Hard red winter wheat prices returned to the back foot versus other varieties after data showed cancellations by importers of US supplies, unusually, exceeding fresh business, as Brazil's tariff reinstatement hit home.
The US Department of Agriculture reported net export sales cancellations of 25,000 tonnes of hard red winter wheat last week ï¿½ a dynamic usually only seen towards the end of the crop year as buyers switch delivery to the following season.
"This is usually the kind of thing we see only in the last few weeks of the season," Brian Henry, at US broker Benson Quinn Commodities, told Agrimoney.com.
Indeed, it is the first negative export sales figure for hard red winter wheat not involving May, the last month of the crop year, since 2009, and the first to occur in August since at least the 1980s.
The weak performance reflected the cancellation by Brazil, a structural importer of hard red winter wheat, of a net 59,000 tonnes in orders, after the country reinstated from last week a 10% tax on imports from outside the Mercosur trade block.
Brazil has been importing unusually large quantities of US wheat over the last 18 months, after a poor domestic production, and weak output in Argentina, Brazil's default origin for imports, forced it to look elsewhere.
And it has left the US - with 3.28m tonnes in hard red winter wheat shipments or unfulfilled orders - looking at its worst start to a season for export demand for the class in five years.
The performance contrasts with 2.21m tonnes for soft red winter wheat, the type traded in Chicago, for which trade has begun 2014-15 with unusual briskness for the variety.
"Demand for soft red winter wheat has been better than many people believed and Gulf basis has remained pretty firm," Mr Henry said, referring to the prices in US Gulf of Mexico ports.
"But basis on hard red winter wheat has not performed so well. There is just not the demand for it at the moment."
The premium of hard red winter wheat futures, traded in Kansas City, to Chicago-listed soft red winter wheat touched 74.75 cents a bushel, September basis, on Thursday reversing after three days of recovery slumping from a late-June high of $1.38 ï¿½ a bushel.
Against Minneapolis spring wheat the Kansas City premium, which reached 32 cents a bushel in June, narrowed to 5 cents a bushel.