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Frontrunner - 17th January 2020

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US wheat futures markets continued to rally earlier this week, reaching 14-month highs ahead of the US and China signing 'phase one' of their trade deal. Bullish traders were encouraged by the view that, in its part of the agreement, China would make significant purchases of US agricultural products and start buying notable volumes of US wheat. 

However, the text of the agreement stated purchases would be made at market prices based on commercial considerations. In other words, wheat purchases would only be made if the wheat was needed and prices were favourable. 

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Frontrunner - 10th January 2020

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The world wheat market took a bullish turn over the festive season and that trend has continued during the first full trading week of 2020. The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures hit highs not seen since last June. Politics, weather and trade have all combined to encourage prices to move higher.

US wheat futures found particular support when Donald Trump's administration confirmed that 'phase one' of the new trade agreement between the US and China would be signed on the 15th of January. Market bulls got very excited by this news, with rumours that China might fulfil its wheat import quota which would allow it to import up to 9.6 million tonnes of wheat in 2020. 

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Frontrunner - 20th December 2019

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This week the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published its final UK wheat area, yield and production estimates for 2019. There were minimal changes to its provisional estimates but the report included a reminder of how significant the crop was at 16.225 million tonnes.This is just 58,000 tonnes below the provisional estimate – the largest UK crop since 2015 and 2.67 million tonnes up on the 2018 harvest. 

Allowing for a minimal commercial carry out on paper, there is an exportable surplus of approximately 2.9 million tonnes. With 900,000 tonnes of that likely to be shipped by the end of this calendar year, there will be approximately 2 million tonnes to either compete for export or roll over to the 2020 season.

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Frontrunner - 13th December 2019

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Sterling reacted positively to the UK election result, gaining up to 2% versus the euro as the Conservatives secured a majority of at least 78 seats. However, this currency move is negative for wheat prices as it makes imports cheaper and exports more expensive. Wheat prices have had to adjust to counteract this, with London futures easing lower on Friday morning. 

Nevertheless, the fall in UK prices was limited as European and US markets moved higher. US wheat futures rallied on more positive news over the US trade dispute with China. 

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Polysulphate fertilisers could give pulse growers a spring boost

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Sulphur is a key component of successful crop production; as important as nitrogen when it comes to planning nutrient applications. A multi-nutrient sulphate fertiliser range from ICL called Polysulphate is one that we've recently introduced to our range and is something I am talking about to many of the growers I advise.

Two new Polysulphate products, PKpluS and PotashpluS are especially of topical interest to the increasing number of farmers considering spring pulses on the back of dismal autumn weather. 

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Frontrunner - 6th December 2019

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US wheat futures from the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) put on an impressive performance at the end of last week. Last Friday, they jumped the equivalent of £5 per tonne and saw overall gains of 10% since mid November. The sharp move was allegedly brought about by Southern Hemisphere crop problems – particularly comments from Argentina suggesting that the main wheat production areas would see 37% yield losses. 

However, these gains were not sustainable. US wheat quickly became uncompetitive in the global export market and CBOT futures have now all but lost last week's gains.  

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Frontrunner - 29th November 2019

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This week French wheat futures rallied to highs not seen since mid July. The strong EU export pace continued to progress and has now reached 10.77 million tonnes – 3.7 million tonnes ahead of last year. 

Slow farmer selling and ongoing wet weather conditions which are delaying the French corn harvest and winter wheat planting are both contributing factors to the rise in wheat prices. However, the French are still enjoying more favourable planting conditions than we are in the UK. By 25th November, wheat drilling in France had advanced 6 points during the week to 80% complete, but the crop condition fell 3 points during the week to 75% rated 'good' to 'excellent'.  

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Frontrunner - 22nd November 2019

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Official figures from France illustrate the issues that the current weather pattern is having on 2020 harvest potential in the west of Europe. In its weekly update on Friday, FranceAgriMer advised that French farmers had only advanced their winter wheat planting by 3% to 74% complete, compared to 97% this time last year. Additionally, there was a sharp drop in the crop ratings, with 78% seen as 'good' or 'excellent' which is down 6 points on the week and 4 points on last year.

The UK enjoyed a few dry days earlier this week, allowing land work to resume in some areas. Winter wheat drilling has progressed where conditions have allowed, whilst vast areas of the worst rain-affected counties have remained sodden. 

