What We're Watching This Week - May 1, 2017

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France's Soft Wheat Dries Up

FranceAgrimer, the country’s farming agency, flagged rapidly declining soft wheat conditions on Friday. The amount of wheat rated good-to-excellent dropped to 78 percent from 85 percent in the prior week. The monthly Evapotranspiration (ETa) reading in Gro shows the severity of the dry conditions across France. While the 8-day NDVI reading across France’s top wheat producing province, Centre, looks satisfactory in comparison to the 10-year mean, we suspect that will change. We recommend that wheat millers and traders of Matif wheat futures keep a close eye on Gro’s environmental indicators with wheat in a critical development stage.

Evapotranspiration and NDVI Anomalies across France's Wheat Areas


Shorter US Planting Season May Boost In-Season Fertilizer Use:

Corn needs plentiful rainfall, sufficient growing degree days, and nitrogen. Many parts of the US Corn Belt have received plenty of rainfall, which has also slowed corn planting. As we enter May, additional rain delays could impact pre-plant fertilizer applications or even result in soil leaching. This could result in farmers resorting to a higher level of in-season nitrogen applications in various forms, such as urea, urea ammonium nitrate-UAN, or DAP (diammonium phosphate). Given that retail prices of UAN-28 and Urea have slipped in the past month, we recommend watching for whether the trend of rising US urea imports continued in March.

Monthly US Urea Imports and DAP Exports vs. Reference Prices


Fewer Bananas On Board?

The price of bananas at the US Gulf soared in March to the highest level since March 2012. But US consumers have barely noticed, as average retail prices in March were slightly lower than the year ago period. The same can’t be said for consumers in Europe and China, who saw prices jump in the past month. Flooding in Caribbean and South American producing regions and falling production in India and South Africa all have taken their toll on supply. What’s more, dry soil conditions have developed in Guatemala and Honduras, owing to a delay in seasonal rainfalls. We encourage retailers, fruit wholesalers, and export-import companies to closely monitor market conditions with Gro’s toolbox of climate, price, and trade indicators.

Monthly Banana Price at US Gulf vs. US Import Volume
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