Frontrunner - 29th October 2021

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Wheat futures prices soared again this week, striking new contract highs. This is another record on the back of multi-year highs, driven currently by strong export demand and concerns for tightening world supplies. The Paris wheat market reached its highest level since March 2008 following the release of the EU weekly export data which shows exports have now reached 8.99 million tonnes. Official data for France dating back to July remains incomplete showing just 753,000 tonnes shipped. However, unofficial vessel counts suggest that almost 2.6 million tonnes have been loaded, which would take the total EU shipments to an unsustainable 11 million tonnes.

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

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Frontrunner - 22nd October 2021

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China is the largest wheat producing country and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates the country's total production this season will reach 136.9 million tonnes. However, Chinese government officials said this week that persistent heavy rain impacting the main wheat producing areas across the country has left planting at only 26% complete so far.

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 - 15th October 2021

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The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated markets with the release of its October World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report this week, presenting bullish data that further underpins the strong prevailing prices. Traders expected to see cuts for Canadian wheat output in line with updates from local analysts. Prolonged spells of heat and dryness have been significantly damaging to the Canadian crop and the USDA now sees the crop total down to 21 million tonnes. This is down two million tonnes on last month and 14 million tonnes down on last year. The US wheat production estimate was lowered by 1.4 million tonnes in line with yield adjustments published on 30th September.

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 - 8th October 2021

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Wheat markets continued to rise this week, supported by strong export trade and uncertainty over Russian wheat export capability. Paris wheat futures have set new contract highs, gaining over 10% in value since the 20th September. So far this season, from 1st July to 4th October, Brussel's trade data showed the EU had shipped just over eight million tonnes of wheat.

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 - 1st October 2021

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Paris and London wheat futures rallied to new contract highs this week, the jump in prices triggered by bullish wheat stocks and production data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). US wheat stocks estimates for the 1st September 2021 have been set at 1.78 billion bushels - 70 million bushels below average trade estimates and the lowest since 2007. The USDA also cut its 2021 US wheat production estimate by 50 million bushels from its previous estimate, down to a new total of 1.646 billion bushels. This is the equivalent of 44.79 million tonnes and, if realised, will be the smallest US wheat crop for 19 years.

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

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Frontrunner - 24th September 2021

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London wheat futures prices gained 3.5% from their low on Monday and came within £4/t of the contract high which was achieved in the middle of August. Following higher world market prices, there seemed no clear catalyst for the sharp price rise, but the latest export data from the EU and US was supportive.

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 Powell.

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Frontrunner - 17th September 2021

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Late last Friday the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its September World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report; much in line with traders' expectations it produced neutral to bearish data. World wheat production is seen rising 3.7 million tonnes up to 780 million tonnes, with Australia up 1.5 million tonnes to 31.5 million tonnes and India up 1.52 million tonnes to 109.52 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, Becca Russell. 

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Frontrunner - 10th September 2021

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FranceAgriMer updated its French wheat crop data this week with changes that highlighted the poor quality of its crop. Domestic and export milling specifications demand that grain specific weight meets at least 76kgs but only 30% of the crop is estimated to have reached that standard. Such poor French wheat crop quality is unusual; last season over 98% of France's crop met the minimum 76kgs standard. The Hagberg falling number (HFN) is also an issue, with only 67% meeting the minimum 220 specification.

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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Variable rate seed: The ability to adapt

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As I begin to think about variable rate seed, I can't help getting out of my head that for the past year there has been a lot of talk of change and adapting within agriculture. The more I thought about it, I concluded (probably later than many others) that agriculture has always been a case of adapting whether it be to new products, new machinery, new guidance or the ever-changing weather.

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Optimising beet yield if delaying lifting to increase sugars

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Right now, beet crops are looking good. We're seeing high plant stand and root weight and, on the whole, virus yellows appear to be even lower than predicted after the cold spring.

