Important updates and advice regarding coronavirus (Covid-19)

Frontrunner - 16th October 2020

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There has been little fresh news for markets this week, although on Thursday world futures markets posted significant rallies with many hitting new contract highs. Speculative funds were again assertive buyers of Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat and corn contracts as they continue to build significant long positions. Their stake in the markets is similar to those they held back in 2010 and 2012 when adverse weather severely cut wheat and corn output for many of the world's primary producers.

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

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Frontrunner - 9th October 2020

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The world's wheat futures markets rallied to new highs this week as prolonged dry weather conditions threatened wheat crops for some of the world's leading producers. Speculative funds were increasingly active buyers and took Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat prices to their highest level for five years. Wheat crops in Argentina and the US are suffering from a lack of rain, but it is dry soils extending across most of Russia that is raising the greatest concern. Russian farmers have planted over 70% of their winter wheat but ongoing dry conditions and warm temperatures could see newly planted seed fail to germinate...

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is read by key account manager, Zoe Andrew.

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Frontrunner - 2nd October 2020

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Late on Wednesday afternoon this week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its quarterly US grains Productions and Stocks Report and final 2020 US wheat production estimates. This is a quarterly report which often passes without much attention. Yet, the results of this report triggered a significant price rally for the world's grain and oilseeds markets. Supportive data was perhaps expected but not to the extent revealed.

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

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Greening post-2020: What does it all mean?

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As I'm sure many of you have noticed given the many news articles in recent weeks, there is still quite a bit of noise surrounding the change to greening rules for 2021.

While the announcement from George Eustice may have come on the 27th July, there is still an air of confusion amongst many growers, particularly in relation to current agreements and how best to plan ahead. This has been further amplified following the recent news confirming that there may now be a 'stepping stone' subsidy scheme from 2022 to cover the transition period to the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme which is due to launch in 2024.  If you're feeling uncertain about the requirements now or what to do next, we've put some answers to common questions below.

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Frontrunner - 25th September 2020

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Early this week, world wheat markets eased from their recent highs, with futures seeing some technical corrections. However, on Thursday, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) published the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) data; the content of which sent London wheat futures back to their contract highs. The BPS data suggests the UK wheat area for the 2019 harvest could be 3% smaller than the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) June survey stated.

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

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Frontrunner - 18th September 2020

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Late last Friday afternoon, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its September World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. It increased wheat production estimates for Australia, Canada and the EU, adding 4.5 million tonnes to world output, bringing the total prediction to 770.49 million tonnes and increasing season end stocks to 319.37 million tonnes. This is up almost 20 million tonnes on the year.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner audio blog - press play to hear the latest report. The Frontrunner audio blog is read this week by farm trader, Ollie Wilson.

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Frontrunner - 11th September 2020

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Brexit discussions between the UK government and EU negotiators ran aground this week. The prospects for the UK leaving the EU without a deal became increasingly likely and concerns this will be damaging for the UK economy triggered a sterling sell-off in foreign exchange markets. By close of play on Thursday, sterling had fallen during the week by more than 3% versus the euro to its lowest level since March. London wheat futures rallied £8/t with buyers also concerned that a 'no deal' Brexit could lead to tariffs on EU wheat of up to £78/t. This presents a very challenging prospect for UK millers.

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

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P and K blog series: The important considerations for post-harvest applications

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The stark variation across the country has continued into harvest this year, with some areas completed a couple of weeks ago while others are struggling to make real headway as a result of the wet weather. Where completed, the SOYL applications team has been busy processing fertiliser recommendations ready for post-harvest P and K applications - allowing new season orders to be booked. 

For many growers though, doing this raises the question: What considerations should be made when planning P and K management?

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Frontrunner - 4th September 2020

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US Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures rallied to a five-month high earlier this week. Since early August, CBOT wheat futures have risen in value by an impressive 12%; impressive, because many regard the world wheat market as bearish. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sees world wheat stocks rising by 16mt this season to a record 317mt. This prediction follows significant production increases for Russia and Canada and predicted increases for Australia.

In contrast, recent Chinese buying of US wheat, corn and soybeans has lead to a wave of fund short covering, pushing US wheat futures higher. US wheat and corn sales this week were at the top end of traders' expectations, with approximately 600,000t and 2.6mt sold respectively.

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

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Frontrunner - 28th August 2020

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London and Paris wheat futures rallied this week, reaching five-week highs and following US wheat futures from the Chicago Board of Trade which gained 10% in value during August. The US market gains are due to increasing demand for both wheat and corn. US wheat export sales announced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Thursday were at 740,000 tonnes – this is up on trader estimates which ranged between 400,000 and 700,000 tonnes.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. This week, the report is read by national grain origination manager, Andrew Hill. 

