Dynamics For Disaster In Agricultural Markets

Below is a batch of entries from Nogger's Blog.

(emphasis mine) [my comment]

Friday, 6 November 2009
Romanian Winter Plantings Seen Down 30 Pct

Romanian farmers are expected to plant 30% less winter grains this year, according to UkrAgroConsult.

Drought in 2009, delayed receipt of farm subsidy payments, an antiquated infrastructure and low grain prices are all partly to blame.

Agrimoney.com report that since
the collapse of Communism, the amount of irrigated land has slumped by more than 90% to well below 300,000 hectares.

A recent USDA tour of the country reported
a "large amount" of deserted farms - "not land just lying fallow or waiting for next season's crop but vacant land" they add. [example of low prices leading to lower production]

Lack of on-farm storage, in a country where half of the tillable area is still ploughed by horse-drawn equipment, means that many farmers are forced to take whatever price is on offer for their crops at harvest time.

Many have clearly had enough, at least for now.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Brazil To Put Wheat Import Tariff On The Chopping Bloc

Nogger's favourite grains website Agrimoney.com is reporting that
Brazil might be about to scrap it's duty on wheat imported from outside the Mercosul trade bloc. [leading to increased demand for wheat imports in 2009/10]

Brazil's regular No 1 wheat supplier is Argentina, who in previous years have normally had enough to meet almost all of Brazil's import needs. Of course things haven't gone according to plan for the Argies in the last two years, with the 2008/09 crop wrecked by drought and this year's plantings the smallest on record in a two fingered salute to the government.

So with a wheat crop of only around 7.5 MMT potentially coming out of Argentina this year, and them consuming around 6.5-7.0 MMT themselves, there isn't going to be much left for Brazil's best mates to export this year.

Hungry Brazil are set to consume 11.4 MMT of wheat in 2009/10 according to yesterday's USDA figures, but with their own production badly affected by heavy rains they are likely to deficient to the tune of around 7 MMT this year, say Agrimoney.

Clearly the vast majority of that is now going to have to come from outside the bloc.

Well it's a good job that the shops are still open isn't it? Certainly the US will be fancying their chances of a slice of that action, as Brazilian millers are famously anti-Russian wheat.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Wheat Continues To Pour Out Of Ukraine

Grain continues to pour out of cash-strapped Ukraine with Nov 1st wheat reserves standing at a fraction over 11 MMT, over 20% down on year ago levels, and 4.75 MMT less than two months previously.

You don't have to be Pythagoras to figure out that at this rate they will run out long before next season's harvest begins. [evidence suggesting decreased capacity for wheat exports in 2010]

Against a backdrop of political uncertainty, farmers and trading houses alike are keen to export anything that isn't nailed to the floor. Quickly.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009
First Imported Wheat Shipments Clear Indian Customs

Fed up waiting for the government to release state-owned wheat stocks onto the market at realistic prices, flour millers in southern India have taken matters into their own hands and begun importing wheat in containers from Australia.

Media reports from India confirm that "a few containers have arrived and they have been cleared by the phyto-sanitary and plant quarantine authorities". ]

Suppliers in Australia literally have to clean the wheat before it leaves to meet stringent Indian quarantine restrictions, but with prices fetching USD300-315/tonne (Rs 13,900-14,575/100kg) CIF the southern Indian port of Tuticorin there are plenty prepared to take the risk.

From the flour millers point of view it's a win-win deal, local wheat is costing Rs 15,400-15,800/100kg,
availability is tight and what is available has high levels of infestation (typically 5-6%).

When the first few deals were done a risk premium of USD25/tonne was being added by the sellers, pessimistic that the wheat would get customs clearance. Now that the first consignments have got through OK, this has dropped to USD7-8/tonne, wit h more sellers now coming forward, say millers.

[evidence suggesting strong demand for soybean imports in 2010]

The Roller Flour Mills' Federation of India is urging the government to relax the strict quarantine regulations until new crop wheat is available in March, to facilitate bulk imports. But for now the government continue to stick their heads in the sand. Their mysterious 27 MMT or so of strategic stocks remains under lock and key, yet neither do they seem prepared to open the doors to wholesale wheat imports.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Bug Damage A Problem In Black Sea Wheat

An interesting report on Reuters suggests that
damage by bugs is a serious problem in this season's Black Sea region wheat crops.

