Frontrunner - 21st June 2019



  • UK wheat trades lower

Futures and physical prices lost around £5-£7 this week in the UK. For now, the rains have subsided and a warm, sunny weekend is forecast which is good news for developing wheat crops. Domestic consumers are fairly relaxed as crops with huge potential look set to yield well should the sunshine continue. The same is true across Europe, where there is no adverse weather forecast to threaten the huge wheat acreages drilled in the key exporting nations. Rainfall seems confined to the south-east corner of the EU and with harvest in the Northern Hemisphere about to begin in earnest, it feels as though prices could come under further pressure in the short-term.

  • US corn losses underpin global prices

Global markets are still underpinned by the disastrous US corn planting campaign and it feels like this will remain a feature until crops are harvested in the autumn. Monday's crop progress report put plantings at 92% versus 100% average but there's still a lot for the market to consider. Acreage and yields will be lower so it's no surprise US corn has been trading at five-year highs. However, it feels as though the supply side has been well documented and is priced into the global feed grain complex; what we're now seeing is more scrutiny on the demand side. High US export prices set against cheap offers from South America and the Black Sea mean any demand we see in the short term will be mopped up by the competition and it's likely we'll see big revisions to US export figures as a result.


  • Crops prospects in UK improve
Thankfully, recent rainfall has slowed this week and the upcoming warm weather and sunshine will allow the plants to make the most of the time left before harvest. This should allay fears of nitrogen and screening levels – especially on the spring malting barleys – and it should improve barley yields in general. In the meantime, harvest has started in Spain and South West France so we expect to hear more conclusive results this time next week.

  • Weather story issues are not over in USA or Ukraine/Russia
It has been a rather muted week on the US futures markets as corn plantings reached 92%. However, most North American commentators are now asking what that means, as ongoing wet and cold weather isn't great for plantings already dogged by a late wet start. Further reductions in production are almost a certainty but they will be tempered by reductions in export potential from the USA due to other cereals taking a larger share of the world livestock diet. 

In the remaining Northern Hemisphere supply area of Ukraine and parts of Russia, corn crops got off to a great start but low rainfall and rising temperatures are raising concerns for spring cropping in general. This is one to watch as much of the EU's corn imports came from Ukraine in the '18/'19 crop year. With EU feed compounders having below average cover, a hike in Ukrainian corn values would make wheat and barley even more attractive than it is today.


  • Challenging weather continues to hamper progress

The undesirable weather in the US Plains persists, creating challenging conditions for growers trying to plant soybeans. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that only 77% of the crop was drilled versus 96% last year and against a five-year average of 93%. Time is now running out and although Prevent Plant dates in most states are kicking in, some growers are still attempting to plant. However, the forecast for the next 7-10 days continues to show unwanted levels of precipitation.

  • Political developments

The G7 meeting next week could provide a platform for further trade talks between the US and China. Already, tweets from Donald Trump have been enough to push South American FOB premiums lower on the week.

  • World stocks

Rapeseed markets have largely been a follower of the action in soybeans. The Canadian crop has been planted and some much needed rain has arrived. Canadian producers continue to sit on large stocks of canola.

European production is going to be lower year-on-year but the world market does not seem to be short of rapeseed. Analysts are talking up Ukrainian production, with rumours of 4 million tonnes potentially being harvested there this year and a re-bound in Australia is expected.


  • Positive outlook for current crop

The growing crop continues to benefit from near perfect conditions. In a few areas, the recent heavy rain has damaged and removed a few petals on later drilled spring beans but, in general, disease levels are low and all crops are now podding up. Autumn and winter sown crops are looking particularly promising.

  • Pre harvest feed bean values

In the run up to harvest, feed bean values remain largely unchanged with £200 /t ex farm available in most areas. Even at these higher starting prices, many growers are reluctant to lock in any tonnage; preferring to wait until volume and quality are known.

  • Buy-back bean contract

Next week, we will be launching our new buy-back bean contract for harvest 2020. Please contact your local Frontier farm trader for details.


  • Nitrogen

This week, the new season nitrogen market slowed down a little as the second offer (£5 higher for September) gets established. The UK price has been closely tracking the European levels and, following Thursday's announcement by Yara France that they are moving up by 13 euros for 33.5%, CF Fertilisers have today (Friday 21st June) withdrawn all terms and will re-issue on Monday. However, with continued pressure from a plentiful supply of imported nitrogen in most areas of the UK, it's hard to see a higher price from CF Fertilisers being easily established.

  • Urea

The current situation in the Gulf and the impact on the key shipping lanes which transport urea is still causing concern for ship owners. However, the currency situation is the bigger driver on prices. This week, we have had the first offers from July – November delivery. Speak with your Frontier contact for more information.

  • Milling wheat protein

There is a significant risk of yield diluting grain protein due to recent rain. Field results taken in the last week have still shown a demand for 20-40kgs nitrogen, regardless of variety. Foliar nitrogen will be essential in virtually all crops to achieve the 13% protein specification. Multi N, available from Frontier, is rainfast in 30 minutes, carries a very low scorch/volatilisation risk and can be conveniently delivered in IBCs. It should be applied at the early, milky ripe stage and mixed with a decent amount of water (around 120lts/ha). Delivery can be made in 48 hours – please speak to your Frontier contact. 

View markets, set price alerts, manage contracts and take advantage of extended trading hours with
MyCropMarketing, Frontier's online grain marketing platform. 

Meet the team at various events this year
Frontrunner - 14th June 2019

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