Grain prices improve as US counts cost of spring floods

The price of grain is on the up. Pic: REUTERS/Mike Sturk
The price of grain is on the up. Pic: REUTERS/Mike Sturk
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Grain prices have improved by €5/t over the last week as the outlook for global corn supplies took a hit on the back of disastrous sowing conditions for the US maize crop.

Glanbia increased its green wheat price for this year's harvest to €155/t, while lifting its quote for green barley to €145/t. The prices are up from €151/t and €140/t respectively.

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The improvement in market sentiment has been attributed to the slow progress in maize sowings in the US. Just half of the maize crop has been planted to date due to flooding and harsh weather conditions across the US cornbelt.

The first week in June is traditionally the cut-off for planting maize. A major changeover to soya is now likely, industry sources indicated.

In contrast to the poor outlook for the US maize harvest, the forecast for grain crops in Western Europe and the Black Sea region is very positive.

Recent rains across northern Europe have eased drought concerns and EU wheat and barley production is expected to rebound from last year's poor yields.

Wheat production is forecast to exceed 144 million tonnes, with the barley crop expected to top 60 million tonnes. These yields are 13pc and 8pc up on the drought-affected harvest of 2018.

Unfortunately, market analysts believe the recent price rises might be temporary as there are ample maize supplies globally following bumper harvests in South America.

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In other markets news, soyabean prices fell to 12-year lows last week but have since recovered some of the losses. However, there are huge stocks of the crop in the US and South America, and demand is likely to remain depressed following the 22pc cull of China's sow herd due to African swine fever.

Meanwhile, the IFA has slammed the continued importation of maize from non-EU sources at a time when there is an overhang of 100,000 tonnes of old-crop native barley.

Figures from Eurostat indicate that 266,000 tonnes of maize from non-EU sources were imported into Ireland in February and March. Canada and the Ukraine were the main sources.

Standards

IFA grain committee chairman Mark Browne said it was unacceptable that this level of imports was continuing at a time when Irish wheat and barley was readily available.

"This maize is produced using inferior environmental standards than Irish grain, yet Irish cereal farmers are forced to compete with these non-EU imports," Mr Browne said.

"This unjust scenario cannot continue as it is putting Irish tillage farmers out of business. The IFA is seeking immediate meetings with the Department of Agriculture and Bord Bia on the issue."

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