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Frontrunner - 21st March 2024

Speculative fund short covering has driven wheat futures higher in recent days, led primarily by gains in the Paris market. The May 2024 contract breached €200/t on Tuesday which was the market's highest level since 27th February 2024.

The funds had built record short positions in the Paris wheat market but improved physical wheat demand, Black Sea supply concerns and EU political moves have been the catalysts to trigger a need to reduce the exposure to potentially higher prices.

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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Specialist and environmental crop mixes: The importance of quality seed

When it comes to specialist mixes and crops designed to deliver specific benefits to the environment and wider farm or estate, making sure you're using high quality seed is paramount. If not, you could be looking at some unwelcome issues, increased time and effort spent managing your crops, poor performance overall and even putting the wider rotation or environment at risk.

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Learnings from sugar beet fungicide and biostimulant trials

Last year I shared some advice in this blog about managing sugar beet to optimise yield, and in it I contemplated what kind of results the autumn was going to bring given some of the widespread late planting we saw.

Now that we're well into 2024, it was great to see the majority of sugar beet crops doing well throughout the tail end of last year. However, for many crops harvest was delayed until January 2024 due to the wet autumn and frosts in early December. 

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Frontrunner - 14th March 2024

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its March World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) late last Friday afternoon, trimming end stocks for both world wheat and corn which helped to lift prices.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is read by agronomist, Alex Pope.

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Frontrunner - 7th March 2024

Earlier this week, both US and French wheat futures fell sharply again and struck new contract lows.

Wheat futures have nearly lost half their value from their peak in May 2022 and are under pressure from abundant world wheat supplies and cheaper export sales from Black Sea origins. Offers are reported to have fallen below $200/t FOB – the sterling equivalent of £157/t for milling quality on a vessel at a Black Sea port. 

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 Whiteman. 

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Variable rate nitrogen trials results

As the season has been so challenging, it's great to be able to demonstrate the positive results from our variable rate nitrogen (VRN) trials which can make a difference on farm. In this blog, we'll be talking through the benefits and value of this technology, as well as how the findings from the trials can be replicated on your farm to achieve the same positive results.

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Frontrunner - 29th February 2024

So far, 2024 has proven to be disappointing for wheat prices. London wheat futures lost 20% of their value over the first seven weeks of the new year, but in week eight they managed to reverse the trend and for the first time this year closed higher on the week. There was little to be bullish about and the gains were more a desire for speculative traders to lock in profits as wheat futures bounced higher from their contract lows.

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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Early nutrition strategies for winter cereals: challenges and solutions

The recent wet and mild conditions have brought early crop nutrition into sharp focus and you may be looking to address some of the negative impacts on any autumn-drilled cereal crops.

During autumn 2023, most of the UK experienced significantly above average rainfall and this depleted soils of any residual nitrogen. There's also no doubt that rooting was compromised due to waterlogging. 

This blog is a combination of insights and guidance for crop nutrition, variable rate technology and biostimulants – all of which can play an important role in your spring strategy to boost biomass and maximise profit margins. If you follow some of the below guidance, any lacklustre crops should stand the best chance of turning things around in time.

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Frontrunner - 22nd February 2024

So far, 2024 has been a bad year for wheat prices under the weight of world grain.

This is now heavier according to the International Grains Council who raised its latest world corn production estimate by four million tonnes to a total of 1.234 billion tonnes, now 71 million tonnes up on last year. World wheat production was left unchanged at 788 million tonnes.

London wheat futures have lost over 16% of their value since the end of last year and they struck a new contract low earlier this week. Subsequently, a spell of short covering for world markets delivered a £7/t gain and signalled a pause in declining prices. Growers who had set triggers in Frontier's MyFarm online pricing system were notified of this and were able to take advantage of the short reversal in trend.

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. You can also hear from pulses manager, Andy Bury.

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Frontrunner - 15th February 2024

Late last Wednesday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its February World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report and there were very few changes from January's numbers. Year-end stocks for both world wheat and corn will be less than estimated in the previous month's report, but the cuts made were insufficient to halt the slide in wheat prices seen since the beginning of 2024.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is read by agronomist, Alex Pope. 