Quoting the Vice President of Global Technical Governance at SGS Agricultural Services, they say that
Russian wheat this season typically has an average of 2.6% bug damage, with Ukraine wheat damage estimated at an average 4.6%. In some parts of the Ukraine bug damage has been as high as 80% he says. No wonder they're so keen to get rid of it, still it saves a few bob on loading charges when the wheat can walk onto the boat by itself.

As well as climatic conditions,
much of this season's wheat problems can probably be attributed to economising on pesticides in these cash-strapped times, he says. [example of low prices leading to lower production]

With Egypt having recently lowered it's maximum tolerance to bug damage to just 1%, in theory that leaves the door open for better quality European or US wheat to make inroads into 'difficult' homes like Egypt and perhaps even India.

Not that you'd know it the way recent tenders have been going, with
Russia picking up the lion's share once again of late.

Thursday, 19 November 2009
Heavy Snows Might Hit Chinese Wheat Production

The Chinese government may have shot themselves in the foot with their cloud seeding efforts in northern China's wheat growing areas.

Warm and dry October weather hampered wheat planting and development on the North China Plain.
Rainfall had been practically non-existent in October in leading wheat provinces Henan and Shandong and adjacent Anhui and Jiangsu, say Gail Martell of Martell Crop Projections.

So the military were duly dispatched into the countryside armed with the usual array of silver iodide and heavy artillery.

The seeding, plus temperatures falling as low 29 F, brought an early covering of 'fake' snow to Beijing on November 1st. The snow was the earliest to hit the capital in 10 years, according to the Beijing Evening News.

Perhaps what the authorities hadn't reckoned with was that
Mother Nature has seen fit for it to continue to snow more or less ever since. [There has been a lot of terrible weather for farming this year, hasn't there?]

The heaviest snow in 22 years hit Hebei last week, with falls as deep as 37 cm in some parts of the province. The snow has been accompanied by bitterly cold weather with temperatures of minus 15 to minus 17 degrees Celsius, according to the Xinhua News Agency. [more abnormal weather destroying production]

The drastic temperature drop will harm the province's 2.4 million hectares of wheat, said Zhang Wenzong, director of Hebei Agri-Meteorological Center.

The sudden switch from almost summer-like conditions to winter seems to have by-passed autumn completely. Whilst the snow will certainly ease the drought, it's early arrival along with sub-zero temperatures will badly affect further planting and potentially send newly planted wheat into premature winter dormancy.

They might be able to make it rain, but can they stop it snowing and freezing in the world's largest producer and consumer of wheat?

Thursday, 19 November 2009
USDA Weekly Export Sales

For the period November 6-12, 2009 the USD today reported the following weekly export sales:
Net sales of 1,349,700 MT were up 6 percent from the previous week and 58 percent from the prior 4-week average. Once again the primary destination was China (724,700 MT). Trade estimates for weekly sales had ranged from 750,000 and 950,000 MT. Exports of 1,724,200 MT were a marketing-year high, the primary destination (no surprises here) was China (914,500 MT). [evidence suggesting strong demand for soybean imports in 2010]

Thursday, 19 November 2009
Heatwave Might Trim Australian Wheat Yields

Eastern Australian farmers might be thanking their lucky stars that this year's much-touted El Nino event didn't arrive on the scene Down Under earlier than now, or wheat production this season might have been severely curtailed.

Much of western New South Wales sweltered in near-record heat today as temperatures soared to the high 30s and low 40s. In some parts of the far west of the state highs of 46 degrees were hit, and tomorrow is forecast to be even hotter.

The current record heat wave, which has caused kernel-shriveling that will reduce wheat yields, became established in a very dry October where conditions damaged wheat in the top 2 producing states of Western Australia and New South Wales, say Martell Crop Projections.

Victoria also report crop damage and reduced yield expectations.

Friday, 20 November 2009
Analysts Cut Australian Wheat Crop Estimates As Temperatures Hit 46 Degrees

November temperature records are being broken all over eastern Australia, with much of New South Wales seeing the mercury hit 10 to 20 degrees above their November average today. [more abnormal weather destroying production]

The hottest today was felt through the Upper Western where Wanaaring and Brewarrina reached 14 degrees above average at 46 degrees, making it their hottest November day on record.
Other November records broken through the state were at Cobar, Condobolin, Forbes and Trangie all reaching a toasty 45 degrees, according to Elders Weather.

