Grain price sentiment has been up and down over the past week.

December 2022 MATIF wheat went as high as €360.25/t last Friday and Monday and closed last week at €356.75/t.

It fell back again this week to close at €349.75/t on Tuesday.

There are many different factors driving market sentiment but the major recent driver is again the Black Sea conflict.

This continues to be a watch point despite the increasing grain flow from Ukraine.

The heightening tensions mean many traders are now looking for supply sources outside of Russia.

Chicago maize prices took a significant jump last week and this seems to be holding.

This was driven by the recent estimate of US stock levels which were put at 35Mt.

This number is up on last year but it was lower than had been expected by the trade and so it became a driver of maize prices on the Chicago market.

Lower supply

Chicago wheat (December 2022) also rose at the end of last week but this has weakened slightly since. The gain followed cuts to overall wheat production estimates in the US.

The most recent USDA estimate put its wheat crop at 44.9Mt, which is lower than the number given in its World Agriculture Supply and Demand estimate in August (48.5Mt).

The reduced production estimate is due to significant crop abandonment in western regions as a result of the dry soil conditions experienced there during the year.

The new estimate is the second lowest wheat crop in the US over the past 20 years.

The European Commission also reduced its maize output forecast on Friday of last week to 55.5Mt. This is down almost 4Mt from its previous forecast of 59.3Mt but it is still higher than the 52.9Mt forecast from Stratégie Grains.

There are also reports of slow maize planting in Argentina due to drought. Fears are again high for a repeat of a La Niña weather event.

Native prices

Markets remain uncertain but physical prices are a bit stronger this week. This is partly due to stronger sterling, tightening supply and increased Black Sea tensions.

Dairygold this week announced it will pay €302/t for green barley and €312/t for green wheat. Nearby dry prices see wheat back up in the €350 to €355/t range, with barley around €10/t lower at €340 to €345/t.

Oilseed rape prices have increased in recent weeks. MATIF November closed on Tuesday at €646.25/t and November 2023 closed at €645.75/t. These price levels are considerably higher than three to four weeks ago, making them worth considering for a forward sale, as the outlook is downwards.