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Frontrunner - 15th November 2019

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Russian wheat exporters regained their competitive edge this week, securing significant sales to Egypt for delivery early January. Egypt bought 465,000 tonnes at just over $232 per tonne including freight and, although the two cheapest cargoes were from Ukraine, all the remaining 345,000 tonnes were of Russian origin. 

Russia was clearly determined to maintain their status as the leading supplier to Egypt, after having lost out to France in the previous week's tender.

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Frontrunner - 8th November 2019

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Concern over new crop wheat planting has driven prices this week. With an estimated winter wheat planted area of just 50%, compared to 95% this time last year, new crop wheat values moved up £7/mt.

Old crop wheat values have followed the new crop as farm selling remains light and domestic consumers still need plenty of cover for the balance of the crop year. 

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Frontrunner - 1st November 2019

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Brexit uncertainty and winter drilling delays in the UK continue to add volatility to wheat markets. Last weekend's Brexit extension significantly widened the window for tariff-free exports to the EU, which was seen by some as a bullish flag. 

In addition to this, the persistent deluge of rainfall continues to delay the drilling campaign with progress varying from one location and land-type to the next, so farmer selling of 2019 and 2020 crop has naturally slowed. As a result, London futures traded to £148.55 midweek which, along with new crop futures, was their highest level since mid-August.  

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Frontrunner - 25th October 2019

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WHEAT Markets treading water Wheat markets have moved sideways this week, lacking any fresh news. They are supported by the strong EU and Black Sea export pace, as well as mixed fortunes for winter drilling. By the end of last week, this season's EU wheat exports had exceeded 8 million tonnes, compared to 5.7 million tonnes this time last year...
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Frontrunner - 18th October 2019

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WHEAT Adverse weather supports UK prices The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) published their first provisional UK wheat supply and demand estimates for the 2019/20 season this week. The balance sheet contains the first production estimate from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affair (DEFRA) – 16.283 million ton...
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Frontrunner - 11th October 2019

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WHEAT USDA dampens grain markets The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published their October world supply and demand estimates on Thursday. Trader focus was on an expected cut in US corn yields given the delayed planting, plant maturity and harvest progress. However, the USDA actually increased yield albeit marginally on the previous...
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Frontrunner - 4th October 2019

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WHEAT Exports This week, UK wheat markets have continued to focus on export trade flows in the south and east coast ports, with the north and west seeing limited fresh consumer demand. The port pull remains strong, with lorry freight significantly under pressure as vessels continue to arrive for wheat (and barley) ahead of the potential Brext deadl...
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Frontrunner - 27th September 2019

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WHEAT Wheat prices continue to rise Demand for wheat supplies to UK ports saw prices rally to a near six-week high on Friday. This performance was matched by French wheat futures which were reacting to the fast EU export pace and a continued flow of tenders held by the world's major importers. Helped by continued euro weakness which hit a 28-month ...
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Frontrunner - 20th September 2019

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WHEAT Big crops get bigger? There is an old saying that 'big crops get bigger' and it seems that it is true. This week well respected analyst, Strategie Grains' September report increased the size of the 2019 EU-28 wheat crop again to 144.5 million tonnes. This is 1.6 million tonnes up on the estimate they made last month and a hefty 17.6 million t...
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Frontrunner - 13th September 2019

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WHEAT Latest USDA World Supply and Demand Report review The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published their September World Supply and Demand estimates on Thursday; it came with minor changes from the previous report and therefore no surprises. There were small cuts in world production for both wheat and corn, but increases in carry-...
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Frontrunner - 6th September 2019

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WHEAT UK wheat prices bounce London wheat futures, together with French wheat futures, fell to new contract lows early this week under the weight of high yielding crops. However, the UK market subsequently enjoyed a £5 per tonne rally and moved higher by an unexpected wave of short covering. London futures were technically oversold and UK wheat was...
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Frontrunner - 30th August 2019

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WHEAT UK wheat harvest progress As the UK wheat harvest progressed rapidly this week and pushed through 80% complete, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) estimated production might breach 16 million tonnes, the highest since 2015. They report yields of 8.8 to 9 tonnes per hectare which is 6 to 8% above average. However, with f...
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