Grain column with Emma Croft

Emma Croft, farm trader at Anderson Grain Marketing Limited.
Emma Croft, farm trader at Anderson Grain Marketing Limited.

The grain markets are extremely quiet this week as the trade eagerly awaits the release of this month’s edition of the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), courtesy of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Although the report will include updated figures for the current 2015-2016 trading season, it will also include the USDA’s first estimates for the upcoming 2016-2017 trading season (which commences on the 1st July).

As this report goes to press, the estimates should have been released therefore please treat this week’s ex-farm values with caution! The trade isn’t expecting anything overly exciting with this month’s numbers but the first look at next season’s estimates can often cause a stir, particularly amongst new crop values.

New crop feed wheat values are unchanged this week and values in the short term remain under pressure; with such a large carryover forecast there is little need to over-buy wheat for delivery in August/September/October, regardless of the fact that we could be looking at a later than normal start to this year’s harvest.

However, we are beginning to see some movement in values for November onwards as uncertainty regarding this year’s European wheat crop remains. Generally speaking, crops have emerged from winter dormancy in a good condition and a wet and warm April allowed for a good spring drilling campaign. Regardless, these next few weeks will be crucial for crop assessment for those of you looking to make a sale for early 2017, this is where the volatility, and therefore potential selling opportunities are.

Speaking of crop assessment, a three day tour of Kansas’ Hard Red Winter Wheat crop took place last week and as reported by the HGCA (please see their website for more), ‘findings look positive in terms of yield potential’.

Initial concerns regarding dry weather throughout Kansas, one of the key US wheat growing regions, were eased last week and the recent spring rains appear to have benefitted the crop. Yield expectations are as high as 3.3 tonnes per hectare in southern parts of the state – a step up from the 2.3 tonnes per hectare achieved last year and the five year average of 2.4 tonnes per hectare.

Other tours of Nebraska and Colorado, also key wheat producing states, have also brought high expectations – Nebraskan yields are forecast at 3.6 tonnes per hectare (against 2.5 tonnes achieved last year) whilst yields for Colorado are estimated at 2.6 tonnes per hectare.

Harvesting commences around the end of May/start of June in Kansas so although these results may seem comparably premature when we look at our crops here in the UK, they are actually a good indication of what this year’s US harvest should look like.