ISSUE 91, FEBRUARY 24, 2023


Ben Hoggarth, Merchant

The broken record of corn and soybeans continues to play out as the PNW soybean program has wrapped up and while the corn market remains hopeful, export business has yet to materialize. The US soybean market has seemingly begun to look towards next year’s crop while corn values continue to weaken with lack of demand in the nearby. Both the corn & soybean market maintain their focus on South America. Argentina experienced a brief frost before returning to a dry pattern for most of February, they continue to fight serious drought concerns. Brazil continues to experience wet conditions, further slowing harvest as well as the safrinha corn crop planting. Wet weather continues to slow down Brazil export logistics creating potential concerns for timing into the next crop year. China has begun testing GMO corn and soybean production which could potentially lead to significant changes in future demand. Russia in the headlines again stating that the war with Ukraine will not end until they win. Market movement is largely being dictated by geopolitical factors as we wait for the next headline.  

The BNSF has seen trains and orders continued to be cancelled, allowing them to chip away at their backlog of orders. The most recent report puts them at 10,000 orders behind, down from the peak of around 15,000. Progress on catching up to orders is being made, however, they are still weeks behind on placement. Severe winter weather and cold temperatures throughout the northern tier this week will likely see poor railroad performance and quiet markets.  

Ryan Statz, Merchant


Barley markets in the old and new crop have been quiet of late. In the old, maltsters are trying to do everything they can to keep pipelines in a comfortable position while also knowing at the same point in time, that barley stocks are in the market and are slowly trickling out. Maltsters are also well aware of new crop markets and conditions and know that a quality crop on top of a significant acreage uptick could lead to further price weakness as we get closer to next year’s campaign. 


In the new crop, strong prices throughout the market are attracting acres. In short, buyers are doing everything they can to avoid what happened to their supply chains the last few years. Early AOG coverage was not adequately put on by buyers and when poor growing conditions led to smaller crops, they were forced to operate in very tight supply environments. To procure supply, prices firmed throughout the last few marketing years as they pushed aggressively for coverage. Now, with the past few years and rising prices freshly in buyer’s minds, maltsters came out of the gates early with strong prices to try and buy in AOG acres for ‘23/24 crop. Since the early strength, markets have cooled off as coverage is assessed. We are hearing a lot of ‘23/24 was bought from growers early on which will give maltsters a chance to taper interest back some. This is a concern that needs to be watched. Note that Montana really is the last piece to getting overall barley supply chains back to comfortable levels – Idaho and ND are coming off of very good crops in ‘22/23. If Montana pushes overall supply back to adequate levels - the $7.00-8.00/bu price environment may be in the rearview mirrors.   

Please stay in touch with your local CGI buyer about options and what can be done for you. 


Overall, markets are quiet and steady which likely signals a calming balance of bushel flow in and out of the commercial system without one side being run over. Demand from the milling community – both domestic and international has been lackluster and slow, but so to has been grower engagement at these levels.  

On the demand side, we have seen Algeria and Tunisia pick away at tonnage, but the closer we get to other origin’s harvest, the more of a chance the international market has to cover from cheaper non-US/Canadian origins. Without the international piece, markets are solely dependent on domestic milling demand which in large part remains open and unfilled for Q2 (April, May, June). However, the ‘slow’ or ‘loss’ of international demand thought process combined with domestic miller’s knowing that marketable bushels remain on-farm, has the US market in an uneasy feeling and prices have softened back for the time being. A few big questions that all should be thinking about – 1) Do we see another round of international business to take some ‘length’ out of the market? 2) What kind of pace does the US miller enter the market with – slow and steady (signals weakish short-term prices) or a big splash to capitalize on weak prices (signals stronger short-term prices)? 3) What price action do we get with the other wheat classes in the short term?


Sam Ohden, Merchant

Futures remain rangebound between 9.30 and 9.00, and will need a new story to break out of this channel. Cash markets have been very soft over the last couple of weeks following good farmer selling in late January/early February coupled with a lack of export demand and relatively normal domestic use. We will need to see some new demand surface to see basis levels appreciate.  

The demand picture is largely unchanged in that the US is still a high-priced island in the global wheat trade, but one component that should lend some support to spring wheat cash markets is its price competitiveness relative to winter wheat. 11 – 11.5 pro HRW is roughly parity price (depending on whether we’re looking at PNW, US Gulf, or domestic milling gateway markets) to 14 pro spring wheat. If current cash prices are sustained, we’ll see millers (both domestic & international) look at converting some of their winter wheat grind to more spring wheat.  

