Grain and oilseeds markets are suffering from a bout of nerves on crop and weather news. While the UK and other parts of Europe are getting much-needed rain, winter kill to cereals and frost damage to oilseed rape in France and Germany is causing concern.

At the same time, the USA is well ahead on spring maize planting and its wheat crop is forward enough for predictions of an early harvest.

The London May feed wheat futures contract was trading a £176/t as Farmers Weekly went to press on Wednesday (25 April), buoyed by the prospect of a tight close to the current season.

New crop is still at roughly a £20/t discount to old crop, with November 2012 futures at £155.75/t. Underlying exchange rates had helped, said Frontier Agriculture’s trading director, Jon Duffy. New crop prices at this level would give growers a positive return, he said.

The EU’s MARS crop forecasting service sees crop yields from the forthcoming harvest across the 27 member states at average levels. However, plant development in Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, parts of Poland, Germany and France is poorer than optimum levels.

Yields in Spain, Portugal and Morocco are still at risk from dry conditions, which could mean more export potential for UK crops.

Market pointers

  • Strategie Grains drops forecast of 2012 EU soft wheat output by more than 4m tonnes to 126.8m tonnes.
  • French farm ministry reports loss of 350,000ha of winter wheat to cold, damaged crops, mainly being replaced with spring barley and maize.
  • Oilseed prices firm on reduced soya bean crop outlooks in Argentina and Brazil, along with heavy buying by Chinese
  • China expected to buy more than 50m tonnes of soya beans in 2012, when world oilseed production is expected to fall by 15m tonnes.
  • EU oilseed crop is expected to fall to 18.5m tonnes, although a higher area here means UK likely to produce record crop this year.
  • Canada to plant new record oilseed rape area.