Global Ag News for Sept 5.23

TOP HEADLINES

Ukraine to Challenge EU Grain Restrictions if Ban Extended

  • Zelenskiy’s top aide Zhovkva singles out Warsaw on ban
  • Kyiv says commission should react if unilateral bans imposed

Ukraine will challenge any extension of a grain-import ban by five European Union nations as it seeks an end to restrictions imposed by some of its closest allies in the bloc, a senior official said.

The import ban introduced by Poland and four other EU member states has emerged as a rare point of friction between Ukraine and some of its strongest backers against Russia’s invasion. Kyiv says the restrictions, introduced in response to protests over plummeting grain prices, jeopardize a crucial lifeline for exports.

Ihor Zhovkva, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s deputy chief of staff focused on foreign affairs, said the government will seek to appeal restrictions with an arbitration panel if the EU extends the measures beyond a Sept. 15 deadline. The rules are connected to a 2014 trade agreement between Ukraine and the 27-member bloc.

“If the European Commission extends its decision on Ukraine’s grain imports, we will complain to the arbitration panel under our agreement,” Zhovkva said in an interview in Kyiv.

The Zelenskiy aide singled out Poland, which along with Hungary has warned it will impose unilateral restrictions if EU measures aren’t extended. A staunch ally of Ukraine, Poland was the first to issue a ban in the face of demonstrations by farmers complaining about a grain glut weighing on prices — a central political issue ahead of an October election.

If Warsaw moves on its own this month, the commission must proceed with legal measures against violations of the EU’s single market, the aide said.

“The commission must react,” Zhovkva said.

Ukraine has come to rely on export channels directly to EU neighbors, especially after President Vladimir Putin pulled out of a grain deal that allowed exports via its Black Sea ports at the onset of harvest season. Poland’s ban in April was followed by measures in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Eastern Europe Is Jeopardizing Ukraine’s Economic Lifeline

The European Commission sought to allay the spat by introducing domestic restrictions on grain to replace the unilateral measures. Zelenskiy and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed in May to set up a platform to coordinate and monitor export disruptions.

The restrictions apply to domestic grain, allowing for transit through the five EU states into the bloc. But concerning Poland, Zhovkva complained that the measures slow down movement.

“Poland doesn’t block the transit de jure, but de facto — there were protests, they increase time of our foodstuffs’ checks on the border,” Zhovkva said. “De facto, it is a blockade.”

FUTURES & WEATHER

Wheat prices overnight are unchanged in SRW, down 4 1/4 in HRW, up 1 in HRS; Corn is down 1/4; Soybeans down 5; Soymeal up $0.40; Soyoil down 0.75.

Markets finished last week with wheat prices down 26 1/4 in SRW, down 42 1/4 in HRW, down 41 3/4 in HRS; Corn is down 6 1/2; Soybeans down 18 1/2; Soymeal down $15.40; Soyoil down 0.07.

For the month to date wheat prices are down 6 1/2 in SRW, down 8 3/4 in HRW, down 6 in HRS; Corn is up 3; Soybeans down 4 1/2; Soymeal down $4.00; Soyoil up 0.03.

Year-To-Date nearby futures are down 28.1% in SRW, down 18.0% in HRW, down 21.8% in HRS; Corn is down 31.2%; Soybeans down 11.1%; Soymeal down 14.3%; Soyoil up 3.4%.

Chinese Ag futures (NOV 23) Soybeans down 49 yuan; Soymeal unchanged; Soyoil down 68; Palm oil down 86; Corn down 2 — Malaysian Palm is down 81.

Malaysian palm oil prices overnight were down 81 ringgit (-2.03%) at 3905.

There were changes in registrations (55 SRW Wheat, 85 Soymeal). Registration total: 2,915 SRW Wheat contracts; 741 Oats; 0 Corn; 0 Soybeans; 67 Soyoil; 85 Soymeal; 312 HRW Wheat.

Preliminary changes in futures Open Interest as of September 1 were: SRW Wheat up 5,908 contracts, HRW Wheat up 3,101, Corn up 12,018, Soybeans up 8,571, Soymeal up 1,351, Soyoil up 436.

Northern Plains: Though it got very hot over the holiday weekend, a system moved in with significant rainfall on Monday, which continues into Tuesday as well. Temperatures behind a front moving through will be much more mild, making the heat wave a short one. Variable temperatures and some sporadic showers will follow through the weekend, which may or may not be helpful for maturing corn and soybeans.

Central/Southern Plains: Heat has been intense over the holiday weekend with widespread triple-digit temperatures. A front will move through with more seasonable temperatures for northern areas Tuesday and Wednesday. Southern areas will continue to be hot. The front will waffle through the region for the following week, offering potential showers, some of which may be significant for filling corn and soybeans that can still take advantage.