With the wheat harvest well underway lower yields than expected are being reported, not just in NSW but also Victoria and Western Australia. Current sweltering temperatures may knock a bit more off yields yet in late maturing crops, analysts say.

Profarmer Australia yesterday cut their Australian wheat production estimate by 1 MMT to 20.9 MMT, whilst Commonwealth Bank of Australia lopped 700,000 MT off their output ideas to 21.6 MMT.

Both estimates are considerably lower than the hapless USDA's current stab in the dark of 23.5 MMT. [Agreed]

Friday, 20 November 2009
Things Could Be Worse, You Could Be Indian

Food inflation running at 14.55%, prevented from importing foreign wheat in bulk by the strictest quarantine regulations in the world. Whilst the government sits on it's supposed stocks of 27 MMT of wheat, which it will only sell if you want to pay well over the market price for it.

this is a government who got elected on their promises of cheap food for all. Is it just me, or is there something innately immoral about buying USD6.7 billion worth of gold from the IMF whilst the people are starving?

Subsequently smarting at allegations that they are a load of profiteers who are so bent that they can't lie straight in bed at night, the government are now said to be 'considering' lowering their minimum tender price for wheat from a laughable USD292-USD365/tonne to the equivalent of USD240-290/tonne.

Well whoopee do.
Considering that they've been 'considering' whether to release any wheat or not for months now, I wouldn't go holding my breath for a snappy decision on that one.

They should try 'considering' that the average Indian on the street can't afford to be paying almost 15% more than last year for his food, and get their fingers out.

Sell their domestic stocks off cheap, what are they there for food security or profit? Failing that, waive the strict import regulations as they did back in 2006. Nobody can seriously tell me that the wheat in the state granaries is better quality than the French or German material that Egypt just bought at below USD200/tonne yesterday.

Meanwhile, the opening day of parliament was adjourned yesterday after
angry farmers marched through the streets of Dehli, protesting against low state-set sugarcane prices. The dispute may delay cane crushing in Uttar Pradesh, pushing domestic sugar prices even higher, and could also affect early sowing of wheat, farm leaders said.

Friday, 20 November 2009
Breaking News

Just popped up on the screen that China's CNGOIC website says that
the regular weekly government soybean and corn auctions that have been in operation since September are to cease from Dec 1st. No explanation offered. [evidence suggesting strong demand for soybean imports in 2010]

That might get the market going this afternoon, particularly after yesterday's strong sales and exports news.

The thoroughly excellent Agrimoney.com say that
"this left US soybean sales for the 2009-10 marketing year, which only started in September, at more than 70% of Washington's full-year forecast already" which is a pretty startling statistic, I'm sure you'll agree.

US sales to China, which have been running at almost a million tonnes a week recently, look like continuing unabated.

Chinese soybean imports are expected to be around 3.5 MMT in November, rising to 4 MMT each in Dec and Jan, with the vast majority of that set to come from the US, before the Brazilian harvest gets into full swing.

Friday, 20 November 2009
Rice Marke t Simmering Nicely

Whist the poor monsoon season slashed Indian summer rice production, flooding in the south of the country is seen doing likewise with winter rice output,
analysts say.

That could leave
India needing to import 3-5 MMT of rice next year, which considering that they are normally an exporter of around 4.5 MMT, is a pretty significant turnaround.

This would be the first time India has needed to import rice in more than twenty years, and also coincides with a pick up in demand from the Philippines, who have had their own production slashed by a series of typhoons.

India lost 18% of it's summer rice crop and could lose a similar proportion of it's winter production, analysts say.

That would slash stocks perilously low to under 1 MMT, without imports, and that is only enough to keep hungry India going for just four days.

Government mandates insist that state food agencies hold minimum stocks of 5.2 MMT of rice, pushing import requirements up above 4 MMT in 2010.

Strangely, the Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters today that the government "have adequate stocks" after refusing to offer a subsidy to state-run companies looking to import rice.

Friday, 20 November 2009
Ukraine: The Golden Goose Is Dead (Maybe)

Rumours are sweeping the market that Ukraine Rail has failed to restructure its debt on a bond owed to Barclays Bank.

This rumour is compounded by speculation that a second bond is near default - one that is underwritten by Ukraine's government and owed to Deutsche Bank.

That's got the currency markets spooked and we are back to a flight to safety, which sees the unpopular pound taking a spanking in the corner down to USD1.6475.

