Posts Tagged ‘wheat’

Wheat Is The Most Political Commodity In The World

April 14th, 2018
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Wheat is an essential ingredient in food that feeds the world. The price of wheat, like all agricultural commodities, depends on weather conditions in primary growing regions each year.

In 2008, the price of wheat rose to its all-time peak price at $13.345 per bushel as drought conditions limited supplies and caused the price to explode to the upside. At the beginning of 2000, the price of the grain was trading at $2.49 per bushel. While weather caused the rally to dizzying heights in 2008, the price of wheat has been making higher lows over the past eighteen years because of demographic factors. Global population has increased from 6 billion at the turn of the century to 7.465 billion, which means that there are 1.465 billion more people requiring food in the world these days.

While all commodities are finite resources, food is a daily essential. The rate of population growth means that each day, more people with more money compete for commodities. When it comes to wheat, history tells us that it is one, if not the most, political commodity as bread is a daily essential for people all over the globe.

A long political history for the primary ingredient in bread

Nothing can ignite civil disobedience and political upheaval like hungry people. Governments are highly sensitive to food availability because hunger has a long history of unseating those in charge. The French Revolution began as bread shortages caused royalty to literally lose their heads. “Let them eat cake” is a famous quote attributed to the Queen of France Marie-Antoinette. As the story goes, it was her response after being told that her starving peasant subjects had no bread. Her insensitivity to the hunger of her people led to a trip to the guillotine.

There are many examples of how bread shortages or rising prices have resulted in political change throughout history. The most recent example was the Arab Spring in 2010, which began as demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt over rising bread prices and limited availability. Drought conditions in 2008 took the price of wheat, the primary ingredient in bread to the highest level in modern history at over $13 per bushel.



Commodities ,

Texas wheat industry begins recovery after Hurricane Harvey

September 11th, 2017
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With Hurricane Harvey gone and most of the damage assessed, the Texas wheat industry looks forward to repairing, rebuilding and getting back to work.

Hurricane Harvey dropped a record of 50 inches, or 127 centimeters, of rain.

Following the flooding from Hurricane Harvey, some Texas ports are still closed, rail embargos remain in effect and virtually no wheat was inspected for export last week at Texas grain export elevators.

“Even with the human and industrial costs of the storm, the supply chain is making good progress toward bringing the system fully back on line as soon as possible,” the U.S. Wheat Association (USW) said.

The U.S. Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) reported regions of Louisiana and North and South Texas account for 46% of total U.S. wheat exports based on the 5-year average. Texas elevators near Galveston, Houston and Corpus Christi account for about 56% of total Gulf wheat export volume. Texas wheat exports are almost all hard red wheat (HRW), and most of the volume moves through elevators in the Galveston and Houston area, which took the brunt of the storm.

The Port of Houston, which is a 25-mile-long complex of 150-plus private and public industrial terminals along the 52-mile-long Houston Ship Channel, closed in preparation of the storm making landfall. The port officially began recovery operations on Sept. 1. Fourteen container vessels have been serviced by a crew of 120 at Barbours Cut and Bayport terminals and those containers handled 3,000 additional gate transactions.

The Corpus Christi area did not experience the full force of the hurricane, so rail and elevator service likely will come back on line there first. The Port of Corpus Christi, about 220 miles to the south, is ranked 17th in the waterborne movement of agricultural commodities, with a total movement of 2.5 million tonnes.

“Reports from the Port of Corpus Christi indicate that grain elevators are mostly operational,” said Darby Sullivan, communications director with the Texas Wheat Producers Board, Amarillo, Texas. “Last week’s closure was to ensure that ships were able to enter the port safely. This week, they estimated that the railroads are running at about 80% speed and capacity.”

The USW noted it has not been able to obtain much detail about elevator operations in the North Texas region, but Sullivan said flood recovery work is still needed at some of the elevators. One elevator manager from the Houston area told her they loaded and unloaded some rail cars, but did not expect to be fully operational until late this week. At this point, the status of rail bed repairs will have the most influence on when the interruption eases.

With the safety and well-being of its employees and their families as its top priority, the Union Pacific (UP) Railroad said on Sept. 2 it is making good progress repairing lines serving the North Texas elevators. Some lines have re-opened, and the UP said even crucial east-west lines blocked by flood damage may be repaired by Sept. 7. The railroad’s report on Sept. 6 confirmed its progress on repairs.

The BNSF Railroad also serves the Texas Gulf supply system. Its latest report to customers on Sept. 5 said, “with improving conditions and aggressive efforts by our BNSF crews, rail service on most BNSF subdivisions in the Houston area and throughout southeastern Texas has been restored.”