However, while a reduction in the number of usual sunshine hours didn't impact oilseed rape yields this season - possibly because the frosts helped with canopy management – it's reported that the sugar percentage in beet needs time to increase to ensure haulage of good, adjusted tonnage. 

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Frontrunner - 3rd September 2021

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Earlier this week Statistics Canada (StatsCan) updated its country's wheat crop estimate, now seeing the crop falling to 22.95 million tonnes. This compares to 35.18 million tonnes last year and, if realised, will be Canada's smallest crop for 14 years. Persistent excessive heat and dryness for much of the growing season has slashed yield potential for Canada; one of the world's major wheat exporters.

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 - 27th August 2021

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In contrast to UK feed wheat futures, the Paris futures market has a milling standard specification. Under normal circumstances traders may elect to deliver physical wheat against their futures sales at harvest or buy futures as a hedge against milling wheat export sales they make.

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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Opportunities to make soil sampling pay

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With a bullish global fertiliser market pushing prices up as we approach the new season, the importance of soil sampling to help optimise inputs is arguably greater than ever before. When you combine this with the recent Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) release stating growers can be financially rewarded for monitoring and improving soil health, it's not surprising to learn that sampling is becoming a greater priority.

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Frontrunner - 20th August 2021

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In its August World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, the United States Department of Agriculture surprised markets last week with larger-than-expected production cuts for some of the world's major wheat and corn producers. After the report was released, strong wheat futures surged a further 5% to multi-year highs. However, fresh selling and speculators banking profits gathered pace throughout this week and wiped out the short-lived spike in 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, Sophie Powell. 

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Getting the best from your fallow

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​With more growers now getting involved with Countryside Stewardship, a key option that many are selecting is the AB15 two-year legume fallow. This option is proving to be particularly popular as growers weigh up the pros and cons of various break crops, including oilseed rape.

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Frontrunner - 13th August 2021

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The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its August World Agricultural Supply and Demands Estimates (WASDE) report on Thursday and presented some bullish surprises. Futures markets reacted with notable gains and US, Paris and London wheat futures all rallied to set new contract highs.

Having taken an overly conservative view of potential crop losses in its July estimates, this time the USDA made some aggressive production cuts. This was particularly the case for Russia where the USDA estimates the wheat crop will be as low as 72.5 million tonnes. This compares with its July estimate of 85 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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Frontrunner - 6th August 2021

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This week, the UK's oilseed rape harvest has continued making progress further up the country where weather has allowed. As mentioned last week, yield reports seem to be improving as harvest makes its way north. An increase on the widely estimated 3.3t/ha may well be seen before harvest with numbers as high as 5t/ha being reported in the Lincolnshire area.

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- 30th July 2021

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Wheat long-holders in many areas can still achieve attractive premiums for old crop wheat as the market scrambles to find stocks to service late-season demand. In Scotland and the North of England particularly, wheat prices that are £30-40/t above harvest levels should encourage most sheds to be emptied as the country enters a new crop year with bare boards and minimal carryover. As wheat harvest started in the south this week, most merchants and consumers will breathe a sigh of relief as we come to the end of one of the smallest UK crop years in recent history.

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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Getting direction from your maps

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​As we head into another harvest, it's important to get your bearings and plan your route ahead for the next and following cropping years. The concept of 'mapping your future' isn't new to everyone, but it has grown in significance following recent announcements about the Environment Land Management (ELM) scheme and the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI). In fact, specific 'standards' or 'land management actions' have been highlighted as a key part of the SFI and monitoring activity and results is central to the scheme.

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Basic to broad analysis: Putting everything under the microscope to push for better yield

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"We're on a journey". That's what I say to my crop production customers when they see me take yet another set of tissue samples from the same fields that we started tissue testing over five years ago.

Over the years, I've formed a true partnership approach with my customers when it comes to crop nutrition. In the early days, soil analysis consisted of only measuring the most basic components: pH, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium. In addition, tissue analysis was taken sporadically here and there throughout the season.

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