Wittal: Funds playing the weather game

Feb. 5 — Grain futures made some nice gains today. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly export inspection numbers were at or above expected levels, which helped all grains rally.

Corn was up 13 cents a bushel, beans were up 24 to 31 cents per bushel, wheat was up 17 to 21 cents a bushel, canola was up $3 to $5 per tonne and barley finished up 60 cents per tonne for the day.

Crude oil futures are up 85 cents to close at US$41.17 per barrel.

The Canadian dollar is up 0.24 cents, closing at US81.44 cents.

Weather forecasts for Argentina for the next six to 10 days came out predicting hot and dry weather, so funds were back in the markets today, buying, wanting to play the weather market game again.

Rumours out of Russia that it is running short on wheat supplies will help U.S. exports going forward, which was seen as a real positive for wheat futures today.

Rumours of further export sales of canola to China and/or Pakistan also helped push futures today.

Statistics Canada estimated current canola stocks at 9.143 million tonnes, which was within industry expectations, so it had no impact on markets. Last year at this time, stocks were 7.395 million tonnes, which shows we have a large supply of canola to get rid of this year, but if exports continue at current pace, we should be able to bring those supplies down to manageable levels going into next year.

StatsCan also came out with its first projections for seeded acres for this coming spring. No real big surprise at this time, as it is so early to try to predict what will happen, but barley acres staying the same is a bit of a surprise.

Table 1: Statistics Canada seeded area projections (millions of acres)

Canola Barley Wheat Oats Flax
2008 16.15 9.357 25.009 4.345 1.56
2009 16.80 9.674 23.895 4.374 1.556

How quickly things can change with a few positive news stories.

Funds are interested again in playing in these markets, and that’s what’s needed if we are to get any significant movement in the futures going forward.

Weather markets don’t last forever, so be prepared and price accordingly.

That’s all for this today. — Brian

Brian Wittal has spent over 27 years in the grain industry, including as an elevator manager and producer services representative for Alberta Wheat Pool, a regional sales manager for AgPro Grain and farm business representative for the Canadian Wheat Board, where he helped design some of the new pricing programs. He also operates his own company providing marketing and risk management advice for Prairie grain producers. Brian’s daily commentaries focus on how domestic and world market conditions affect you directly as a grain producers. He welcomes feedback and information on market conditions in your area, such as current offering prices, basis levels, trucking premiums and special crops contracts.

About the author



Brian Wittal

Brian Wittal has 30 years of grain industry experience and currently offers market planning and marketing advice to farmers through his company Pro Com Marketing Ltd.



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