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COLUMN: What’s with the market volatility?

CRESTWOOD, Ky. — Several consecutive months of general commodity weakness and large stocks of major grains and oilseeds might have lulled some market participants.

But recent market strength and the following fall should remind growers, end users and everyone involved in the markets that prices can change in a hurry.

Weather issues in South America previously provided a spark that lent support to the soybean complex and corn market, with some spillover into wheat.

Technical traders then rallied the market as many exited short positions. The markets soon realized the rally was overdone, and prices retracted. Recent volatility shows how much the market can move on a little weather news, and with Northern Hemisphere growing season ahead, one must be prepared for more excitement than has been experienced throughout winter well- supplied market situations.

Canola

Canadian farmers intend to plant 19.3 million acres to canola in 2016, a 3.7 percent reduction from 2015’s 18.6 million acres.

Producers in Saskatchewan will reduce area by 2.6 percent to 10.4 million acres and Alberta’s growers will sow 5.6 million acres (a 7.8 percent drop from 2015). Manitoba farmers will keep area unchanged from a year ago at 3.1 million acres.

Wheat

The Statistics Canada report on farmers planting intentions revealed a modest drop in wheat planted area for 2016. Growers plan to seed 23.8 million acres to wheat, a 1.1 percent decrease from a year ago. Spring wheat area will total 16 million acres (down 1 million acres from 2015), while winter wheat area is up 31.6 percent to 1.7 million acres.

Canadian Prairie provinces are showing lower wheat planted area for all categories (including durum), while more eastern areas will see increases.

In the U.S., wheat markets were firmer on technical trading and spillover support from soybeans and corn, before heading lower.

The market is becoming concerned with excess moisture in some wheat growing areas, but extended forecasts show a return to more normal and drier conditions. The markets are all about the weather.

Globally, many exporting countries are showing strong crops. The European Union has shown increasing output forecasts on favorable spring conditions.

MARS (the European Union’s crop monitoring service) raised its soft wheat yield for the 2016 crop to 6.7 tons per acre from 14.7 million in the previous month and only slightly below last year’s record crop. Even the Black Sea region’s crop outlook is improving on better spring weather after a poor fall and winter.

Peas and lentils

As expected, given the firm global price of lentils and relatively weak prices for other major commodities, Canadian farmers are drastically increasing planted area in 2016. The Statistics Canada report showed 4.9 million acres to be planted to lentils this year.

This is a 30 percent increase from 2015’s 3.9-million-acre crop.

Barley and oats

In the planting intentions report released by Statistics Canada, barley seeded area is at 6.8 million acres in 2016. This is a 3.8 percent increase from the previous year’s 6.5 million acres. The majority (95 percent) of this area will be planted in the Prairies.

Oat area for 2016 is expected to total 3 million acres, which is a 10.9 percent decrease from the previous year. The only province showing an increase in oat planted area is Alberta, where seeded area is to rise 9 percent to 730,000 acres.

Durum

Durum planted area in Canada is expected to increase 5.2 percent from a year ago to 6.1 million acres.

Mustard

Planted area in Canada (as reported by farmers in March) is expected to rise in 2016 for mustard. 427,000 acres are to be planted this year, a 24.5 percent increase from 434,000 acres in 2015.