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into 2017/18 – double what it carried over last year – and, despite some recent jitters over dry/hot weather in its southwest regions – it currently hopes to turn out its second biggest crop ever. The USDA has this around 69m tonnes (72.5m last year) but some Russian sources are allowing for up to 71m. Even so, Russian export prices have been steadily rising, partly in tandem with the world market trend led by US futures, partly in response to good importer demand for this origin, especially from top buyer Egypt, and partly due to some caution towards the weather issues in Russia itself. In global terms, the world is carrying forward over 256m tonnes – the largest surplus wheat stock ever recorded and, if the coming global harvest meets expectations (USDA says it will be down just 1.8 percent from last year’s record high at about 740m tonnes), then world stocks will grow to an even higher level in the year ahead (261m according to the USDA’s June forecasts). But there are several caveats to this comforting figure. One is the fact that about half the world wheat stock is held in China (128m tonnes). No one outside that country (and probably most within) has much idea how much of this grain, some of it quite old, is actually of useable quality, especially in terms of human food consumption. Another is some lower estimates recently coming out of other major wheat producing regions. In the EU itself, the Commission has recently knocked another two million tonnes off its crop forecast for soft wheat which now stands at just under 139m

tonnes after recent hot dry weather trimmed yield prospects. Australian crop forecasters have also reported lower plantings and a probable yield downturn there suggesting a crop of 24/25m tonnes compared with last year’s massive 35m tonne (another record) harvest. Although extra stocks are left over from that crop, they will nowhere near make up the difference. Also, the Australian crop might end up lower than 24m if some

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AUG 2017 - Milling and Grain magazine  
AUG 2017 - Milling and Grain magazine