allowing for a more optimistic outlook on the growing canola crop.

  • US soybeans

With the crop in the US now planted and emerged, the good to excellent rating was 74%. Soybean condition index score is 383 versus 368 the previous year. The ten-year average condition score is 370. The weather forecast in the Midwest and Delta for the next few weeks is decent, with no real heat and some precipitation. This, combined with fears over the potential trade war with China, keeps taking values lower.

Today, Trump announced £50 billion worth of tariffs against China.

  • Europe/Black Sea

Oilseed rape harvest has started in Romania and Ukraine but with less than 5% done it remains very early days. Weather is still being watched in Northern Europe, as Northern Germany and the Baltic States have suffered with a prolonged dry period with high temperatures. Crop analysts have dropped yields in these areas accordingly. As we hit mid-June, the outlook was for a slightly cooler and wetter forecast. Conditions in the UK remain almost ideal for grain fill and crop potential looks promising.


  • New crop

The new crop bean market continues to follow the fortunes of wheat and, with the sell off last week, we see bean values trading down £2-3/tonne in most areas. That said, the crop is still growing well and responding to the favourable weather conditions, although we will need to see some rain in East Anglia in the next two weeks to be assured of a good crop.


  • New season terms

This week the fertiliser trade has been dominated by the release of new season terms, first from CF Fertilisers and then Yara. Rising prices in urea and natural gas, together with a firm market in continental Europe, lead CF Fertilisers to start the market well above £200/tonne with most early trades being done close to £220 per tonne. The key factor this year has been the strict allocation of product from both major manufacturers for specific months. In fact, many distributors found that with existing commitments from growers, they were already sold out of the first June offer on day one of the campaign. July terms were swiftly released at a premium of £7 to June and again, this offer was quickly filled. Current August values for UK ammonium nitrate are in the £230-£235 range and with an outlook of further increases, farmers are advised to take up this offer while it lasts.

Whilst these levels are higher than many were expecting, they are being offset to a certain extent by higher grain prices than we saw this time last year.

  • Nitrogen sulphur

Sales of nitrogen sulphur grades have also been brisk. With the main 'branded' products selling out fast, there have been a number of alternative products available – talk to your Frontier contact for more details.

  • Urea

In other markets, urea is still in limited supply with offers for August at around £250-£255.

  • DAP, TSP and MOP

DAP, TSP and MOP are all beginning to firm on the back of currency and the general rise in fertiliser prices.

Yields in well established winter wheats look to be on course for above average in many areas and it is worth considering a top up of foliar nitrogen (multi N) to assist with grain proteins.

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