 Midwest: Temperatures became significantly hot for the western half of the region over the holiday weekend, and eastern areas saw temperatures rise above normal as well. However, a tropical feature moved north on Monday and brought some heavier rainfall to Missouri and into Illinois. The moisture will feed a system moving through Tuesday and Wednesday, which may end up bringing significant late rainfall to some areas. Temperatures will also moderate to near-normal after the front moves through. Another front will move through this weekend into early next week, bringing another round of mild temperatures and potential for rain. This forecast is far more favorable than last week’s hot and dry outlook.

Delta: Temperatures rose well into the 90s for most of the region over the holiday weekend, but it eventually came with widespread rainfall as well. The rainfall was far more important than the temperatures for immature soybeans and cotton, though conditions for early harvest are not as favorable now. A front will be in the region most of the week and could bring bouts of rain through at times.

 Brazil: A system brought heavy rain to southern and south-central Brazil over the long weekend, which may have caused some flooding damage to filling wheat and mature corn that has been awaiting harvest. The front to the system may bring more showers to central Brazil the next couple of days. Another front will move through later this week and weekend, with potential for more heavy rain for southern areas. Flooding damage may outweigh the benefits of heavy rain at this juncture in the season, especially if the pattern remains active for the rest of September. Improved soil moisture over central areas is favorable once the daily wet season showers develop, however.

 Argentina: Widespread moderate to heavy rain fell across most of the country over the weekend, highly favorable for easing the drought and prepping soils before spring planting. Winter wheat will certainly benefit. Another front and system will move through Wednesday and Thursday, though showers will be better for northeastern areas than elsewhere. The pattern remains active through at least mid-September with multiple systems lining up to move through. Conditions are becoming much more favorable as planting season approaches.

The player sheet for Sep. 1 had funds: net sellers of 2,000 contracts of SRW wheat, buyers of 3,500 corn, sellers of 500 soybeans, sellers of 1,500 soymeal, and  buyers of 2,000 soyoil.

TENDERS

  • CORN SALE: The Korea Feed Association (KFA) has purchased an estimated 55,000 metric tons of animal feed corn in an international tender.
  • WHEAT SALE: Egypt’s state grains buyer GASC is believed to have bought an estimated 60,000 metric tons of wheat in direct negotiations with trading houses on Friday without issuing an international tender, traders said in initial assessments.
  • SOYBEAN SALES: The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed private sales of 198,000 metric tons of U.S. soybeans for shipment to unknown destinations in the 2023/24 marketing year.

PENDING TENDERS

  • CORN TENDER: Iranian state-owned animal feed importer SLAL has issued two international tenders to purchase up to 180,000 metric tons of animal feed corn and 120,000 tons of soymeal
  • RICE TENDER: South Korea’s state-backed Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp issued an international tender to purchase an estimated 130,200 metric tons of rice all to be sourced from China.
  • WHEAT TENDER: A Syrian state grains agency issued an international tender to purchase and import 200,000 metric tons of soft milling wheat.

Shipping containers

TODAY

US Soybean Crushings at 185M Bushels in July: USDA

USDA releases monthly oilseed report on website.

  • Crushing 1.9% higher than same period last year
  • Crude oil production 0.4% higher than same period last year
  • Crude and once-refined oil stocks down 5.2% y/y

Brazil C-S Winter Corn Harvest 88% Complete: AgRural

Winter corn harvest in Brazil‘s Center-South region is 88% complete as of AUg. 31, according to an emailed report from AgRural consulting firm.

  • That compares with 83% a week earlier, and 98% a year earlier
  • Summer corn seeding is 13% complete in the Center-South, compared to 8% a week earlier and 9% last year

Brazil August Agriculture Exports by Volume: MDIC

Following is a summary of key Brazilian agriculture and mining exports by volume, from the Brazilian Trade Ministry.

  • Soybean exports rose 44% in August from a year ago
  • Cotton exports rose 66% y/y

Australia Trims Wheat Crop Estimate, Curbing Global Supplies

  • Country is a major exporter of wheat, barley and canola
  • China is top buyer of Australian wheat in past two years

Australia’s wheat production is likely to be lower than forecast after dry conditions and below-average rainfall in some growing regions.

The government trimmed its estimate by 3% from June to 25.4 million tons, putting the crop on track for a 36% decline from the record harvest a year earlier, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences. Wheat is a major winter crop in Australia with planting from April and the harvest starting in November.

Even less wheat from major exporter Australia may come as a blow to international buyers such as China, which could need more imports after rain hurt its crop. Extreme weather from scorching temperatures to flooding has left crops across the world damaged, exacerbating supply pressures as Russia’s war in Ukraine continues to crimp Black Sea cargoes.

