LONDON, ENGLAND – Corn prices have been firm in recent weeks due in large part to demand from China, but the prospect of larger supplies next year has limited the increase. More generally, coarse grains have been affected by the continued uncertainty surrounding supplies of grains and oilseeds via the Black Sea.

In its April 20 Grain Market Report, the International Grains Council (IGC) said its index for corn prices had eased by 1% month-on-month, “with declines in South American export values outweighing advances in the US.”  In the United States, corn futures had posted gains of up to 6%.

“Increases in nearby contracts were most pronounced, lifted by confirmation of a series of large sales to China,” the IGC said. “Advances in deferred months were contained by expectations for larger 2023-24 supplies.”

Firmer CME futures were the main reason for a rise in export prices by $14, to $298 fob (Gulf).

“Over the past five weeks, the discount to comparable offers from Argentina has been eroded, with US values now quoted at a premium of $14 per tonne,” the IGC said. “Quotations in Argentina eased by $16, to $284 fob (Up River), tied to seasonal harvest pressure and increased farmer selling. With supplies for nearby shipments largely covered, exporters remained mostly inactive.

“Prices in Brazil declined by $4 month-on-month to $284 fob (Paranagua) on bumper crop prospects, but with offers thinly quoted.”

For barley, the IGC reported that “owing to declines in export prices in the Black Sea, the EU and Argentina, its index contracted by 4% month-on-month.”

There was a fall in export quotations of $20, to $267 fob in France (Rouen).

“As well as spillover from wheat, prices were pressured by confirmation of a Chinese review on import duties on Australian barley,” the IGC explained, adding that “underpinned by solid export demand, values in Western Australia (Kwinana) rose fractionally, up by $1, to $269 fob.”

Prices in Argentina were down by $40, to $280 fob (Up River), “partly pressured by concerns about the potential for increased export competition into China, albeit with values highly nominal,” the IGC said.

Sorghum quotations fob US Gulf were up $10 at $347, “as strength in maize futures more than compensated for weaker basis, tied to thin demand,” the IGC said, but values in Argentina and Australia were down. “US oats futures edged lower in mostly technical trading,” it said, while for rye it noted that “prices in the EU (Germany) and Russia continued to work lower, pressured mainly by weakness in other grain markets, including wheat.”

The US Grains Council, in its April 20 Market Perspectives, said “concerns about global grain supplies increased (in mid-April) after Black Sea shipments of Ukrainian grain were suspended amid conflict between Ukrainian officials and Russian inspectors.”

“That helped corn and other grain markets rally, but (the eventual) resolution of the issues and resumption of shipments has pushed futures lower,” the USGC said. “Fundamental inputs remain light for now with the biggest factors still being old crop exports and the weather forecast and planting efforts for the new crop.

“A big focus for the market right now is the US spring weather outlook and how it could impact the corn planting effort. Currently, 8% of US corn has been seeded so far, with nearly all the progress in the southern US.”

The IGC explained that “this pace is slightly above the five-year average for mid-April of 5% and is a new five-year high.”