Showers to Help EU Wheat Crops but Analysts Wary of Repeat Drought
Successful Farming– 04/26/2019
Showers have brought some relief to thirsty wheat crops in the European Union, but more rain will be needed in the coming weeks to avert a second successive year of drought damage, analysts said. An increase in wheat sowings by farmers followed by a mild winter has put the EU on course for a rebound from last year’s drought-hit harvest. The European Commission on Friday lifted its forecast of EU common wheat production in 2019/20 to 141.3 million tonnes, up 10 percent from last year, from 140.2 million last month. Rainfall in southern EU countries like Romania and Spain this month should stop further loss of yield potential after a long dry spell, Benoit Fayaud, crop analyst with Strategie Grains, said. Showers moving further north across Europe from this week may also ease dryness for now, he said. “We’re in a halfway house situation in much of Europe,” Fayaud said. “There’s some rain returning but it won’t be enough if the weather is dry in May.” In France, farm office FranceAgriMer cut its rating of soft wheat crops to 79 percent good/excellent for the week ending April 22, down from 81 percent the prior week and extending a decline this month.
Trade Issues Make Planting Decisions a Challenge in Canada, too
Much like the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Prospective Plantings Report that is released at the end of March each year, the Statistics Canada Seeding Intentions Report gets a lot of attention in late April. Farmers’ expected plans for planting shape market expectations before any crop sample or yield estimate can, and provides an early picture for the coming crop year. This year, there are plenty of things that farmers had to think about that are outside of the normal considerations such as crop rotation plans, prices and input costs. Some of those things include the tumultuous trade relationships with China, unknown plans for India’s pulse support of farmers and associated trade restrictions, and growing global wheat supplies after a bad year in 2018. Chinese canola purchases have slowed to zero, leaving supplies quite large in Canada as geopolitical tensions and some quality issues have moved China to effectively halt imports. On top of that, African swine fever is killing hogs in such a way that future feed demand is uncertain…Wheat area in Canada is expected to increase by 3.8% from a year ago, totaling 25.7 million acres. This holds a 12% bump in spring wheat area to 19.4 million acres. Other grains are set to increase in 2019 as well, like corn and oats. In the U.S., the winter wheat crop is in incredible shape, with the Department of Agriculture reporting 62% of the crop as good or excellent from last week’s 60%. All the rain across the Plains is a hassle for spring planting, but it definitely favors the winter wheat crop’s early development.
Trump Highlights Ag in Japan Trade Talks
Agri-Pulse – 04/26/2019
President Donald Trump highlighted the importance of getting Japan to lower its tariffs on U.S. farm commodities as the two countries hash out a bilateral free trade agreement, a deal he said is progressing very rapidly. “We’ll be discussing very strongly agriculture because … Japan puts very massive tariffs on … our agriculture going for many years into Japan,” Trump said in a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi is accompanying Abe on the trip to Washington, and the minister is meeting separately with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to negotiate the deal. While it is true that Japan does impose tariffs on U.S. ag commodities, U.S. negotiators are expected to primarily be focusing on getting those taxes lowered to levels set for major competitors that already have free trade agreements with Japan. “In recent weeks, Japan cut tariffs for the second time on agricultural imports from the European Union and (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) member countries,” dozens of agriculture groups and companies said in a recent letter to Lighthizer. “As a result, U.S. exporters of wheat, beef, pork, dairy, wine, potatoes, fruits and vegetables, and other products are facing collapse of their Japanese market share as these lucrative sales are handed over to their competitors.”
US-China Trade Talks are in the ‘Final Laps,’ Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Says
CNBC – 04/29/2019
Trade talks between the U.S. and China are now in the final stages, said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, ahead of this week’s meeting in Beijingbetween negotiators from both sides, according to a New York Times report. “We’re getting into the final laps,” the report quoted Mnuchin as saying, in an interview at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles. “I think both sides have a desire to reach an agreement,” Mnuchin said, according to the New York Times report. “We’ve made a lot of progress.” According to the report, Mnuchin said that while both countries are nearing a deal, the negotiations are reaching a stage where either an agreement could happen — or it could end without a deal. Mnuchin, together with U.S Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, have been trying to negotiate a deal with Chinese representatives amid a protracted trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Both sides have met several times in a bid to hammer out a deal to end their trade differences. The talks so far have focused on a range of issues, including forced technology transfer and structural reforms.
2019 Hard Red Winter Tour Hits the Road
The Progressive Farmer – 04/26/2019
It’s become one of surest signs that spring is underway — for three days, dozens of people crouch in Kansas wheat fields, in rain or shine, with a ruler and a pen, measuring wheat stands across the state. The Wheat Quality Council’s annual Hard Red Winter Wheat tour will hit the road next week to scout fields and give the industry an idea of what kind of wheat crop to expect when the combines roll this summer. This year, scouts may get a break from two years of extreme weather conditions in the Southern Great Plains. “Two years ago, we were scouting wheat in the snow, and last year, it was very dry and I was very pessimistic about the crop,” recalled Dave Green, executive president of the Wheat Quality Council and tour organizer. After a rough start in the fall of 2018, much of the winter wheat crop appears to be in pretty good shape this spring. “A lot of the crop didn’t get in on time, and that triggers a whole set of worries about emergence and freezes,” Green noted. “But we’re finding that the wheat does look really good. It is late, but it is tillering and setting stands, and I suspect we’re going to see pretty good wheat.”
Source: U.S. Wheat Associates