While dry and hot conditions are expected to harm yields in areas with low soil moisture, higher rainfall has boosted the outlook for some growers in southern New South Wales, Victoria and southern cropping regions in Western Australia. Below average rainfall is expected for most of Australia in the coming months, according to a forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology.

The government increased its barley and canola crop estimates from June. Barley output is now forecast at 10.5 million tons, up from 9.9 million tons seen three months ago, but down 26% from a year earlier. The canola crop is estimated at 5.2 million tons, up from 4.9 million tons seen three months ago, but still down 38% from a year earlier.

Ukraine Seeks to Boost Crop Exports Via Danube Despite Attacks

The Ukrainian grain industry is lobbying the governments of Ukraine and Romania to set up anchorage areas in the waters of both countries to help increase outbound grain shipments via the Danube River.

The Danube has become Ukraine’s main crop-export route after the country’s Black Sea ports were closed in the wake of Moscow’s move in July to pull out of a pact that provided a safe corridor for shipments.

Ukraine needs to ship at least 4 million tons of grains and oilseeds a month because of a better-than-expected harvest, said Mykola Gorbachov, president of the Ukrainian Grain Association. Anchor stations that allow ships to be loaded from barges directly at sea may add as much as 1 million tons of grain export capacity to ports on the Danube, he said in an interview this week.

Areas near the Danube ports of Reni and Izmail have suffered repeated Russian attacks since Moscow left the Black Sea agreement, causing damage to storage facilities. Still, shipping operations have not been affected, and August exports were likely to be around the same as July, or 2.1 million tons, Gorbachov said.

A platform allowing ships to be loaded directly at sea may start operating in Ukrainian waters within two weeks, adding about 200,000 tons a month to export capacity, he said. Romania is considering the addition of a platform in Constanta, and the association is asking the government there for more.

The group sees Ukrainian exports of grains and oilseeds, including wheat, corn, barley, soybeans and rapeseed, reaching about 50 million tons this year compared with 58 million tons a year earlier.

Ukraine Grain Group Raises 2023 Grain, Oilseed Crop Forecast

The Ukrainian Grain Association raised its grain and oilseed harvest forecast by 3.7m tons to 80.5m tons on better than expected yields helped by favorable weather, according to an emailed report

  • This compares with 73.8m tons of grains and oilseed harvested in 2022
    • UGA estimates wheat harvest to rise by 9% y/y to 22m tons with potential exports of 16m tons including 4.4m tons of carryover stock;
    • Barley harvest is estimated to rise by 12% to 5.8m tons; barley export may be 3m tons
    • Corn harvest is seen rising by 4% to 28m tons and 22m tons can be exported
    • UGA sees sunflower harvest rising by 25% y/y to 13.9m tons; export is seen at 0.5m tons and 13.2m tons will be processed in Ukraine
    • Rapeseed harvest is estimated at 4.1m tons and export at 4m tons; soybeans harvest estimated at 4.8m tons and export at 3.3m tons export
  • UGA continues talks with the European Commission on compensations for European shippers for transit of Ukrainian grain from its western borders to European ports

Putin, Erdogan Talks End Without Reviving Ukraine Grain Deal

  • Erdogan met Putin to urge revival of Ukraine export corridor
  • End of Black Sea trade has stoked tension, shaken grain market

President Vladimir Putin said he wouldn’t revive a UN-backed deal that had eased global food prices by allowing Ukraine to ship its grain through the Black Sea unless obstacles to Russia’s own agricultural exports are removed.

Putin’s comments came after a three-hour meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Russian resort town of Sochi. Erdogan, who helped broker the original Black Sea Grain Initiative in 2022, had hoped to come away from the talks with a new framework for negotiations to present to global leaders at the Group of 20 Summit in India later in the week.

Instead, the two leaders confirmed plans to send 1 million tons of Russian grain via Turkey to African nations concerned the disruptions would raise food prices.

That volume is a fraction of Russia’s total wheat exports, which are expected to reach some 48 million tons this season. It’s also much smaller than the amount Ukraine was shipping through the Black Sea before Russia abandoned the grain deal and closed the safe corridor in July.

Uncertainty about the future of supplies from one of the world’s largest grain exporters has contributed to weeks of volatility in global wheat prices, as has the surge in hostilities in and around the Black Sea.

Russia launched waves of drone attacks on the southern Odesa region in the leadup to the talks, damaging storage and industrial facilities as well as agricultural equipment. It also targeted two river ports that are the main alternative export routes to the Black Sea, setting the tone for the talks.