Although the railroad said it is experiencing ongoing challenges involving the primary rail line that provides access to locations southwest of Houston, including Corpus Christi and Brownsville, it is re-routing or diverting as much traffic as possible around this affected location as well as other areas that are currently blocked. BNSF access into the Houston complex from the north and west is largely clear, the railroad said, which is important for HRW wheat moving from western Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and southwestern Nebraska.

Source: World Grain



Hybrid wheat in the works

November 5th, 2016
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t_wheat-field-640960_640Improvements in breeding tools are helping to make hybrid wheat a reality.

Wouldn’t it be great if wheat farmers could glean hybrid vigor akin to what cattle producers do when they glean a black baldie calf from crossing a Hereford bull with an Angus cow? These days, maybe they can.

Syngenta plans to launch hybrid wheat in the U.S. by decade’s end. Bayer CropScience has also been working on hybrid wheat with a similar timeline.

Hybrid wheat has long been a gleam in the eyes of farmers and wheat breeders. Physiologically, though, it’s often been difficult for pollen from this self-pollinating crop to travel long distances. Other hurdles have included lack of seed production on the female side, susceptibility to fungal diseases, and added seed costs.

However, Darcy Pawlik, Syngenta’s product lead for cereals, notes some tools that will help make hybrid wheat a reality:

• Long-term improvement of germplasm base
• Native trait stacks
• Doubled haploid breeding
• Marker-assisted recurrent selection

Boost from Barley

Syngenta officials discussed their hybrid wheat plans at last month’s Syngenta Media Summit in Cary, North Carolina. It’s using the same platform to develop hybrid wheat as it did for hybrid barley that is now commercialized in the United Kingdom.

“Hybridization will revolutionize the way wheat is grown,” predicts Patricia Malarkey, who heads research and development for Syngenta.

So far, yields in North Dakota for hybrid wheat have been 10% to 15% higher than conventional varieties, say Syngenta officials. “With hybrid wheat, you can take the best of both parents and get an additive effect,” says Pawlik.



Milling industry ,

Rising UK milling wheat premium threatens revival in imports

September 24th, 2016
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A revival in British milling wheat premiums is, in rendering German supplies more competitive, threatening to revive UK imports, whose high level since the nightmare year of 2012 has surprised investors.

While prices of higher quality wheat have outperformed worldwide – a reflection of a poor quality, if record large, global harvest – those in the UK appear to have fared particularly strongly.

Demand for UK milling wheat “is good with premiums off their lows and good demand to both mills and reports of vessels loading to Algeria”, traders at a major European commodities house said.

The dynamic also reflects the sowings season for winter grains, with the traders noting that “undoubtedly October is always a month where, due to workload, farmer selling slows”.

German vs UK

The price outperformance has closed to £28 a tonne, from £40 a tonne last month, the discount of imported so-called “A” German wheat – a popular purchase by British flour makers, with an elevated protein level typically of some 13% – to eastern UK milling wheat values.

While still a “historically large” price gap, and one likely to spur UK buyers to turn more to domestic supplies, a continuation of the trend would threaten ideas of a switch away from German imports, the AHDB bureau said,”

“If the recent fall in German prices continues then this opportunity [for UK supplies to displace imports] may be diminished,” AHDB analyst Isobel Robinson said.

Import upsurge

The comments follow data which showed that UK wheat imports, at 118,414 tonnes in July, their weakest start to a marketing year since 2011-12 – as the UK began its second wettest year on record, which left the country with a dismal harvest and sent mills scrambling for foreign supplies.

The taste for imports has proved unexpectedly strong, totalling 8.32m tonnes between 2012-13 and 2015-16 – a jump of 87% from the total for the four years to 2011-12.

The resilient imports have been attributed to factors including greater reliability of imported supplies to the gap in specification between what UK farmers have grown to the higher quality demanded by buyers.

In fact, UK farmers for the latest harvest switched sharply to higher grade wheat, a fact reflected in an average protein level which, estimated provisionally at 12.6%, would be the highest in a decade.

AHDB senior analyst Jack Watts said last month that, helped by the shift towards higher-grade varieties, “we might hope that UK wheat imports fall below 1m tonnes” in 2016-17, which would represent a drop of one-third year on year.



Milling industry ,

Producing wheat will be profitable — for some

September 24th, 2016
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Cash wheat prices (near $2.80 at this writing) are well below the cost of production. It is a fact that the market will offer prices that provide a profit for some producers. It is also a fact that the market will periodically offer prices that will weed out inefficient, high-cost producers.

