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Field grain analysis can help determine the success of your fertiliser programme

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With harvest just beginning, now seems a sensible time to draw breath and assess the season before harvest gets in full swing followed in short order by establishing next year's crops.

And what a season it's been. Yes, there have been weather events to talk about, especially the dry April and for some also the first half of May and most of June, but these pale in comparison to the economic impacts we've seen in the last 12 months.No more so than in my world of fertiliser, where an initial new season price for AN back in June 2021 - at 81p/kg N (£280/t) - was considered by some to be too expensive, only to then rise dramatically during the season to an eye watering £2.68/kg N (£925/t) at the peak.

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Frontrunner - 8th July 2022

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The General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) adopted a change to its method for wheat import purchases this week, entering into direct talks with exporters in preference to where it usually holds a general purchase tender. Egypt bought around 444,000 tonnes, adding to the 815,000 tonnes it bought last week, split between Russia with 214,000 tonnes, France with 170,000 tonnes and 60,000 tonnes from Romania. 

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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Frontrunner - 1st July 2022

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The General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) made its largest single wheat purchase for over 13 years this week, buying 815,000 tonnes for shipment during August, September and October. Last weekend, the Egyptian Minister for Supply and Internal Trade said his country needed to import ten million tonnes of wheat over the next six months while having secured 3.9 million tonnes from local farmers and having wheat reserves sufficient for almost six months.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is ready by marketing assistant, Becca Russell. 

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Frontrunner - 24th June 2022

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World wheat futures have fallen sharply this week, as highlighted by the US Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), for which wheat values declined almost 9.5% since last Friday's close. These losses have been driven by fears of demand destruction in light of failing economies, unaffordable high commodity prices and grain that remains trapped in Ukraine.

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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Frontrunner - 17th June 2022

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Late last Friday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its June World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report but it made few changes to the previous month's wheat and corn world balance sheets. However, markets rallied from the low levels of trading before the report, where traders had squared long positions in case of bearish data.

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

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Frontrunner - 10th June 2022

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Recent market weakness has been driven by expectations that a solution will be found for releasing trapped Ukrainian grain for shipment through Black Sea ports. This week, meetings took place in Turkey with Russian officials to secure safe routes for grain exports. Russia said that Ukraine must demine approaches to ports and that Russian forces would check ships entering Ukrainian ports which could then load grain and proceed to international waters.

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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Frontrunner - 27th May 2022

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Wheat futures markets have again been volatile this week and have fallen sharply with losses extending by over 10% from the record highs reached earlier this month. Long liquidation and speculative selling gathered pace in response to newswire reports that Russia would provide a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine. Analysts estimate that over 21 million tonnes of grain will be trapped in Ukraine by the end of this season due to the Russian navy blockade of the country's Black Sea ports. The loss of Ukrainian grain supplies to the world's major importers has been the primary wheat price driver since the Russian invasion in February and has been the main element contributing to the prevailing global food crisis.

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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Frontrunner - 20th May 2022

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The world's wheat futures markets opened the week with another notable rise in prices, setting new record highs following the news that India would ban wheat exports with immediate effect. The Indian government reacted to fears of an intense heatwave during March which cut yields, sending the country's domestic prices to record highs.

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

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Frontrunner - 13th May 2022

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The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its May World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report this week along with its eagerly awaited first look at the 2022-23 season. The report contained lower than expected production for US winter wheat and corn. Additionally, it outlined lower than expected world wheat stocks which sent markets sharply higher again. European wheat futures rallied again and set new contract highs.

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

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Frontrunner - 6th May 2022

The primary price driver for the world's wheat markets continues to be the impact on supply chains resulting from the conflict in Ukraine. Traders have been assessing how the world's major wheat importers can source alternative wheat supplies and had found that India was able to fulfil some of the shortfall. India had been expecting to harvest a record wheat crop of up to 111.3 million tonnes, which would be its fifth consecutive year of record production. Furthermore, its wheat exports had the potential to reach eight million tonnes.

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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Nitrogen guidance for milling wheat


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At this time of year, I'm often asked: "How much nitrogen should I apply to my milling wheat crops?" My tongue-in-cheek response to that question is often: "Tell me exactly how much your crop is going to yield and then I'll be able to give you a guide on nitrogen rates." Now, clearly it is impossible to know the exact yield you are going to achieve at this stage so a definitive answer will always be hard but even so, I believe all milling wheat growers should fully understand the impact yield has on the nitrogen requirement for their crops.

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Minimising nitrogen losses in your fertiliser programme

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Last year, I wrote a blog on how to increase nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) to improve your farm efficiency rating and part of this looked at the impact of nitrogen losses.Following on from this DEFRA recently announced a non-regulatory approach which outlines how to reduce ammonia emissions from any urea-based fertilisers.

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Frontrunner - 29th April 2022

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There are new contract highs for 2022 European new crop wheat futures this week, as markets continue to react to the longer-term threats to Black Sea wheat supplies - particularly those from Ukraine. The London November 2022 contract passed £300/t for the first time and the old crop May 2022 contract set a new record with a high of £332.20/t.

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

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Frontrunner - 22nd April 2022

European wheat futures started the post-easter bank holiday weekend with strong gains, with both the Paris and London new crop markets setting new contract highs in early trade following stronger US wheat markets. Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) futures were higher on the latest crop condition report and the overall situation is worse than trade expectations. Winter wheat slipped two points to just 30% good/excellent, this compares to 53% last year and trade expectations at 33%. The crop condition index has only been worse in one of the past 35 years at this stage of development.

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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Frontrunner - 14th April 2022

New crop European wheat futures rallied further this week and set new contract highs, reflecting trade concerns around the prospect of a long-term conflict between Ukraine and Russia. London November 2022 wheat futures briefly touched £295/t, almost double its initial trades and the contract low made in September 2020.

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

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Frontrunner - 8th April 2022

Grain markets have continued to see volatile trading and early in the week US wheat futures rallied following the first 2022 national crop condition and progress report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Winter wheat crops are in a particularly poor condition, with ratings as bad as they have ever been at this time of year, with the exception of the 1996 crop. Crops have suffered from prolonged dry conditions, expanding drought and storms in December.

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

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Frontrunner - 1st April 2022

Wheat markets continue to experience notable price volatility in response to developments in the conflict in Ukraine. US wheat futures fell sharply on Tuesday to their lower trading limit and to their lowest level since 1st March. This is in response to encouraging comments made in peace talks being held in Istanbul.

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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Frontrunner - 25th March 2022

Global wheat markets experienced another week of notable price volatility in the wake of the continuing Russia-Ukraine conflict. European wheat futures struck new contract highs due to increasing fears that there will be no short-term end to the conflict and that there will be significant cuts to Ukrainian 2022 grain production.

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

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Frontrunner - 18th March 2022

Wheat futures continued to see volatile trading this week as the trade reacted to the impact of the worsening conflict between Russia and Ukraine. There were early notable falls in prices with reports that peace talks between Russia and Ukraine were making some headway and that all five of Russia's Black Sea ports were operating normally for grain shipments.

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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Frontrunner - 11th March 2022

The escalating conflict following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and subsequent fears for future wheat supplies from the Black Sea led to extreme volatility in the wheat market this week, resulting in new record highs for futures markets. Wheat futures rose to their highest on record this week, with Paris futures exceeding €400/t and London futures rising above £300/t, breaking the previous record set in 2008.

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

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