Putin complained about a surge in Ukrainian drone strikes on Russian gas pipelines, with his defense minister later citing drone attacks as a reason for exiting the deal, according to the Interfax news service.

A mid-sized power that’s maintained strong ties with both Putin and the West, Turkey’s success in brokering the original deal allowed Ukrainian cargoes to return to global markets upended by Russia’s invasion.

But the arrangement, a rare diplomatic win in an otherwise grinding war, was fragile from the outset and Ukraine’s grain exports were repeatedly disrupted by slow ship inspections and political tensions. Russia complained for months that its own demands for better trade terms had been ignored before finally exiting the deal.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s deputy chief of staff told Bloomberg TV before the talks that his country was depending on Turkey to support the restoration of the grain deal and was also ready to export to poor nations in Africa and Asia.

“The crops in Ukraine this year are quite good. So we are ready,” Ihor Zhovkva said. “The world is suffering when Russia is using aggressive instruments in the food security area.”

Ihor Zhovkva, Chief Diplomatic Adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, praised the work of former Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov after he submitted his resignation in the most significant reshuffle to Zelenskiy’s cabinet since the war started. Zhovkva spoke with Bloomberg’s Maria Tadeo and also discussed the black sea grain deal and Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

Palm oil buying lifts India’s August edible oil imports to record -dealers

India’s edible oil imports in August rose 5% to a record 1.85 million metric tons as refiners purchased more than 1 million tons of palm oil for the second consecutive month to build stocks for upcoming festivals, four dealers told Reuters.

Higher purchases by the world’s biggest importer of vegetable oils could help to lower palm oil stocks in Indonesia and Malaysia and support benchmark futures. The buying has helped strengthen soybean oil futures and could reduce inventories in sunflower oil-producing Black Sea countries.

India’s average monthly edible oil imports in the 2021/22 marketing year were 1.17 million tons, trade body Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) said. In July, India imported 1.76 million tons, which was also a record high.

Palm oil imports increased from 1.09 million tons in July to 1.12 million tons in August, the highest in nine months, according to average estimates from the dealers.

The SEA is likely to publish its August vegetable oil import data by mid-September.

“Refiners were making aggressive buying for the upcoming festival season,” said Rajesh Patel, managing partner at GGN Research, an edible oil trader and broker.

“Retail demand was moderate, but the industry is expecting it would pick up in coming months.”

Sunflower oil imports jumped by 11.5% from a month earlier to 365,000 tons, the highest in seven months, while soyoil imports edged up 3.7% to 355,000 tons, dealers estimated.

As the discount of palm oil relative to soyoil and sunflower oil continues to widen, refiners are increasing their purchases in anticipation of demand during the upcoming festivals, said Sandeep Bajoria, CEO of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage.

India buys palm oil mainly from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, while it imports soyoil and sunflower oil from Argentina, Brazil, Russia and Ukraine.

August imports surged because a few vessels initially intended for unloading in July at Kandla port were eventually offloaded in August due to port congestion, said a New Delhi-based dealer with a global trading house.

Concerns over local soybean and groundnut production due to the dry weather are also prompting refiners to import more edible oils, the dealer added.

India experienced its driest August in more than a century, with the country receiving 36% less rainfall than normal during the month.

Rains relieve Argentina’s drought-hit agricultural heartland, especially wheat

Recent rainfall over Argentina’s agricultural heartland has brought significant relief to the wheat crop in particular, raising hopes for a good season after continued harsh droughts which caused huge losses in the 2022/23 season, the Rosario grains Exchange (BCR) said Monday.

A large part of the region received between 30 mm and 100 millimeters ((1.18 and 3.94 inches) of rain, Cristian Russo, head of the BCR’s Strategic Guide for Agriculture, said in a statement.

Although it did not rain enough in central Santa Fe and northwestern Buenos Aires, the rains still surpassed expectations, he added.

“These rains are especially welcome for wheat, as they set up the possibility of an excellent crop and the opportunity to plant corn early,” said Russo, who said that the drought had generated concern among producers.

Argentina is a major global supplier of wheat and the third largest international exporter of corn.

“Forecasts are encouraging, with more rains expected during the coming week concentrated in the eastern part of the central region. This offers a crucial respite for producers who are looking forward to a successful growing season and a relief in the sector’s financial pressure,” he added.

The rainfall is eagerly anticipated by growers, who are hoping to bounce back after a historic drought that caused dramatic losses during the 2022/23 season.

Palm Oil Reserves in Malaysia Seen Rising to Six-Month High

  • Reserves climbed for fourth month to 1.9 million tons: survey
  • Bigger supplies could weigh on benchmark palm oil prices

Palm oil stockpiles in Malaysia likely ballooned to the highest level in six months at the end of August as production in the second-biggest grower advanced while exports weakened.

