Wittal: U.S. dollar slide to help U.S. grains

Our online grain markets columnist Brian Wittal welcomes feedback and information on market conditions in your area, such as current offering prices, basis levels, trucking premiums and special crops contracts. Contact Brian today.

March 18 — Overall it was a mixed to down day for grain markets. Financial markets were up steady, with the Dow Jones closing up 190 points.

The U.S. dollar fell hard, down 2.5 cents today; the Canadian dollar is up 1.3 cents, trading at US80.03 cents.

Crude oil finished down $1.02 per barrel, closing at US$48.14. Corn is down by one to three cents a bushel, beans are down seven cents to up two cents a bushel and wheat is down 20-23 cents per bushel.

Canola is up $2 to down $2 per tonne, and barley finished down by between 80 cents and $2.30 per tonne today.

The surprise today was the hard drop in the U.S. dollar, which should bode well for U.S. grains, as this will help prices be more attractive to buyers in the short term.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly export numbers are due out tomorrow and are expected to be bullish for grains.

If the falling U.S. dollar can help renew export activity we may see a little bit of a turnaround in the grain markets, but it will only last as long as the dollar stays down to keep prices competitive.

Spring road bans are reported to be in place in some parts of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan as of this week and will come into effect in other parts of those two provinces over the next couple of weeks.

It’s expected that bans will be in place in the southern parts of Manitoba March 18, with the northern regions the week after.

Transportation officials expect road bans will stay in place until the end of May or June.

News reports on Tuesday say PotashCorp plans to further curtail potash production after recent industry data showed that North American potash inventories have risen. The company said it will cut its 2009 potash production by a further 1.5 million tonnes, bringing its total expected curtailments of operational capacity this year to at least 3.5 million tonnes.

I guess this means potash prices are going to stay firm !

That’s all for 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 grain producers.

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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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