Another fact is that a large difference exists in the cost of production between the most profitable and the least profitable farms. Low prices and negative returns reinforce the necessity for producers to calculate both their cost of production and where they fit in the hierarchy of profitable farms.

Kansas Farm Management Association records from 247 wheat farms were used to calculate the cost for producing non-irrigated wheat. The farms were divided into three groups: top, middle, and bottom third by net return to management per acre.

For the crop years 2011 through 2015, the average variable cost per bushel (including a land charge) for the top third was $5.12 per bushel; for the middle third it was $6.31 per bushel; and for the bottom third it was $9.11 per bushel. Subtracting the land charge resulted in $4.66, $5.78 and $8.49 for top, middle, and bottom thirds, respectively.


The 5-year average yields per acre were 47 bushels for the top, 41 bushels for the middle, and 33 bushels for the bottom thirds.

The difference in the per bushel cost between the average of the top third and the bottom third is $3.83 (without land) and $3.99 (with land). The difference between the top third and the middle third is $1.12 (without land) and $1.19 (with land). Note that these are averages of the three groups. Fifty percent of the farms in the middle group had per bushel costs more than $1.12 ($1.19 with land) higher than the average of the top third’s cost per bushel.

For 50 percent of the farms to receive a positive return above variable costs, the average price of wheat would needed to have been $5.78 (no land charge) or $6.31 (with land charge).

The records also showed that the cost areas that indicated the greatest difference between groups were fertilizer, herbicide/insecticide, and machinery, in that order. Producers may find it worth their effort to calculate and review the individual cost areas and determine where management practices could be used to replace inputs and reduce costs.


When the average cost per bushel is subtracted from the average Kansas price for June and July, the top third’s 5-year average return per bushel was $1.48. For the top third, the net returns were $2.53 (2011), $2.76 (2012), $2.35 (2012), minus 53 cents (2014), and  minus 42 cents (2015).

For the middle third, the five-year average was 29 cents per bushel; $1.16 (2011), $1.42 (2012), $1.25 (2013), minus $1.38 (2014), and minus 99 cents (2015). Over the 5-year period, the bottom third had a negative net return every year and an average of a minus $2.51 per bushel.

The Kansas wheat production costs and yields may be different from Oklahoma and Texas costs. But the bottom line results would be about the same. The fact is that about 40 percent of the wheat farms have a negative return over the 5-year period between 2011 and 2015.

The market will provide a profit for wheat production. That profit may only be for the top 60 percent. Now is the time to figure out which group your farm is in and/or how to get the farm in the top third and how to keep it there.



Milling industry ,

South Korea rejects Argentina feed wheat after GMO strain found

August 6th, 2016
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wheat_1South Korea rejected a shipment of Argentine feed wheat after finding unapproved strains of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the cargo, the agriculture ministry said on Tuesday.

Seoul bans the entry of unapproved GMOs, defined as living modified organisms (LMO) under bio safety regulations.

In 2013, South Korean millers suspended imports of U.S. wheat after the discovery of an unapproved strain of genetically modified wheat in the United States.

“After testing 72,450 tonnes of feed wheat cargoes imported from Argentina on July 12, an unapproved strain of LMO was detected and we asked to discard or send all back,” the ministry said in a statement.

The cargo was shipped by the bulk carrier ANTONIS, said an official at the Korean Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency.

The cargo was loaded at Argentina’s San Lorenzo and Bahia Blanca ports in May and shipped by Netherlands-based commodity trader Nidera, according to data from NABSA shipping agency.

Nidera could not be reached immediately for comment.

Thomson Reuters ship tracking data showed the vessel is heading to Australia’s Gladstone port after discharging at South Korea’s Pyeongtaek and Kunsan ports.

The ministry said it would continue with LMO tests of imported agricultural products.

In Buenos Aires, a grains export company executive said there is no GMO wheat cultivated in Argentina.

“So it must have been something left in the hold of the ship from a previous cargo,” said the executive, who asked not to be identified.

South Korea is not banning imports of feed wheat from Argentina, only the shipment containing the unapproved strain, a ministry official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.

Feed importer Nonghyup Feed Inc said it is looking into the situation after the government’s decision, while the Korea Feed Association could not be reached for comment.

Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, mostly imports feed wheat from Australia, India, Ukraine and Canada. It imported 396,900 tonnes of Argentine feed wheat in June out of total imports of 910,946 tonnes, according to the statement.

Ample Argentine wheat supplies and the low grain quality have pressured prices and boosted feed wheat shipments to Asia. Argentine farmers liquidated their wheat stockpiles after free-market proponent Mauricio Macri won the presidency last November and eliminated grain export taxes.