Inventories climbed about 10% from a month earlier to 1.90 million tons, according to the median of 12 estimates in a Bloomberg survey of analysts, traders and plantation executives. That would mean stockpiles have jumped about 27% from the low in April, and could signal headwinds for benchmark palm oil prices.

Crude palm oil production rose about 7.5% to 1.73 million tons, the highest since October 2022, the survey showed. Exports, however, are estimated to have dropped 1.5% to 1.33 million tons, after surging 16% a month earlier.

Palm oil futures in Kuala Lumpur have struggled to stay above the 4,000 ringgit psychological mark on concerns that high prices will erode demand. Prices retreated for a second day on Tuesday, dropping 0.6% to 3,961 ringgit a ton by the midday break.

Investors are also keeping watch on the pace of production in Malaysia, which is expected to peak between September and October. While stockpiles could accumulate in coming months, they’re expected to be capped by slower-than-expected output growth and steady consumer demand before key festivals.

Moving forward, exports could see a marginal recovery, driven by seasonal demand from China for the Golden Week festival and India for Diwali that’s celebrated in November, according to Sathia Varqa, senior analyst at Fastmarkets Palm Oil Analytics. India and China are the top palm importers.

September Rains Will Limit Risks to Food Supplies, India Says

  • No further export restrictions planned, food secretary says
  • New Delhi monitoring trader stockpiles of wheat and pulses

Rains forecast for swathes of India this month should limit the damage to crops after a delayed monsoon and parched August, leaving the world’s most populous nation with sufficient supplies, the food ministry’s top bureaucrat said.

Rising food prices have been a major headache for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, prompting aggressive moves over the past few weeks to protect the domestic market, including a series of curbs on rice shipments that have pushed the region’s benchmark price to its highest in almost 15 years.

India, the world’s top rice shipper, has now restricted exports of every variety of the staple. It is also selling tomatoes, onions and grains from state reserves to improve local supplies.

But Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra said in an interview on Friday that thanks to ample grain reserves, plus an imminent new rice crop, the country’s situation was not worrisome. Normal to above-normal rains are also forecast in many areas this month, offsetting the impact of disruptions including the driest August in more than a century.

“The government has taken many steps to ensure the food security of the country,” Chopra said. “As of now, there are no proposals for any further export curbs,” he said, adding restrictions had already served their purpose.

Government stockpiles of rice and wheat are sufficient to run food and other welfare programs, while procurement of rice from the 2023-24 harvest will begin in October, boosting state reserves further. The government will, though, monitor stockpiles of pulses and other foods held by traders to stop hoarding.

 SOYBEAN/CEPEA: Monthly averages are the highest since March

Soybean prices increased in the Brazilian market in August, influenced by uncertainties about the output in the United States, the US dollar appreciation against the Real and the absence of part of the farmers from the national market. This week, values have been boosted by higher demand, mainly from abroad. Agents from Brazilian processors have also been more interested in closing deals, however, with only slight valuations for soybean by-products, the profit margins of these companies have decreased, limiting purchases.

Thus, the ESALQ/BM&FBovespa Paranaguá (PR) Index increased 1.6% between August 24-31, to BRL 151.51/bag (USD 30.61) per 60-kg bag on Thursday, 31. Between July and August, this Index rose 1.2%, averaging BRL 148.55/bag last month, the highest since March, in real terms (the averages were deflated by the IGP-DI from July/23). On the other hand, in the annual comparison, the current monthly average is 14.7% below that from Aug/22, in real terms.

It is important to highlight that soybean sales at the ports in southern Brazil are on the rise. The lack of room in Santos (SP) – the number one port for soybean exports in Brazil – drove these trades to the remaining ports. The agents consulted by Cepea have also reported difficulties in closing deals for prompt delivery from the port of Paranaguá (PR).

Thus, at the port of São Francisco do Sul (SC), soybean prices increased 3% over the past seven days, to BRL 154.03/bag on August 31st. In Rio Grande (RS), values were even higher, at BRL 159.97/bag, also 3% up from that on the previous Thursday. In the monthly comparison, the averages are the highest since March.

The CEPEA/ESALQ Index Paraná rose 1.7% between August 24-31, to BRL 141.90 (USD 28.67) per 60-kg bag on August 31st. The monthly average in August, which closed at BRL 139.84/bag, is also the highest since March, in real terms, 1.8% above that from July, but 17.4% below that from Aug/22.

