UK farmers have started to harvest 2017 rapeseed just as the USDA has helped move prices upwards with a report that traders have interpreted as bullish. Weather in some of the world’s key producing regions has created concern over the progress of developing crops.

“The phone calls have been coming in today with the first crops being cut down in Hampshire and Warwickshire,” David Whyte, trader at United Oilseeds, told Agritrade News. “The yield reports at the moment seem to be slightly better than last year.  One farmer was quoting 3.7 tonnes a hectare compared with 3.0t/ha in 2016.  So that is better news.

“As far as the markets are concerned we’ve seen the MATIF rise by €9/tonne in the last two or three days since the USDA report came out,” he continued. “That is due to weather problems in Canada and the US, plus heat in Australia.

“These reports are helping to firm market sentiment and prices,” Mr Whyte explained. “With growers in North America having just finished planting their soyabeans and canola, the young emerging plants need some moisture, but are not getting it at the moment.

“This means there is a bit of a weather premium being added to the market, which is helping harvest prices over here.” Speaking early on Wednesday afternoon, he hoped the post-July 4th holiday market in the US would give the oilseeds crop further bullish impetus in the second half of the week, with further price rises for British farmers. 

“The US soybean planted area for 2017 is estimated at a record high of 89.5 million acres, up 7% from last year,” the USDA’s Acreage report, published last Friday, stated. This is equivalent to some 39.2 million hectares. “Compared with last year, planted acreage intentions are up or unchanged in 24 of the 31 estimating States.”

But AHDB Cereals and Oilseed observed that the record figure was less than the market had expected. “The USDA’s much-awaited acreage report contained a few surprises for markets,” it said in its Market Report. “Prior to the data release there was some market expectation of soyabeans overtaking maize as the top planted crop for the first time in 34 years. However, this did not materialise in the statistics.”

The figure was also some 100,000 hectares lower than that predicted by analysts in a Reuters poll ahead of the USDA report’s publication. “This means that maize stays on top of US plantings,” AHDB commented. “The only occurrence of the US soyabean area outstripping that for maize was in 1983, according to records that go back to 1926.”