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Frontrunner - 21st August 2020

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One of the major bearish influences for the world wheat market is the increasing production prospects for the Russian wheat harvest. In any normal season, the best yields are seen in the south where harvest begins, and the yields fall as the harvest progresses northwards through the country. This year, however, southern Russia endured prolonged drought and heat, leaving early yields 27% down on the year and raising concerns for overall production. However, in contrast to other seasons, yields continued to improve throughout the harvest.

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

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Frontrunner - 14th August 2020

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Speculative selling on wheat futures markets continued this week and saw values from the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) drop to a six-week low. The increasing size of the Russian wheat crop seemed sufficient to encourage sellers, as analysts published new estimates surpassing 80 million tonnes. Average yields are running above last year and, with a larger wheat area drilled, it seems likely that Russia will produce its second largest wheat crop on record. However, there is still time for the average yield to fall as some of the worst drought-affected spring wheat areas are yet to be combined.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by barley trader, Westly Garner.

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Understand your farm's profitability with margin maps

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With an increased focus on farm finances, I am finding that there is a greater drive from our customers to combine some of the data routinely collected through precision farming to get a better insight into farm profitability.

Our margin map tool uses yield data and simple costs to produce financial performance maps that not only provide a field average, but also show the spatial variation in profitability. By including yield data and costs for multiple years, you can easily analyse financial performance across your whole rotation instead of just year by year.

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Getting the best from your summer-sown cover crops

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As a result of the dreadful winter weather, many headlands, fields and even blocks of land were unfortunately not fit enough for spring combinable crop planting. Growers were therefore faced with two options: leave the area bare and unplanted, or plant an economical green cover crop to harvest sunlight and convert that energy into valuable biomass for the soil.

Many growers opted for the latter and, as you look around the countryside there is now a wealth of summer fallow crops on display, with the likes of sunflowers and oil radish putting on quite the show.

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Frontrunner - 7th August 2020

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US Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures lost 5% of their value this week as traders reacted to increases in crop estimates for some of the world's major wheat producers. Improving Russian prospects were highlighted as a primary driver for the move. The Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR) raised its estimate to 79.5 million tonnes from 78 million tonnes as the Russian wheat harvest reached 46% completion and average yields surpassed last year, up to 3.66t/ha from 3.62t/ha.

49.7 million tonnes have been combined compared to 46.7 million tonnes at the same time last year. Additional selling pressure came from news that Canadian farmers could harvest a record wheat crop this season.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. This week the report is read by farm trader, Luke Cox.

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Companion crops: supporting OSR establishment

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While the place of oilseed rape as a commercial break crop has been unchallenged for many years, increased pressure from cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB) in many regions – coupled with other variables such as soil type, previous cropping considerations, moisture availability and variety choice – has meant that the successful establishment of the crop requires some important planning.

Fortunately though, for those considering oilseed rape in next year's rotation, there could be quite an innovative 'tool' available within the establishment 'workshop'.

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Frontrunner - 31st July 2020

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Last Friday, global markets saw a considerable lift following reports of significant export sales to China from the US for corn and soybeans. On Monday, however, this lift was wiped out on the back of increased Russian wheat crop estimates and less than expected US wheat shipments. The Institute of Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR) increased its Russian wheat production estimate to 78 million tonnes. This is up from 76.5 million tonnes previously and comes as a result of the higher yields being seen in the Black Earth region, which are moving the average closer to that of last year due to the increased area drilled.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report.

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Frontrunner - 24th July 2020

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Early UK wheat harvest results suggest huge variability in terms of yield and quality, with wide-ranging proteins grabbing the headlines thus far and testing generally lower than at this stage last year. The Hagberg falling numbers and specific weights reported also reflect a less-than-ideal growing season and, with a mixed short-term weather forecast, this may continue to be the case. Elsewhere, FranceAgriMer estimates 57% of soft wheat to be in 'good' to 'excellent' condition. This is a 2% improvement on last week, bringing the harvest to 71% completion.

You can also listen to Frontrunner - press play to hear the latest report on Acast. This week's report is read by farm trader, Ollie Wilson.

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Grassweed series: Stubble management for grassweed control

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Last month we published the first in our series of blogs on grassweed management, looking specifically at black-grass, its characteristics and the strategies to take pre-harvest. You can read the blog here.

As with management before harvest, efforts to control grassweeds are crucial post-harvest too. Cultivation strategies during this time can have a significant impact on the overall grassweed burden for the following crop, but it is important to understand the biology of the individual species in order to use cultural options to the best effect. 

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Frontrunner - 17th July 2020

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This week has seen volatile trading on US Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures caused by rumours of US wheat sales to China along with further cuts to wheat crop estimates for some of the major producers.

CBOT wheat futures hit contract lows ahead of the Stocks and Acreage Report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which was published on the 30th June. However, an unexpected cut of 600,000 acres in the planted wheat area, and therefore the lowest US wheat area since records began, triggered a positive turn for the market.

You can also listen to Frontrunner - press play to hear the latest report on SoundCloud.

This week's report is read by farm trader, Lottie Bauer.

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