On the average of the regions surveyed by Cepea, soybean prices rose 1.7% in the over-the-counter market (paid to farmers) and 1.2% in the wholesale market (deals between processors). Between July and August, values increased 1.7% and 2.5%, respectively. However, over the past 12 months, quotations dropped 23.4% in the over-the-counter market and 23.2% in the wholesale market, both in nominal terms.

The US dollar rose 1.6% over the past seven days, to BRL 4.95 on August 31st. On the average of August, the American currency increased 2.1% compared to that in July but decreased 4.7% from that in August/22.

2023/24 SEASON – Agents are beginning to monitor th eweather in Brazil, due to the nearness of the sowing the 2023/24 crop. Accordint to Cptec (weather forecast agency), there is a 90% chance that El Niño will continue to hit the country at least until the end of 2023. This phenomenon tends to raise the volume of rainfall in southern and southeastern Brazil, which would favor crop activities. However, El Niño is expected to reduce moisture in northern and northeastern Brazil.

CORN/CEPEA: Harvest nears the end in BR; area with corn in the 23/24 season may shrink

Brazilian corn farmers have been focused on crop activities. While the harvest – of a record second crop – is near the end in many regions, in others, such as Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná, farmers are beginning to sow the summer crop (23/24), whose area may shrink compared to that in the previous season.

Thus, among the sellers currently in the market, some agree to lower asks, aiming to make room in warehouses, while others are not closing deals, expecting the recent valuations at ports are passed on to prices in the interior of Brazil. As for demand, consumers seem to have corn stocked and/or are receiving the product previously purchased.

Thus, liquidity has been low, and prices, stable – the ESALQ/BM&FBovespa Index for corn (Campinas, SP) has been at around BRL 53.00 per 60-kg bag since the beginning of the second fortnight of august. Not even the recent valuations at ports were enough to raise prices this week.

Between August 24-31, the ESALQ/BM&FBovespa Index for corn (Campinas, SP) dropped a slight 0.04%, closing at BRL 53.54 (USD 10.82)/bag on Thursday, 31. On the other hand, on the average of the regions surveyed by Cepea, corn prices dropped 0.4% in the over-the-counter market (paid to farmers), but rose 1.1% in the wholesale market (deals between processors).

CROPS – According to a report released by Conab on August 28th, 84% of the national second crop of corn has been harvested. Activities are over in Tocantins, Mato Grosso and Piauí.

As for the summer crop, sowing has begun in Rio Grande do Sul and in Paraná States, however, the area may shrink in these regions because of the low prices in the domestic market and risks of bad weather. Thus, some farmers are expected to grow other products instead, such as soybean.

WHEAT/CEPEA: Harvest puts even more pressure on wheat prices in BR

Wheat prices have been fading in the Brazilian market since the beginning of 2023. Between late August and early September, values began to fade more steeply, mainly the prices paid to wheat farmers. Pressure came from the higher supply of the new crop in the market, due to the progress of the harvest in Paraná – where the output is expected to be high – and stable demand from national mills. Besides, international devaluations are also influencing the Brazilian market.

Cepea surveys show that, between August 25th and September 1st, the prices paid to wheat farmers dropped a steep 8.08% in Paraná, 7.88% in Santa Catarina and 6.45% in Rio Grande do Sul. In the wholesale market (deals between processors), values decreased 4.21% in PR, 3.74% in RS, 3.39% in SC and 2.42% in São Paulo. In the same period, the US dollar increased 1.35% against the Real, closing at BRL 4.938 on September 1st.

As for the monthly averages in August, they closed at the lowest levels since December 2019 in both Paraná and São Paulo, in real terms (values were deflated by the IGP-DI). In Paraná, the average in August closed at BRL 1,262.39/ton, 6.1% lower than that on July and a steep 36.5% below that from Aug/22. In SP, the average closed at BRL 1,284.36/ton last month, 5.3% down in the monthly comparison and 37.3% down in the annual comparison.

In Santa Catarina, the monthly average closed at BRL 1,378.38/ton, 3.5% lower than that from July, 32.3% down from that in August last year and the lowest since March 2020, in real terms (IGP-DI). In Rio Grande do Sul, the average in August closed at BRL 1,282.88/ton, 2.2% down in the monthly comparison and a steep 33.9% down from that in August 2022. Last month’s average is still higher than that from June/23, which is the lowest since February 2020, in real terms.

Australia set for lower wheat output as El Nino curbs yields

Sept 4 (Reuters) – Australia is likely to lower its wheat production forecast for 2023/24 by about a million metric tons as dry El Nino weather reduces yields, traders and analysts said, tightening global supplies hit by poor harvests in rival exporters.

The world’s second largest exporter of the grain, Australia is a key supplier to top buyers such as China, Indonesia and Japan, but a strengthening of the El Nino weather event suggests more dry weather in store after the warmest winter on record.

