The first US Department of Agriculture (USDA) crop planting report of the year was released this week, showing that 2% of the country’s anticipated maize area had been planted.
The 2021 US maize area is expected to reach 36.9 million ha (Mha), 2.2% below trade expectations. In addition, US stocks of maize at the beginning of March sat at 195.6 million tonne (Mt), 1.7Mt tighter than trade expectations.
As a result, global grain markets ended strong last week. The bullish signals for maize were enough to outweigh the bearish wheat news.
US farmers intend to plant 18.8Mha to wheat in 2021, 3.1% above trade expectations and 4.5% up year on year. Furthermore, US stocks of all wheat types were 2.8% above trade estimates at 35.8Mt.
Weather stories in northern and southern hemispheres will likely be the key drivers of market volatility over the coming months.
In Brazil, safrinha (second crop) maize planting is almost complete, but soil moisture is lacking after la Niña. Longer-range weather forecasts suggest only average rainfall in the next month, which may hinder crop prospects, according to the AHDB. Global trader StoneX has reduced its estimate of safrinha maize by 3.65Mt, to 77.65Mt.
North American weather is also expected to be key as maize planting progresses and other crops develop. The USDA crop report showed winter wheat conditions to be broadly in line with the five-year average.
Elsewhere, Russian analytics firm Sovecon cut its estimate of 2020/21 Russian wheat exports by 200tonnes, to 38.9Mt.
Native prices are broadly similar to last week after easing due to weakening futures sentiment.
A relatively kind spring so far has dampened demand and with old-crop prices still holding strong, physical sales and movement of grain is minimal.
Native wheat is in the region of around €240/t, with barley around €220/t.
Imported maize has strengthened on last week to €255/t. New-crop wheat is currently put around €200 to €203/t, with barley at €195/t.
The FOB Creil July 2021 malting barley price is trading above €210/t.
However, with China requiring 3.5mt of malting barley this season and Australia still out of the picture, there is scope for the market to remain robust throughout the season, according to the IFA.
The pricing tracker for those supplying Boortmalt will kick in on 15 April and will run until 23 September.