Another week and another round of market volatility. To be fair, volatility doesn’t always mean the market moves sharply up and down, but it is relative to the long-term price action for a particular time of year. Traditionally, as the Northern Hemisphere sleeps through their winter, the wheat market also tends to tread water, waiting for the Spring action.

This year is different though.  Wheat is an active follower of corn and beans this year, and both of these commodities are surging on tightening supplies and huge demand.  The South American bean harvest is slow to get started due to recent rain.  There is a virtual flotilla of bulk carriers waiting to be loaded out of Brazil, but weather waits for no man.  The crop is there, but questions around quality and pod losses will keep the bean market supported.

Market analysts are also trimming South American corn prospects on the back of planting delays.  The cuts, while likely to be relatively small, nonetheless are adding support to corn prices as the US experiences a steady tightening of their own supplies.  It is a long time before corn harvest, and it appears inevitable that some kind of demand rationing will need to occur. 

It makes for an interesting dynamic come April/May when the US farmer decides what to plant.  I suspect the fight for acres will add another element of volatility to an already turbulent market.

Throwing the virtual spanner in the works, is the Russian Gov’t export tax intervention aimed to lower the domestic price of food and feed.  The initial response to the tax (which comes into effect 15th Feb) was a very confused Russian exporter, but also the assumption that demand would spontaneously flow to the US.  The result has seen wheat prices rally, totally at odds to what President Putin was trying to achieve.  The incremental increase of said export taxes due to come into effect 15th March, exacerbated this. 

Now the Russian Gov’t has formulated a floating tax due to come in 1st June.  This has added another element of confusion to global wheat markets. The floating tax will be at 70% of the price remaining after $200/t of the export price.  For corn and barley, it will be set at $185/t.  This is a huge deal and will certainly cap Russian cash values, and likely global values.  This in effect also means the Russian farmer will have no choice but to keep selling their grain and will have very little benefit from holding. 

Clearly President Putin is not a fan of the Russian farmers newfound taste of capitalism.  The spirit of Glasnost is fading and this new level of Gov’t regulation couldn’t come at a worse time for the new wheat superpower.

Next week

Short term, the wheat market will remain supported by Chinese demand and production uncertainty in South America.  I would expect that once the Russian farmer accepts their fate, and begins to sell again, we will see some weakness creep in to the wheat market.  Beware the new season inverse as buyers will be licking their lips at the prospect of cheaper commodities.  

Have any questions or comments?

We love to hear from you!

Click on graph to expand

Click on graph to expand

Data sources: CRM Agri, Dartboard Commodities, Mecardo. 

Make decisions with confidence- ask about our board packs, bespoke forecasting and risk management services

Have any questions or comments?

We love to hear from you!
Grains & Oilseeds

Wheat feeling the cold

Another choppy week in the Ag markets this week. This time the catalyst has not been political interference or distorted trade, but weather. Really cold

Read More »
Frosty wheat
Grains & Oilseeds

US cold snap spikes CBOT wheat

Forecasts of unseasonally cold temperatures of -15C in some US states, carrying the potential to kill planted wheat crops; are bullish for the US wheat

Read More »
Grains & Oilseeds

WASDE focus on demand

Much of the news this week has centred around the USDA’s World Agricultural Supply & Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. Pre-report, much of the money was

Read More »

Don’t have an account with us? Join free.

You can have full premium access to all of our content with a monthly or annual subscription. 

Alternatively, create a free account to access our Insights blog and two free premium article a month!

Independent analysis and outlook for wool, livestock and grain markets delivered to you as it’s published

Commodity conversations podcast cover image, a illustration of a sheep standing on a cow's back with grain either side
Listen to the podcast

Join the Mecardo team for the Commodity Conversations podcast, where we provide short weekly market recaps and longer conversations with guests to discuss the drivers and trends in livestock, grain and fibre markets.

Photo of a farmer surrounded by Merino sheep in dusty yards
Research: Analysis of the Australian sheep flock

In this report for LiveCorp and MLA, we analysed the historical trends in the demographics of the Australian sheep flock, examining domestic factors that influence farm-level enterprise decision making. 

Image of harvested grain pouring into a chaser bin
SERVICES AND CAPABILITIES STATEMENT BROCHURE

We don’t just bring you the most up to date market insights. Find out more about Mecardo’s services including risk management advisory, modelling, benchmarking, research & consultancy.