“Compared to last year, the crop’s going to be over 10 million tonnes smaller,” said Ole Houe, of agricultural brokerage IKON Commodities. “It’s a big loss.”

On Tuesday traders and brokers expect the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) to trim about a million tonnes from its June output forecast of 26.2 million tons, itself a 34% drop from the prior year. That comes against the backdrop of three years of record-breaking Australian harvests following plentiful rainfall.

Strategie Grains cuts EU oilseed crop estimates again

Consultancy Strategie Grains has further lowered its outlook for this year’s rapeseed, sunflower seed and soybean harvests in the European Union, tightening expected oilseed supply in the bloc.

In latest monthly forecasts, Strategie Grains estimated production of rapeseed, the EU’s main oilseed crop, at 18.9 million metric tons, down from 19.3 million forecast a month earlier and 2.7% below the 19.4 million harvested last year.

Rapeseed harvests were notably disappointing in France, Germany and Romania, the French-based consultancy said in a report.

For sunflower seed, Strategie Grains cut its outlook for this year’s harvest to 10.3 million tons from 10.5 million, though that is about 10% above 2022 output.

For soybeans, which like sunflower are harvested after summer, the consultancy trimmed its monthly production forecast to 2.84 million tons from 2.87 million, still about 14% above last year’s level.

Dry conditions in Romania led to the downward revision for the EU sunflower seed forecast and also contributed to the reduced outlook for soybeans, together with dryness in France, it said.

The consultancy had already lowered its EU oilseed crop estimates a month ago.

The latest harvest cuts led Strategie Grains to trim its projections for EU oilseed stocks at the end of this season, with the consultancy saying the supply situation for rapeseed and soybeans now appeared barely balanced while for sunflower seed it looked tight.

Diminished harvest supply in rapeseed would be partly offset by imports, with expected shipments from Australia and Ukraine revised up, the firm said.

Australian availability should be supported by ample stocks and reasonable harvest prospects, despite dryness in some zones, it said.

Ukraine supply was seen being supported by a record harvest and continued trade flows despite the closure of a Black Sea grain corridor, with Ukrainian rapeseed shipped to the northern and western EU by train competitive versus domestic supply, Strategie Grains said.

Supply pressure from the upcoming Canadian harvest as well as South American soybean crops in early 2024 may cap EU rapeseed prices, with May 2024 futures on Euronext seen having a downward potential of 25 euros ($26.99) per metric ton, it added.

Projected sunflower seed imports from Ukraine were revised down due to less competitive prices and on the assumption that a ban on Ukrainian supply in five eastern EU countries would be extended until the end of 2023, Strategie Grains said.

Brazil allows farmers to sow new soy before end of fallow period

SAO PAULO, Sept 1 (Reuters) – Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry has approved 48 requests from Mato Grosso soy growers who want to start planting their new crop before the fallow period ends on Sept. 15, according to a statement sent to Reuters on Friday.

During the period, fields are left fallow to prevent the spread of disease such as soybean rust.

The ministry’s authorization came in response to a request from the Mato Grosso Association of Cotton Producers (Ampa).

According to Ampa, this year’s El Nino weather pattern can cut rains sooner, putting crops such as cotton and corn – which are planted after soybeans are harvested – at risk in Mato Grosso state.

Early planting authorizations for commercial purposes are controversial and opposed by Mato Grosso’s crop agency Indea. According to information on Indea’s website, there is no “legal provision” for such permissions.

Critics of an early start to the soy sowing work say it raises sanitary risks, as the fallow period is meant to protect the soil and plants from plagues.

Planting soy sooner means some farmers in Mato Grosso, at the heart of Brazil’s soy country, could harvest their crop before Christmas, which is unusual.

The agriculture ministry said it expects to receive more soy farmers’ requests to start planting early.

The beginning of soybean planting depends on the arrival of spring rains, said Cleiton Gauer, the superintendent for farmer-backed Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea).

According to him, some regions already have received interesting levels of rainfall.

Bayer sees up to 15% of Brazil soy area planted with Intacta2 Xtend GM seed

Germany’s Bayer BAYGn.DE has forecast that between 10% to 15% of Brazil’s soybean area will be sowed with its genetically modified biotech seed Intacta2 Xtend in the 2023/24 season, said Fernando Prudente, who oversees soybeans and cotton for the company in Brazil.

Bayer’s Intacta2 Xtend seed is designed to tolerate herbicides including glyphosate and dicamba and protects the plant against caterpillars.

Brazil’s soybean planting area totaled 44 million hectares (108.7 million acres) in the 2022/23 season, according to crop agency Conab.

