Last week saw the return of in-person events for the Irish Tillage and Land Use Society (ITLUS), with its spring workshop held on Furlong’s Farm in Co Wexford on Tuesday 22 February.
Attendees at the event enjoyed the speakers and the demonstrations, but perhaps most importantly, they enjoyed the day out, meeting friends, colleagues and faces that they haven’t seen since before the pandemic.
Nevertheless, there was plenty to learn and take in, from fertiliser spreader set up to plant nutrition and oilseed rape management.
David Bourke, commodity trader at Comex McKinnon, had the difficult task of describing grain markets ahead of the invasion of Ukraine last week.
Over the course of the year, approximately 375-380m tonnes are traded on that market
The first thing he did was outline the size of some of the markets.
He noted that approximately 1.5m tonnes are traded daily on the MATIF milling wheat market, but this reaches 2.5-3m tonnes some days.
Over the course of the year, approximately 375-380m tonnes are traded on that market.
Looking at the Chicago Board of Trade, about 12m tonnes are traded daily, but David noted that this can reach 19m to 20m tonnes and over the course of the year, approximately 3bn tonnes are traded on that market.
To put this into context, Ireland produces approximately 2.2m tonnes of grain each year.
Looking at prices, David stated that politics are having a huge impact on prices at present, but the fundamentals of the market are also still at play.
The next few months will tell how much planting takes place, how much fertiliser farmers are using on crops and how yield will be impacted.
I’m a big believer, whether it’s on the buying or the selling side, to participate in the market little and often
He noted that drought is still limiting capacity on boats coming from South America, while securing vessels continues to be a challenge and at prices 2.5-3 times higher than normal.
On selling, he had some advice: “I’m a big believer, whether it’s on the buying or the selling side, to participate in the market little and often.
“What we’re trying to do is get an average and that applies if you’re a buyer or a seller.
At some point, the market will reflect on the supply and demand side
“Keep participating. By participating and doing, say 10%, it allows you to come to the market on any given day based on the facts or the circumstances in front of you, to take out another wedge of business and still be able to sit back and come back to the market at a time you choose.”
David noted that it’s still quite early in the crop cycle.
“At some point, the market will reflect on the supply and demand side and start to look at yields for next harvest and ultimately that will determine new crop prices,” he added.