Global Ag News for Sept 1.23
UN chief sends Russia bid to revive Black Sea grain deal
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday that he had sent Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “a set of concrete proposals” aimed at reviving a deal that allowed the safe export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea.
Russia quit the deal in July – a year after it was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey – complaining that its own food and fertilizer exports faced obstacles and that not enough Ukrainian grain was going to countries in need.
Guterres’ letter comes ahead of a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan. Two Turkish sources told Reuters the pair will meet on Monday and primarily discuss Black Sea grain exports.
The Black Sea grain deal was intended to combat a global food crisis that the United Nations said had been worsened by Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine are both leading grain exporters.
“I believe we presented a proposal that could be the basis for a renewal, but a renewal that must be stable,” Guterres told reporters, without elaborating on details of the proposal.
“We cannot have a Black Sea initiative that moves from crisis to crisis, from suspension to suspension. We need to have something that works and that works to the benefit of everyone,” he said.
A Russian diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters earlier on Thursday “there are no revelations” in Guterres’ letter to Lavrov and that it just “sums up of previous U.N. ideas, which didn’t fly.”
Lavrov said earlier on Thursday, after meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Moscow, that Russia sees no sign that it will receive the guarantees that will allow it to resume the Black Sea grain deal.
Russia has said that if demands to improve its own exports of grain and fertilizer were met, it would consider resurrecting the Black Sea agreement. One of Moscow’s main demands is for the Russian Agricultural Bank to be reconnected to the SWIFT international payments system. The EU cut it off in June 2022.
While Russian exports of food and fertilizer are not subject to Western sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has said restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance have hindered shipments.
“We have some concrete solutions … allowing for more effective access of Russian food and fertilizers to global markets at adequate prices,” Guterres said. “I believe that, working seriously, we can have a positive solution for everybody.”
FUTURES & WEATHER
Wheat prices overnight are up 3 3/4 in SRW, up 4 1/4 in HRW, up 1 1/2 in HRS; Corn is up 2 1/4; Soybeans up 12 1/4; Soymeal up $4.30; Soyoil up 0.60.
For the week so far wheat prices are down 16 in SRW, down 33 in HRW, down 33 3/4 in HRS; Corn is down 7 3/4; Soybeans down 6 3/4; Soymeal down $6.70; Soyoil down 0.28.
Year-To-Date nearby futures are down 27.7% in SRW, down 17.7% in HRW, down 21.7% in HRS; Corn is down 31.8%; Soybeans down 10.4%; Soymeal down 11.5%; Soyoil up 3.4%.
Chinese Ag futures (NOV 23) Soybeans up 5 yuan; Soymeal down 35; Soyoil down 18; Palm oil up 6; Corn down 12 — Malaysian Palm is up 23.
Malaysian palm oil prices overnight were up 23 ringgit (+0.57%) at 4033.
There were changes in registrations (462 SRW Wheat, 24 Oats, 100 HRW Wheat). Registration total: 2,860 SRW Wheat contracts; 741 Oats; 0 Corn; 0 Soybeans; 67 Soyoil; 0 Soymeal; 312 HRW Wheat.
Preliminary changes in futures Open Interest as of August 31 were: SRW Wheat up 5,168 contracts, HRW Wheat up 2,952, Corn up 7,739, Soybeans down 4,299, Soymeal down 1,500, Soyoil down 3,591.
Northern Plains: Above-normal temperatures will be more common than not in the Northern Plains through the weekend. A disturbance moving through the Canadian Prairies may produce some isolated showers Thursday, but most of the region will be dry. That will favor the remaining wheat harvest, but not filling corn and soybeans. A system will push through the region early next week that could bring more widespread showers.
Central/Southern Plains: Heat will continue to build in the Central and Southern Plains through the weekend and will be intense at times. Any rainfall will be limited or non-existent, not a good way to end the season for filling corn and soybeans.
Midwest: Temperatures will rise again in the Midwest this weekend. Significant heat is forecast for early September. A front will pass into northern areas next week with potential for showers. A remnant tropical piece of energy may be sucked northward into the region midweek as well, though that is uncertain. Any rainfall will be helpful for filling corn and soybeans considering the heat stress that will be likely.
Canadian Prairies: Disturbances will run through the Canadian Prairies through mid-September with scattered showers, which may disrupt the wheat and canola harvests. It would be more favorable for forages, and possibly start the process for rebuilding soil moisture, however.
Delta: Milder temperatures are in the Delta, but heat will return this weekend into next week, which could be extremely hot again. A leftover piece of tropical energy will move along the Gulf Coast over the next few days. It may be pushed northward through the region early-mid next week, bringing potential for needed showers.
Argentina: A front and system moving through Argentina late this week and weekend is forecast to bring heavier rain to a lot of the country, which is in need of rain after last season’s drought. El Nino is a favorable background feature for the country and the continued active weather pattern suggests that is starting to pick up prior to spring planting, which begins in about a month.