Private sector analysts project the area could grow to up to 45.5 million hectares in the 2023/24 cycle. Based on the upper range of analysts’ area forecasts, Bayer’s Intacta2 Xtend could reach 6.8 million hectares in the new season.

According to the executive, the number of Brazilian soy farmers who harvested more than 100 60-kilogram bags per hectare tripled in the 2022/23 marketing year through use of the seed, confirming the technology’s appeal.

He said of 150 farmers surveyed by Bayer, the average yield was 105 bags per hectare. He said the highest yield was recorded in the state of Bahia, where a farmer harvested 129 bags of soybeans per hectare.

The 2023/24 season is Bayer’s third supplying the seed in Brazil, the world’s biggest producer and exporter of soybeans.

Asia’s Favorite Food Is Getting Way More Expensive

The rice shock playing out across Asia has yet to run its course. Headline prices are likely to rally further as major state buyers step up imports to keep local food inflation under control.

The vital food staple has soared this year as India clamps down on shipments to quell inflation at home, while the El Niño weather pattern threatens supplies. The repercussions of that one-two punch are being felt right across the neighborhood. In recent days:

  • Malaysia said it’s planning measures to ensure there are sufficient supplies
  • The Philippines imposed a ceiling on retail prices as accusations of hoarding proliferate and inflation quickens
  • Indonesia said it’s loading up on cargoes from Cambodia
  • Myanmar tightened rules on rice exports in an effort to control soaring prices in its domestic market
  • And Singapore sought an exemption from the Indian trade curbs

A widely followed benchmark Thai rice price is up 26% YTD in a surge that stands in sharp contrast to declines in wheat, corn and soybeans. Given that rice-import demand still appears to be robust and as weather risks remain, further gains are likely. That’ll lift prices to fresh 15-year highs.

Freight Rates Soar as Mississippi River Water Levels Decline (1)

  • Barge rates climb 42% this year, 85% over 3-year average
  • Weight restrictions aim to avoid repeat of 2022 crisis

The cost to transport America’s harvest from the Midwest to the rest of the world is soaring as shrinking water levels on the Mississippi River drive up barge freight rates — with below-average rainfall forecasts offering no relief.

  • Barge spot rates as of Aug. 29 in St. Louis are up 49% from last week and 42% from last year at $23.34 a ton. That’s up 85% from the past three-year average, according to Department of Agriculture data released Wednesday.
  • The data comes as the US prepares to begin its soybean and corn harvest, signaling another tough year for American farmers who already are struggling with drought and fierce competition from Brazil and Russia. Last year, extremely low water levels on the Mississippi stranded more than 2,000 barges, crippling commerce on the vital waterway.
  • Water levels on the Mississippi, which carries more than 45% of US agricultural exports, have been dropping since June, restricting the amount of grain allowed on each barge. This led to a tightening of barge supply as more are required to transport the same amount of grain.
  • Transportation companies are “proactively reducing drafts as they are aware of the problems that heavier barges caused last time around,” said Susan David, a grain analyst for No Bull in St. Louis. “This year it feels like the market is better prepared to handle it.”
  • Low water levels in some locations are creating delays of up to two days and St. Louis loading drafts are approximately 15% below normal capacity, the American Commercial Barge Line said on its website.

US Pork Production Falls 4.5% This Week, Beef Rises: USDA

US federally inspected pork production falls to 494m pounds for the week ending Sept. 2 from 517m in the previous week, according to USDA estimates published on the agency’s website.

Hog slaughter down 4.3% from a week ago to 2.388m head

Beef production up 0.8% from a week ago, cattle slaughter rises 0.5%

For the year, beef production is 4.9% below last year’s level at this time, and pork is 0.3% above

Brazilian Nitrogen Prices Plunge on Slow Demand

Nitrogen prices plunged in Brazil as falling grain prices delayed purchases for the corn safrinha season. With buyers moving slowly, potash prices stabilized in Brazil, while phosphates increased marginally amid thin supply for soybean 2023-24 preparations.

Brazil Urea Falls, Potash Stabilizes, Phosphates Strengthen

Urea prices fell $25 a metric ton (mt) in Brazil for both imports and the domestic market amid slow demand. The corn safrinha purchasing season in the region is expected to be delayed as softer corn prices pressure farmers’ margins. These delays, along with strong supplies, will likely pressure nitrogen further in the coming weeks. Potash prices were stable at $350-$360/mt amid low buying interest, but high inventories and competition among suppliers could push prices down before safrinha demand kicks in. Phosphates were up marginally to $530-$535/mt vs. last week’s $530, and prices might stay firm until planting starts in late September and October for the 2023-24 soybean season. Seasonal demand is expected to fall, possibly driving phosphate prices down in 4Q.

 

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