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Heat pushes grain prices up in Europe
LONDON ,Searing heat and the threat of thunderstorms made for tricky trading on some European grain markets on Wednesday, with fears of crop damage pushing prices up while sellers held back, betting on even higher levels.
Western Europe has had a hard journey towards its 2003 grains harvest, beset by bad weather during planting along with frost and drought throughout the growth cycle.
Top west European producer France saw wheat and maize prices pump significantly higher on Wednesday.
A continued heat wave stoked fears of tumbling yields while thunderstorms with heavy winds and hail were expected in the east and north, just as combines tried to bring in the wheat harvest.
The price rise rippled through to Britain, where wheat futures markets scored fresh life of contract highs.
"Some people are talking about (French) yields being 20 percent down this year and there are niggling fears that UK yields could be hit, too, although we await real evidence of that," a UK-based trader said.
While UK wheat and barley crops have been doing relatively well, oilseed crops are feels the strain of weather, with oilseed rape coming off the fields in an exceptionally dry state, agronomists said.
"Some samples of the crop have a moisture content of six percent and below, which is worrying when most oilseed crushers have great difficulty in processing anything below this level," said John Garstang of UK crop consultants ADAS.
Meanwhile, Italian merchants seeking new crop French wheat were meeting strong resistance from sellers punting on higher prices.
Italian new crop wheat yields are down sharply from last year because of the combined impact of heavy rains in the autumn planting period, a cold spring and record high temperatures in June, analysts and traders say. Harvesting in Italy is finished.
"The French know that the quality of their wheat is better than last year. They know that Italian wheat yields are down this year, and that the east Europeans will produce less." a senior north Italian trader told Reuters at the weekly Milan cereals bourse.
Another Italian trader said: "The quality of French new crop wheat is good and sellers are putting up strong resistance and are waiting for higher prices."
But Germany, right behind France in terms of output, could upset French plans to hold onto grain for a big pay-day.
"If the French sellers wait too long before unloading supplies, the German crop will have come on-stream and, if Italian millers agree contracts with the Germans, the French will lose sales," one Italian trader said.
MGR Archive 17.7.2003
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Region Type Price  
Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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