“When you analyze the destinations that Argentine feed wheat is being shipped to, there has been a radical shift toward Asia,” said Leandro Pierbattisti, chief analyst with Argentina’s grains warehousing chamber.

Source: Reuters


Milling industry ,

The protein content of French milling wheat remains a major issue for the future

August 6th, 2016
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Fabrice Bourjot, Head of Wheat Development with Moulins Soufflet:

There is a direct relationship between yield and protein content in milling wheat. The year of poor weather that we are seeing should thus enable us without too much difficulty to meet our target of a minimum protein content of 11% on wheat bought. This should not make us forget the underlying trends that justified the launch of the Wheat Protein Plan in 2014: an almost linear decline in protein content over ten years and, on the other hand, an ever more demanding market driven by plant bakers, for protein of around 11.5%. Ultimately, the risk for French farming is that it will see its traditional customers, especially in North Africa, turn to other suppliers. So we will need to be extremely watchful on the choice of varieties and nitrogen applications, which should be applied in the best form and at the best time. The new decision support systems that we are developing have, at this level, a vital part to play.



Milling industry ,

Russian Problems Could Boost Wheat Market

October 24th, 2014
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wheat productionThis week’s Grain Farmers of Ontario market commentary has some potentially good news for the wheat market.

Analyst Marty Hibbs says Russia’s autumn-sown grains crops are in even worse condition than in 2009.

The 2010 harvest saw a 33 per cent drop in Russian wheat production.

Hibbs says based on the charts, the short term indicators remain positive for wheat but the main trend is still down.

He says the same is true for corn – short term positive, main trend down.

Hibbs says the charts put the next major overhead resistance is around the 3.70 to 3.80 level based on the December chart.

This week’s GFO market commentary suggests the target resistance area for soybeans at 10-10.50 basis the November contract is within striking distance.

However, Hibbs says Oil World has cut it’s forecast for Brazil’s soybean output by three million tonnes because of a critical lack of rainfall.

Grain Farmers of Ontario Grain Market Commentary:

The U.S. corn harvest advanced to 31% as of Sunday and is behind the five-year average of 53%. Crop development and harvest have been delayed by a cool summer and fall rains. A year ago, corn was 38% harvested at this time. The corn ratings are unchanged from a week ago at 74% good to excellent.
On the charts, like the wheat, the buy signal on October 6 has proven to be the bottom for the time being. We are stuck in our projected resistance levels of $3.50-$3.60. The next major overhead resistance is around the $3.70-$3.80 level based on the December chart. Short term indicators remain positive but the main trend is down.

Oil World cut its own forecast for Brazil’s soybean output by three million (m) tonnes. This is in contrast from other analysts predicting an increase of up to 12m tonnes. The reason cited was a critical lack of rainfall. The analysis group lowered its forecast to 89m tonnes – its estimate for Brazil’s soybean output in 2014-15.
On the charts, the November contract is still in a strong downtrend; although as of this writing we are trading at $9.70 and our target resistance area of $10.00-$10.50 basis the November contract is within striking distance. Main trend is still down.

For those looking for a positive spin on the upcoming year, Russia’s autumn-sown grains crops are heading into winter with worse conditions than five years ago, when losses from cold weather and summer drought sent wheat production tumbling.
In fact, winter grains appeared in even worse condition than 2009, ahead of the 2010 harvest which witnessed a 33% slump in Russian wheat production. That production decline, which prompted Russia to impose a grain export ban, sent world wheat prices soaring.
On the charts, the buy signal from October 6, which caused prices to rally, is still intact. The $5.15-$5.25 price level has proven, as expected, to be quite resistant. If we manage to close above this area, our next major resistance is $5.40-$5.65. The short term indicators remain positive but the main trend is still down.
Source: Blackburn News



Japan, South Korea can stop GMO testing -wheat group official

October 4th, 2014
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USDAJapan and South Korea are continuing to test the U.S. wheat they buy to make sure the grain is not contaminated with an experimental version developed by Monsanto Co, but could soon stop the practice, the head of a U.S. wheat association said on Thursday.

The two countries, which are among the top purchasers of U.S. wheat, have been sampling and testing all the U.S. wheat they have purchased since last year, when news broke that a farmer in Oregon had found Monsanto’s unapproved biotech wheat growing in his field, according to U.S. Wheat Associates, which markets American wheat to international buyers.

All of their test results on over five million tonnes of wheat have been negative, it said.