Market drivers worth watching are currently the South American weather situation, which seems to be driving the entire ag complex, as well as the discussion around new crop acreage. At current price levels, many traders are expecting to see smaller spring wheat acreage in eastern Montana and throughout North Dakota given high priced alternatives (namely, soybeans). With increased veg oil usage due to the Renewable Fuel Standard, the market will want to find more canola & soybean acres – but the question is, how many wheat acres can the market afford to lose?  


Justin Beach, Merchant

Can’t buy and can’t sell it seems to sum up the PNW HRW market. Lack of demand, inverses, high historical cash prices, and high cost of money have put a wet blanket on HRW premiums for the time being. Coupled with the aforementioned is the fact that HRW has recaptured the title of most expensive PNW wheat which will further inhibit demand along with being considerably more expensive than other global replacements in Australia, France, Ukraine, Russia, etc. Domestically acres will be up but the market will watch Kansas and Texas particularly closely. Kansas will be under a monocle as a function of overall production and TX will be as well due to the massive increase in acres (26%) and its propensity to have the highest abandonment rate. All eyes will continue to be on domestic dryness as it’s impossible to find an HRW growing region with garden-like conditions. Moving forward the market will continue to battle for acreage via price and that should help keep flat prices relatively buoyant. The HRW market is just too thin to be trying to price aggressively into any incremental demand or feed rations. We continue to monitor cash price spreads between HRW and corn and will need firm corn prices to remain at these levels. Geopolitics are a mess and that’s nothing new. Ukraine is seeking a 1-year renewal of the Russian Grain Deal and the market awaits a meeting between Putin and Xi Jinping. 


  • Domestic Dryness 
  • Tight carryout 


  • High flat prices in relation to offshore options 
  • Lack of demand 
  • Increased acres 


Sean Ferguson, Merchant

Early frosts have started to occur in Argentina – this has helped drive oilseed complex board prices upward over fear of a worse Argentinian situation than has already been forecasted; slow Brazilian bean harvest does not help the situation in South America. The market will be curious to see where the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange puts the Argentinian bean crop in the coming days. All else being equal, continued issues/worries over the South American crop should keep futures in the oilseed complex supported in the nearby. Canadian canola YTD deliveries over exports/crush are pegged at roughly 445k MT; overall North American carryout is looking to be skinny coming into this new crop year. Chinese demand will continue to be a big factor as we go through new crop – Chinese demand rationing and/or purchase of canola from origins other than North America could lead to board price volatility. Matif rapeseed futures are higher over dry European growing regions.  


In the forex market, the CAD had been weaker following weak Canadian CPI as well as lower crude prices; crude is lower following supposed interest rate hikes from central banks across the world. USD has been stronger as the FED reaffirms their hawkish stance as inflation numbers continue to come out above target; although, there will be continued pressure to keep basis point hikes as low to minimize any possible economic disruption or disruption to the labor market


  • Funds short canola futures 
  • Continued South American crop issues/logistics  
  • Weak CAD 
  • Tight North American balance sheet through old crop 


  • Funds long soy meal/oil futures  
  • Chinese demand rationing  


Phil Symons

In the last Columbia Grain Newsletter, we mentioned that we will have some exciting new ways to view our cash bids and really all aspects of your farming operation with Columbia Grain. We are excited to announce that we have officially launched the Columbia Grain Bushel App along with updating our web site to a degree with a link to our cash prices at various locations. Be sure to visit the App Store to download the Columbia Grain Bushel App on your Smart phone of choice. The accompanying picture has a QR code that you can scan with your phone to open the Columbia Grain Bushel App. If you have any questions on any of these new aspects, please feel free to contact your local Columbia Grain Merchandiser.  


Steve Yorke, Merchant 


Quiet markets overall as we continue to see light demand and just enough grower selling to keep white wheat bids under the $8.50 mark. Until we see another round of Chinese business or some CCC donation wheat to Yemen I don’t see bids changing in the next 30-60 days. I see more downside than anything else, limited but still softer near term. Also, we still have a sizable chunk of white wheat that is in the grower’s hands and if that starts to flow, then bigger downside can be expected. Not a pretty picture at the moment for wheat in general. Weather and the Black Sea situation will obviously be the big movers going forward. Our weather is and has been pretty much ideal for growing wheat. New crop bids are still stuck at the 7.80-8.00 range with little trading at those levels. We had a small flurry of HTA’s and Accumulators in the past two weeks when Chicago rallied but has turned quiet with the recent downturn in futures. As always place orders with our grain buyers to help capture rallies in the markets.   

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