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3 Big Things Today, March 23, 2022

Wheat Futures Higher Overnight; Ukraine Spring-Grain Planting to Drop.

1. Wheat Futures Higher in Overnight Trading

Wheat futures jumped in overnight trading as the war in Ukraine rages on.

Russian forces continued their assault on the port city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian troops refuse to surrender, according to media reports.

More than 100,000 civilians are trapped in the city, according to the United Nations.

The U.S. and its allies are considering whether Russia should stay in the Group of 20 economic consortium, and the United Nations is expected this week to pass a motion against the ongoing humanitarian crisis that Russia’s attacks on Ukraine have created.

Ukraine is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of wheat, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Spring-grain planting likely will fall by more than half this year, Ukraine Ag Minister Roman Leshchenko told Reuters.

Wheat exports from Russia, the world’s biggest shipper of the grain, likely will decline this year as few countries are doing business with the country as it continues its assault on Ukraine.

It remains to be seen if countries such as Australia and the United States – the second- and third-largest exporters of wheat globally – will be able to meet demand from countries that would normally purchase Russian or Ukrainian grains.

Wheat for May delivery jumped 17½¢ to $11.35¾ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade while Kansas City futures added 16½¢ to $11.33 a bushel.

Soybean futures for delivery rose 14¼¢ to $17.10¾ a bushel. Soymeal was up $4.20 to $481 a short ton, and soybean oil futures gained 0.81¢ to 75.35¢ a pound.

Corn futures for May delivery added 3¾¢ to $7.56¾ a bushel. 

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2. Ukraine Spring-Grain Planting Cut By More Than Half

Farmers in Ukraine likely will plant less than half the spring grains they did last year as Russia continues its attacks.

Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry said it now expects producers to plant about 7 million hectares (17.3 million acres) with grains this year, down from 15 million last year, Commerzbank said in a note to clients. Reuters first reported the projection.

“The reduced acreage is likely to affect corn in particular which, unlike winter wheat, is not sown until the spring,” Commerzbank economist Carsten Fritsch said.

Corn area is forecast to fall 39% to 3.3 million hectares, Reuters reported, citing Ag Minister Roman Leshchenko.

Growers planted about 6.5 million hectares with winter wheat last fall, but likely will only harvest about 4 million hectares, the minister said.

Ukraine collected about 84 million metric tons of grains last year, of which 65 million were slated for export. About 25.3 million metric tons of wheat were set for overseas shipping along with 40 million tons of corn, Commerzbank’s Fritsch said. 

“The actual figures are likely to fall noticeably short of these export targets on account of the war,” he said.

Agricultural consultant APK-Inform said it now expects wheat shipments to top out at about 18.3 million metric tons, with only about 200,000 tons forecast to be exported from March through June, Fritsch said.

“The war is therefore likely to still have a noticeable impact on the supply of grains in the coming crop year, too,” he said.

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3. Winter Storms Hitting Northern Minnesota, Wisconsin

Winter storms are slamming parts of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin as snow and ice are expected throughout the morning, according to the National Weather Service.

In northern Minnesota, up to 4 inches of snow are expected when the storm system moves out of the area early this afternoon, the NWS said in a report early this morning.

Mixed precipitation is forecast in northern Wisconsin with snow accumulations of up to 2 inches and a glaze of ice about 0.2 inch thick, the agency said.

“Ice accumulations could produce some damage to trees and power lines,” the NWS said. “Plan on slippery road conditions.”

Farther south and west, strong winds and low humidity will lead to increased fire risks for the next several days in parts of Nebraska.

Winds in western and central Nebraska will gust up to 45 mph and relative humidity will drop as low as 20% this afternoon, the agency said.

“A prolonged period of elevated to possibly critical fire weather conditions can be expected over the next several days,” the NWS said.

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