The testing requirements are a competitive disadvantage for U.S. wheat, said U.S. Wheat President Alan Tracy. But both countries now should be able to stop the testing after assurances last week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that the Oregon event was isolated and no biotech wheat had made its way into commercial supplies.

“We’re hopeful that they’ll be able to suspend the testing. It is not something they really want to keep doing indefinitely,” Tracy told Reuters. “They approach things cautiously. They felt they had no choice until this report (from USDA) was out.”

U.S. Wheat Associates will meet representatives from Japan, Taiwan and South Korea later this month, he said.

According to U.S. export sales data, Japan bought about 3 million tonnes of U.S. wheat in the 2013/2014 marketing year, which ended May 31, making it the fourth-largest buyer of U.S. wheat for that period after Brazil, China and Mexico. So far this marketing year, Japan has bought 1.4 million tonnes.

Japan has the sampling and testing of the wheat it buys handled in the United States before it is shipped, Tracy said.

South Korea bought 1.3 million tonnes during the last marketing year, making it the seventh largest buyer. So far this year, it has purchased 749,000 tonnes.

There is no commercially approved biotech wheat, but Monsanto’s herbicide-tolerant “Roundup Ready” wheat was near commercialization a decade ago before the company shelved the project amid fears that export sales would be hurt.

The fact that experimental wheat was found growing uncontrolled in Oregon last year led to fears the biotech wheat might be in commercial supplies. The unapproved wheat was also found this summer in Montana, growing in a research plot where field trials of the GMO wheat were conducted from 2000 to 2003.

The USDA said on Friday that it was investigating the Montana situation, but like Oregon, there are no indications the unapproved wheat entered commercial supplies.

Tracy said Asian markets remain very cautious about GMO grains generally.

Source: Reuters

“It’s not up to us to tell them what to do,” he added. (Reporting By Carey Gillam in Kansas City, Mo. Editing by Andre Grenon)



Milling industry ,

Five things you don’t know about wheat

September 13th, 2014
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wheat productionSince the farm-to-table movement has become a standard element in the local culinary scene, more and more Coloradans care about where their food comes from. Yet many diners still don’t understand the intricacies of farming, where pesky weeds and summer thunderstorms can ruin both crops and livelihoods.

Grassroots movement CommonGround aims to solve that problem by fostering dialogues between female farmers and the female consumers making decisions about which foods to buy. One of these discussions took place at August 28’s CommonGround Conversation Dinner, which featured volunteers such as Danell Kalcevic, office manager and safety director for Bennett-based Kalcevic Farms Inc. This fourth-generation family farm raises millet, sunflowers, 300 head of cattle, and most importantly, wheat.

Kalcevic’s stories of her wheat crop provided insight that the average grocery shopper might appreciate. Though it may not be the sexiest grain in the bushel, wheat still has plenty of secrets to share.

1. Wheat is not a genetically modified organism.

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, have developed a negative connotation over the last couple of years—they sound a bit like an alien species and probably not something you want to eat. There are many arguments that GMOs are safe, however, but wheat avoids the debacle entirely. Farmers have selectively bred wheat, meaning they’ve chosen which strains to continue growing, but they haven’t snipped or inserted any genes to modify the plant—at least for wheat that is grown commercially.

2. Colorado is one of five states producing most of the nation’s winter wheat.

Along with Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas, the Centennial State produces a third of America’s wheat. The domestic public eats only 36 percent of the nation’s total crop while the rest is devoted to exports, seedlings, or feed for livestock.

3. Wheat lasts for a long time.

An ancient form of wheat called einkorn was found in King Tut’s tomb. Since it was preserved from moisture, the plant was able to generate quality seeds—despite being more than 4,000 years old. When wheat is exposed to water, (remember the heavy rains this summer), it becomes difficult for farmers to harvest their crops on time, and the volatility of the wheat market means farmers could lose up to $1 million as a result.

4. Ladybugs can improve a wheat crop.

This small beetle can increase the yield of a wheat crop by more than 70 percent. Though it may seem counterintuitive to introduce insects to something we want to eat, ladybugs kill mites and other pests similarly to the way spiders target mosquitos. This method is more natural and allows farmers to decrease their use of pesticides.

5. Many farmers rotate wheat with other crops rather than plowing their fields.

When we (or at least, I) picture a farm, what emerges is a pastoral image of a man with tanned, leathery skin using a tractor or plow to tend to the fields. Yet many farmers have abandoned the plowing method since cultivating the soil causes moisture loss and pollution. In contrast, the “no till” strategy—planting a different crop per season on the same land—reduces pests and nourishes the ground. Sunflowers and corn are common crops to rotate with wheat.

Source: The Denver Magazine


Milling industry