The player sheet for Aug. 31 had funds: net sellers of 1,000 contracts of SRW wheat, sellers of 500 corn, sellers of 8,000 soybeans, sellers of 2,500 soymeal, and sellers of 500 soyoil.
- SOYBEAN SALES: The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed private sales of 132,000 metric tons of U.S. soybeans for shipment to China in the 2023/24 marketing year.
- CORN SALE: The Korea Feed Association (KFA) purchased an estimated 68,000 metric tons of animal feed corn in an international tender on Thursday.
- CORN SALE: Leading South Korean animal feed maker Nonghyup Feed Inc. (NOFI) bought an estimated 135,000 metric tons of animal feed corn in an international tender for up to 138,000 tons on Thursday, traders said. It was expected to be sourced from either South America or South Africa.
- DURUM, BARLEY SALES: Tunisia’s state grains agency is believed to have purchased about 100,000 metric tons of durum wheat and 50,000 tons of animal feed barley in international tenders on Thursday.
- DURUM SALE: Algeria’s state grains agency OAIC is believed to have purchased durum wheat in an international tender which closed on Thursday.
- 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.
US Export Sales of Soybeans, Corn and Wheat by Country
The following shows US export sales of soybeans, corn and wheat by biggest net buyers for week ending Aug. 24, according to data on the USDA’s website.
- China was the top buyer of soybeans in the week with 498k tons
- Mexico was the top buyer of corn and China led in wheat
US Export Sales of Pork and Beef by Country
- Mexico bought 12k tons of the 37.3k tons of pork sold in the week
- China led in beef purchases
CROP SURVEY: US Soybean Crush and Corn for Ethanol
The following is from a Bloomberg survey of five anlaysts.
- Soybean crush seen at 184m bu in July, a 1.4% rise from a year ago
- Crude and once-refined soybean-oil reserves at end of July seen at 2.094b lbs, down from 2.267b
- Corn used in ethanol production seen up 3.8% y/y to 462.7
Argentine Corn Production Estimate Aug. 31: Exchange
The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange releases weekly report on website.
- 2022-23 corn production est. maintained at 34m tons
- Harvest advances to 98.9% complete
Argentina Drought Extends, Cutting Yield Potential for Wheat
A drought in Argentina continues to hurt the Pampas growing belt, meaning “wheat plants in prime areas are starting to lose yield potential,” the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange said in a weekly report.
NOTE: Argentina was forecast to emerge from a brutal drought this year thanks to El Nino, but rains haven’t come as soon or as heavily as first thought
Dryness and frosts are conditioning wheat plants in central areas, particularly in the west where water reserves are “practically nil”
Rains forecast for September could be enough to supply plants for their next growth stage
IKAR Raises Russia Wheat Crop Forecast to 91m Tons: Rylko
IKAR raised its Russian 2023 wheat crop estimate to 91m tons from 89.5m tons expected earlier, Dmitry Rylko, director of the Moscow-based consultant said.
- Potential wheat export outlook for 2023-24 season raised to 49.5m tons
- IKAR sees 2023 grain harvest at 140m tons
- Grain exports expected at 64m tons in 2023-24 season
Malaysia Aug. Palm Oil Exports Fall to 1.172m Tons: AmSpec
Malaysia’s palm oil exports fell to 1.172mtons in August from 1.177mtons in July, according to AmSpec Agri. Palm oil exports fell 0.42% m/m versus +7.8% in July
France Corn Harvest Starts; Almost All Spring Barley Collected
The French corn harvest has started, with 1% of the crop collected as of Aug. 28, according to weekly data from FranceAgriMer.
- That’s the same pace as a year earlier
- For crop conditions, 82% of corn is rated good or very good
- That’s the same as the prior week and compares to 46% a year earlier
- Spring-barley harvest is 99% complete, unchanged from the prior week
Freight Rates Soar as Mississippi River Water Levels Decline
- 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 — and the forecast for below-than-average rainfall offers 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 3-year average, according to data from the Department of Agriculture released Wednesday.
The data comes just as the US prepares to begin its soybean and corn harvest, signaling another tough year for US farmers who already are struggling with drought and fierce competition from Brazil and Russia. Last year, extremely low water levels on the Mississippi River stranded more than 2,000 barges, crippling commerce on the vital waterway.
Water levels on the Mississippi River, 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 barges 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.”
Australia Set to Reduce Wheat Outlook in Blow to Key Buyer China
- Hotter, drier weather has scorched growing areas across nation
- Government to update estimate on expected harvest on Tuesday
Australia is expected to reduce its forecast for the upcoming wheat harvest as hotter conditions bake growing areas, a blow to buyers such as China which may need more imports after rain damaged its crop.
Drier conditions across top producer Western Australia has already led to an industry association trimming its estimate for the state’s wheat crop, while parts of the east coast have also been hotter. The government’s forecaster is scheduled to release its overall grains outlook on Tuesday.