On a separate issue, to highlight just how badly the bottom has fallen out of the agricultural market in Ukraine, the production of tractors for agriculture and forestry purposes fell by 85.1% in January-October 2009 year-on-year, according to the State Statistics Committee.

The production of seeders shrank by 81.5% and the production of disk harrows fell by 85.7% during the same period, they add. [another example of low prices = lower production]

Friday, 20 November 2009
Here's An Interesting Thing

Figures out today from the Russian customs department show that they exported just over 2 MMT of wheat in October, bringing exports for the current marketing year so far (July/Oct) to just under 7 MMT.

What's so interesting about that, you rightly ask?

One of the takers in October was ultra-fussy we don't need to import anything India with 24,600 MT, apparently. [evidence suggesting strong demand for soybean imports in 2010]

The Wallaces Farmer reports that it was a phenomenal year for U.S. soybean exports.

It Was a Phenomenal Year for U.S. Soybean Exports
Record soybean exports from the United States were reported for the recently ended 2008-2009 soybean marketing year.
Compiled by staff
Published: Oct 28, 2009

The U.S. Soybean Export Council has released key export data for U.S. soy export marketing year 2008-2009, which ended September 30, 2009.
It was a phenomenal year for exports with the third record year of soybean exports in a row and over 55% of the U.S. 2008 soybean crop exported. Soybean exports were up 11% from the previous marketing year.

Iowa Soybean Association director of market development Grant Kimberley expects strong demand to continue for soybeans and soy products.

"As people continue to improve their diets by consuming more meat protein,
world demand is projected to remain strong for soybeans and soybean meal," says Kimberley. "International marketing is one of ISA's top priorities, and we will continue our work to build demand and create customer preference for Iowa and U.S. soybeans."

China was by far the top soybean export market with over 686 million bushels, followed by Mexico with 113 million bushels. Mexico was the top soybean meal export market and India was the top soybean oil export market. [evidence suggesting strong demand for soybean imports in 2010]

Dewitt-ee.com reports about farming in 2009 in Arkansas County.

Farming '09
By Christina Verderosa
November 18, 2009


Jared Holzhauer, who farms along with his father in Gillett, had
no doubt the weather affected his operations, "negatively."

His rice crop turned out well, but
"We had beans that drowned," Holzhauer said. "The later rains effected the seed quality," resulting in problems with mold and seed stain.

The biggest long-term impact of the record rains looks like it will be on the 2009-10 wheat crop. Between low prices and the delays from the weather and late soybean harvest,
Bell is estimating the wheat crop for Arkansas County will be down 90 to 95 percent. Mike Merritt of Farm Inc. gave some more specifics.

On Monday, Merritt said the price of wheat has rallied a bit to $5.40 a bushel, but that's still a far cry from what it was just a few years ago.
A number of farmers had already decided against planting wheat and the weather delays "sealed the deal." Merritt said. "Yields start hurting after Thanksgiving." Adams estimated that wheat acres, which dropped to 25,000 last year from a peak of 100,000 about five years ago, will drop even further.

Some local farmers had decided to drop wheat even before the rains came. Holzhauer said the price was the main reason he decided to forgo wheat. Weather is also still a concern. "We've had too many close calls on frosts [in the past few years]," Holzhauer said. [another example of low prices = lower production]

Graves normally plans to grow wheat but won't this time.

"If I don't have wheat to mess around with, I could have a pretty good bean crop next year," Graves said. "And I won't have to worry about geese in the wheat."

"Usually I try to plant wheat every year," Graves said. The trend is not just in the county, but also statewide. He said a USDA representative had said that the Arkansas wheat crop is 26 percent planted. "I'd like to know where that is," he said.

Pjstar reports that Illinois harvest still slow.

Illinois harvest still slow
Most soybeans are in, but yields are disappointing
By STEVE TARTER (starter@pjstar.com)
of the Journal Star
Posted Nov 16, 2009 @ 08:42 PM


EDWARDS — The wet weather kept Ross Pauli from getting into his field near Edwards on Monday but he figures he's still ahead of a lot of other area farmers.

"We're done with the soybeans and we've harvested about 70 percent of the corn," said Pauli.
Pauli called
his bean crop "very disappointing" this year. "Yields are off considerably from last year," he said.