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Looking back to LAMMA: The benefits of a closed transfer system

Last month, I had the privilege of talking about Frontier's closed transfer system (CTS) at LAMMA as part of the event's Live Theatre sessions. I was thrilled to be able to bring this innovative piece of technology to the show, highlighting the benefits it's already bringing many farmers and sprayer operators at a time when on-farm safety, product stewardship and sustainable farming are extremely important.

While at the event, I had great conversations with visitors about the equipment – many of whom had questions about the technology as well as the practicalities of adopting it on farm. I thought it'd be great to reflect on these discussions here and explain why the closed transfer system is proving such a valuable solution for many growers.

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Frontrunner - 8th February 2024

By midweek, European wheat markets established new contract lows and extended their 2024 price decline.

Slow demand, uninterrupted wheat exports from the Black Sea and no tangible weather issues has seen London wheat futures shed £25/t in value since the end of 2023. There seems little in sight at this stage to arrest the current trend. 

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 Whiteman. 

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Could maize be the answer for your 2024 rotation?

Throughout 2023, the weather played its part for many maize growers. Adverse conditions made the task of growing a successful crop interesting to say the least.

Maize sowing was delayed in many areas due to a very wet March and April. It was then followed by drought conditions into June where the heat set maize on its way to record harvest yields. July arrived and so did the rain - just in time for cereal harvest! It almost feels like it hasn't stopped raining since.

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Frontrunner - 1st February 2024

World wheat prices continued to fall this week, extending the decline that has prevailed since the beginning of 2024. The Paris and London wheat futures markets both fell to new contract lows - the lowest prices seen since July 2021. Over supply and slow demand have encouraged speculative selling, with managed money traders holding record short positions in the Paris market.

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 - 25th January 2024

This week UK wheat futures have fallen to new contract lows despite support for US and European wheat markets.

UK feed wheat prices remain around £10/t too expensive to compete for export market share. Traditional UK feed wheat EU export destinations, such as Spain and Ireland, continue to find cheaper offers from other origins and there is no shortage of sales opportunity should prices become competitive.

The EU has so far imported 5.4 million tonnes of wheat - 3.65 million tonnes of that has come from Ukraine. UK exports remain stagnant at less than 130,000 tonnes shipped for the first half of the season, signalling a potential carryover of over three million tonnes of stock into next season.

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 January 2024

Last Friday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its first World Agricultural Supply Demands Estimate (WASDE) for 2024, presenting a bearish set of data for both wheat and corn. Subsequently, futures wheat prices dropped sharply and both the Paris and London markets established new contract lows.

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 Whiteman.

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Providing farmland birds a lifeline this winter

As we enter early January and temperatures begin to fall, foraging time for farmland birds is at its lowest and food sources start to run out. This period is often referred to as the 'hungry gap' and usually lasts from December through to April - the hardest time for many of our beloved wild bird species to survive.

As we enter this peak period for food requirements, your carefully managed wild bird seed plots will start looking thinner and a lot of the seed will have fallen to the ground and been eaten. The good news is that growers and land managers are increasingly taking up the option of supplementary feeding, either as part of an existing Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme, Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme, or simply because it's a great thing to do.

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Frontrunner - 11th January 2024

This week world wheat markets have continued the new year in decent shape, as Russia continues to dominate wheat export share by under cutting other origins.

Paris wheat futures fell to new contract lows under the weight of old crop wheat supplies, despite concerns for 2024 production potential. In its latest tender to buy wheat, the General Authority For Supply Commodities (GASC) purchased 420,000 tonnes of Russian wheat for delivery through February and March at the Russian floor price $265 FOB. There was just one French offer which, including freight, was about $17/t too expensive to compete with the Russian sales, highlighting the competitive challenges in world trade.

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 - 5th January 2024

The new year hasn't been positive for wheat markets. Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) opened on the first trading day with heavy losses, as speculative funds started to rebuild short positions. European markets followed US markets lower, with Paris wheat futures setting new contract lows.

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 Whiteman. 

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Frontrunner - 22nd December 2023

World wheat futures markets are drifting into the festive period, with little change in value but trading above the season's lows.

There has been no shortage of international trade, however, with Saudi Arabia buying 1.3 million tonnes and Egypt securing 480,000 tonnes in the week before Christmas.

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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