Ukraine sets grain export quotas

Confirmation that Ukraine will limit maize, wheat and barley exports for the rest of 2010 came yesterday (7 October) and helped keep London November wheat futures around £157/t by late afternoon.

Maize exports will be limited to 2m tonnes and wheat and barley exports to 500,000t for the rest of the year, said the Ukraine agriculture ministry. The country is thought to have exported 3.4m tonnes of grain over the last three months.

The decision to impose quotas was widely anticipated and the tonnage limits are put into context by last season’s export figures which show that 9.34m tonnes of wheat left Ukraine in the 2009/10 season. It had been expected to ship 6m tonnes this season. Coarse grains exports including maize and barley were 11.3m tonnes last season, 5m tonnes of which were maize.

Dry weather is also limiting drilling progress in Ukraine, while the HGCA also reports that heavy rains across Hungary are restricting maize maturation and early harvest progress. Despite this its agricultural ministry is keeping crop estimates unchanged.

Harvest progress at around 45,000ha of the 1.12m ha planted compares with more than 380,000ha a year ago. Feed grain prices in Europe and the UK will be affected if maize availability changes, said HGCA.

The market is waiting for a new supply and demand report from the US Department of Agriculture tomorrow, with eyes trained most closely on US maize yields.

• Grain merchant Gleadell puts the UK wheat crop at around 14.4m tonnes, believing yields overall will not turn out to have achieved DEFRA’s projection of 7.68t/ha. The extent of the unharvested area in Scotland is one of the main factors behind the merchant’s estimate being lower than that from DEFRA.

Trader Jonathan Lane said that although the weaker pound meant that UK wheat was the cheapest in Europe, there was a lack of buyers.