While he averaged 50 bushels of soybeans an acre last year, this year's bushel counts were in "the low 40s and some even in the 30s" per acre, said Pauli, citing the area's unusually cool, wet weather as one of "the factors that were against soybeans this year."

Those cool, wet conditions made white mold more of a problem for beans than usual in this area, he said.
"That mold often hits soybeans grown in Wisconsin and Minnesota because of the cooler weather up there. This year, we had that kind of weather," said Pauli.

A shortage of good growing days was also cited.
"A lot of soybeans didn't get in until June because it took farmers so long to get the corn in this year. Beans like a lot of sunlight and we had a lot of cloudy days this year," he said.

Delmarvanow.com reports that storm floods roads and fields.

November 18, 2009
Storm floods roads, fields
Nor'easter closes schools, roads in five-day rain event
By Ceri Larson Danes and Ted Shockley
Staff writer


GROTON TOWN --Real-estate agent Toni Trepanier heard the noise around 1:30 a.m. Friday -- "this metal noise," she said -- and she heard her dogs begin to bark anxiously.

"I said, 'Oh my God, what's that?'" said Trepanier, who lives in a large home in this small settlement near Mappsville, Accomack County.

It was the roof of her barn, which was ripped off and flung into her yard during the teeth of last week's nor'easter, which dumped more than 7 inches of rain in Painter -- more in other areas -- and produced wind gusts up to 60 mph.

The nor'easter combined with the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida to produce rain over parts of five days and wind that soaked roads, canceled schools and damaged buildings.

Bobby Isdell, acting administrator of Virginia's Department of Transportation in Accomac, said the department would begin cleaning debris and noting drainage problems when the storm ends.

Oyster flooding

Low-lying Oyster experienced flooding Thursday that rivaled Hurricane Isabel, the 2003 storm that caused damage in the area.

"It wasn't Isabel, but it was pretty close to it," said Dave Fauber, an Oyster resident. "It was pretty bad."

Farm report

With farmers busy harvesting soybeans and planting cover crops like barley and wheat, rain from this week's nor'easter will likely provide a significant delay.

"It's going to set us back two weeks," said Bill Shockley, agricultural extension agent for Northampton County on Friday morning as he conducted a damage assessment throughout the county.

"The next few days are going to tell us a whole lot."

He estimated 50-60 percent of the soybeans in the county had been harvested.

The Times Dispatch reports that Virginia crop outlook muddied by deluge.

Va. crop outlook muddied by deluge
Published: November 17, 2009


Last week's torrential rainfalls have caused damage and delays to some Virginia farm crops, but the extent of losses is unknown, some agriculture experts said yesterday.

Several crops that were recently planted or still in the fields were hurt by the widespread, three-day deluge, including winter wheat, barley and soybeans, said Molly Payne Pugh, executive director of the Virginia Grain Producers Association.

"There is definitely going to be damage," Pugh said. "I don't have a good feel for how much yet. Right now, we are assessing."

Pugh said she and her husband planted about 400 acres of red winter wheat on their farm in Tidewater.

After last week's storm, "we know for sure that we won't see at least 100 acres of that," she said.

Soggy ground conditions could prevent farmers from replanting any lost winter wheat in time to make a good crop. Winter wheat produced about $135 million in cash receipts for Virginia farmers in 2008.

The state's soybean and cotton crops also are a concern now because the rain further delayed an already late harvest.

The Michigan Farmer reports about Snow, Slush and Discouragement.

Snow, Slush and Discouragement Give Way to Blue Skies
Posted on November 17, 2009 at 8:50 PMhttp://michiganfarmer.com/images/clear.gif


Well, the reprieve for getting crops harvested proved to be short-lived. We had a few days of nice weather,
then a whale of a whammy this week.

The weird thing for south-central Kansas is that
three days of rain, cloudy weather and downright dreary conditions STILL did not produce a freeze OR a killing frost. So those folks hoping for frozen ground to get into corn and milo fields are out of luck. And the green crops are still green, which just might be a blessing.

Producers fighting soybean shatter are in a world of hurt because this weather just makes their challenge even worse.

Now, the good news. Blue skies were visible to the west from my vantage point in Wichita tonight, and the forecast is for warmer weather with breezy conditions for several days. Maybe, just maybe that means harvest for at least some folks.

My reaction: Dynamics for disaster are playing out in agricultural markets. Demand for imports increases while production falls. Once distressed sellers like Ukraine are done selling, prices will begin to move higher.

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