“If it gets drier and production falls below average, a higher proportion of our grain will need to remain on the domestic market to meet our own demand,” said Dennis Voznesenski, an analyst with Rabobank in Sydney.
China is expected to feed a lot more of its wheat to animals this year after heavy rains reduced the quality of its harvest, likely increasing the need for more imports. Extreme weather from scorching temperatures to flooding has damaged various crops across the world, adding to pressures on supply that includes Russia’s war in Ukraine and India’s export curbs on rice.
In June, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics forecast a 34% decline in the 2023-24 wheat crop at 26.2 million tons, slightly below the 10-year average. The Grain Industry Association of Western Australia said last month that the state’s wheat output is unlikely to exceed 10 million tons.
Below average rainfall is expected for most of Australia in the coming months, according to a forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology. The nation typically starts harvesting its wheat crop in November, and China has been the biggest importer of the country’s grain the past two years.
Australia may reduce its wheat exports by more than 10 million tons in 2023-24, said Ole Houe, chief executive officer at broker and adviser IKON Commodities. The nation shipped over 32 million tons in 2022-23 following a bumper harvest, according to the nation’s agriculture department.
“The wheat crop started the year looking likely to be an above average crop, but dry weather has started to permeate and the crop is likely to be downgraded,” said Andrew Whitelaw, director of Australia-based agriculture analysis company Episode 3.
After driest August, India could receive average rains in September
India is likely to receive an average amount of rainfall in September, the country’s top weather official said on Thursday, after the driest August in more than a century.
The monsoon, vital for the $3 trillion economy, delivers nearly 70% of the rain India needs to water farms and refill reservoirs and aquifers.
Monsoon rains were 36% below average in August and overall summer rains were 10% lower than normal since the season began on June 1, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director-general of the India Meteorological Department, told a virtual news conference.
“There have been weak monsoon activities on most days in August and rains were rather weak in most parts of the country,”
Mohapatra said. “Only some regions that were dry in June and July got better rains in August.”
Due to a weak start, monsoon rains were 9% below average in June, with rains rebounding to 13% above average in July. Summer rains again turned patchy in August.
Earlier this month Reuters reported that India was headed for its driest August in more than a century, partly due to the El Niño weather pattern.
El Nino, a warming of waters that usually stifles rainfall over the Indian subcontinent, has emerged in the tropical Pacific for the first time in seven years.
After recording the weakest August, overall monsoon rains were 10% below average between June and August. The driest August has also set India up for its lowest monsoon rains in eight years.
When El Nino hit monsoon rains in 2015, India faced widespread drought.
Patchy monsoon rains raise concern about the output of summer crops such as rice.
The erratic distribution of monsoon rains has led India, the world’s largest rice exporter, to limit rice shipments, impose a 40% tax on onion exports, permit duty-free imports of pulse, and could potentially result in New Delhi banning sugar exports.
NZ Institute Says EL Niño Conditions May Be Reached in September
The National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research says the conditions needed to officially classify El Niño in a New Zealand context may be reached during September, according to emailed statement.
- “NIWA is closely monitoring the developing El Niño and may be in a position to classify El Niño conditions as having officially arrived in a New Zealand context over the next month. For now, an El Niño Alert continues”
- Says while sea surface temperatures already exceeded El Nino thresholds, the Southern Oscillation Index which indicates atmospheric conditions was not there yet
- Says El Niño is expected to develop in the next month or two with a 95% chance of it continuing through summer 2023-2024, and a 55% chance it will continue through autumn 2024
- Sees more frequent westerly-quarter winds for New Zealand from the 2H of September
China’s Shenzhen to suspend work, transportation as Typhoon Saola nears
China’s southern tech hub Shenzhen city will suspend work, businesses, transportation and markets from Friday afternoon as it braces for the impact of Super Typhoon Saola, the city’s emergency response authorities said.
Authorities also urged residents to stay at home, and said they will open all available shelters in the city.
Shenzhen had already suspended classes at schools from Thursday afternoon.
Saola could make landfall Friday night or Saturday morning as a severe typhoon along the coast of Guangdong province, China’s National Meteorological Center said.
US Miss. River Grain Shipments Rise, Barge Rates Increase: USDA
Barge shipments down the Mississippi river increased to 202k tons in the week ending Aug. 26 from 189k tons the previous week, according to the USDA’s weekly grain transportation report.
- Barge shipments of corn rose 2.4% from the previous week
- Soybean shipments little changed from the previous week
- St. Louis barge rates were $23.34 per short ton, an increase of $7.70 from the previous week
USDA Raises Estimate of 2023 Farm Income to $141 Billion
The USDA revised up its estimate of US farmer profits by $4.4 billion from its previous estimate in February, according to the Farm Income and Financial Forecasts report released Thursday on the agency’s website.
- Compared to 2022, income expected to fall by 23%
- Income from crops expected to fall by 4% y/y, while income from livestock expected 4.6% lower
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