1. More labor strikes in South America
If harvest is under way in South America expect labor issues. Pretty much every year when Argentina and Brazil are harvesting their corn and soybeans, there has been a work stoppage in the transportation system. The latest was this week when boat captains and port workers went on strike at Argentina's important Rosario grains hub.
Unions representing stevedores and other workers needed to dock and load recently-harvested soy and corn went on strike, union and management spokesmen said in a Reuters report.
The work stoppages threaten to slow crop supplies from Argentina and put upward pressure on world food prices. The country is the world's top exporter of soymeal, a livestock feed, and is the No. 3 supplier of raw soybeans.
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Twenty-five ports constitute the Gran Rosario hub, Argentina's main point of embarkation for grains, oilseeds and derivatives. If a wage deal is not reached by Monday evening, the spokesman said union members will start an open-ended strike at midnight.
Boat captains in Argentina also went on strike this week, but the Coast Guard will intervene to take over those duties, which includes ferrying river pilots out to assist incoming vessels
It was not clear how long the stoppages will last. Previous events have lasted a few days. Brazil truck drivers went on strike in March and again this month, but neither event had a lasting effect on crop shipments.
Romania crops hurt by not enough rain followed by too much >>
2. Romania crops hurt by not enough rain followed by too much
Wheat production in Romania is expected to be down 12% this year as dry conditions last fall when the crop was planted led to poor plant emergence and lack of uniformity, USDA's attache for that country said this week.
This spring too much rain led to flooding in southern and eastern areas and prevented farmers from applying plant treatments. As a result, there is an increased risk for plant disease.
Romania exports wheat to a few European countries, as well as the Middle East and Asia.
Corn acreage this spring is forecast to be 6.7 million acres, up slightly from 2014 as farmers plant corn to acres that could not be planted to wheat. A wet early spring is delayed the start of corn planting, but dry, warm weather later in April allowed planting to progress. Romania leads Europe in corn acreage and is the No. 2 in production.
Romanian corn exports are mainly to European countries, but some has gone to South Korea and the Middle East.
China cancels new-crop soybeans; buyers cancel old-crop wheat >>
3. China cancels new-crop soybeans; buyers cancel old-crop wheat
Weekly export sales had a few surprises that included top-buyer China cancelling some new-crop soybean business while a number of buyers cancelled old-crop wheat purchases and bought new-crop instead.
It was not clear why China bailed on the soybeans. For wheat, the current U.S. crop year concludes May 31, so it might have made logistical sense to make the switch. Regardless the 16.5 million bushels in net wheat cancellations were largest on record, which go back to the 1980s.
USDA reported export sales of 32.8 million bushels for old-crop corn. That was down 4% from the prior week, with Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico the leading buyers. New-crop business of nearly 4.5 million bushels matched forecasts, with Japan, unknown destinations and Nicaragua the buyers.
Old-crop soybean export sales of nearly 16 million bushels were up considerably from the prior week and beat forecasts with China, unknown destinations and Pakistan the leading buyers. New-crop business was a net reduction of 4.35 million bushels as the aforementioned cancellations by China more than offset sales to Malaysia and Japan.
While buyers cancelled 16.5 million bushels in old-crop wheat, they added 31.3 million bushels in new-crop business, which was much larger than trade forecasts. That business was led by unknown destinations, the Dominican Republic and South Korea.